It seems employee engagement has entered a sort of “Wild Wild West” in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent shift to remote work. Many offices continue to sit vacant. Employees connect digitally over email, chat, and video. Some teams will never actually meet in person.
What’s an HR professional to do when it comes to fostering employee engagement that retains the best talent?
Simply asking employees what they need to be successful and driving a culture of connection is key. The Society for HR Management (SHRM) says regular check-ins (whether individual, team, or company-wide) demonstrate leadership’s attention to employee well-being.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through employee engagement surveys.
What is an Employee Engagement Survey?
This type of survey is an employee engagement tool that uses carefully crafted questions to gather employee sentiment around their job satisfaction and likelihood to stay at the company. Employee engagement surveys can be conducted as little as once per year or as much as monthly or even weekly through “pulse” surveys that are shorter and easier to complete. These shorter check-ins typically take 5-10 minutes to complete, while longer annual surveys may take up to 30 minutes.
Employee engagement surveys also help leadership gauge the effectiveness of internal initiatives and programs, identify where bottlenecks exist, and drive the future of the company. The data collected allows for more informed workplace improvements that correct shortcomings and boost engagement. This results in better employee retention, increased productivity, and improved morale.
Why Are Employee Engagement Surveys Important?
Employee engagement surveys aren’t just for the benefit of leadership or even HR. According to the Harvard Business Review, employee surveys:
- Are great predictors of employee behavior
- Give employees a voice
- Drive change and action
Simply asking goes a long way. A Salesforce report on the impact of equality and values-driven leadership found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
As humans, we crave purpose. Surveying employees about their experiences not only makes them feel included and valued, but provides tangible data leadership can use to drive change. When employees are actively engaged, they produce their best work, resulting in the strongest brands, bottom lines, and long-term company value.
How to Run an Employee Engagement Survey
Unfortunately, running an employee engagement survey is not as simple as taking a quick poll of your peers. It takes careful strategy and planning. Yet, each company is different and requires varying methodology based on size, industry, and employee accessibility, among other factors. Consider:
- Why are you conducting a survey, and what do you hope to obtain?
- How often will you conduct surveys (quarterly, bi-annually, annually)?
- Will you communicate the results with employees?
- How will you use the results to incite action and change within the company?
Once you’ve determined the survey’s purpose and your approach, crafting the right questions can make or break your success. Asking too many may result in survey fatigue and inaccurate answers. Not asking enough may result in employee discontent at not addressing the right issues.
SHRM recommends keeping survey questions short and simple, using terminology that is familiar to employees. The survey should take no longer than 20-30 minutes to complete.
Related: Learn how to create effective surveys for any situation with our ultimate survey guide.
The Top 10 Questions for Employee Engagement Surveys
It’s tempting to write sentiment-based survey questions like “Are you happy in your role?” or “Do you feel valued at the company?” But these questions won’t get at the heart of the matter and may only capture an employee’s perception of an underlying problem at one point in time.
Instead, aim to gauge important pillars like trust in the organization, commitment to coworkers, and ability to complete work successfully. The resulting data will leave you with actionable takeaways instead of a dead end.
Experts actually now advocate for surveys that include statements employees can respond to on a scale of 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”) rather than traditional questions. This is known as the Likert scale, a psychometric scale that measures attitudes.
Example of a Likert Scale
With that in mind, we recommend including the following “questions” on your next employee engagement survey:
1. “I have the necessary resources to do my work successfully.”
If employees don’t have the basic tools they need to work (e.g. computer, internet access, job-specific tools), achieving full employee engagement is a long shot. Negative answers will indicate your company has not done enough to equip employees with tools, access, or even emotional support.
2. “I know where to turn when I need help.”
This question not only speaks to your company’s enablement capabilities, but employees’ self-sufficiency. If employees answer negatively, it may indicate the need for better company communication, increased hands-on manager guidance, or improvements to your internal wiki/portal of resources.
3. “My team inspires me to do my best work.”
This statement not only gauges ability among employees, but reliance on and cooperation with co-workers. Affirmative answers demonstrate positive company culture, team camaraderie, and workplace environments where the best output is achievable.
4. “I am proud to work here.”
Though this question seems broad, it accomplishes a few things. It measures employees’ willingness to share where they work with others and the belief they have in your brand. It also indicates their willingness to stay and contribute to the company’s vision.
5. “My manager respects me personally and professionally.”
Asking about front-line leadership provides a more granular view into employees’ day-to-day lives. It helps determine if managers are adequately representing the core values of the company and hints at employees’ ability to be their true selves at work.
You may also consider questions that pertain to specific company initiatives or address the shift to remote work in recent years:
6. “I am satisfied with the way the company has managed the business during this time.”
This question offers a look at your overall success in managing a particular company shift. If you want to drill down, you can add questions that address specific aspects of the project instead of creating a free-for-all where feedback is too broad.
7. “I am able to adequately communicate with my remote team.”
This question speaks to the resources you have provided your employees with to do their job adequately. Negative responses may suggest outdated technology, a push to keep team members more connected, and a call for more frequent team and company check-ins.
8. “The company has done a good job at cultivating culture remotely.”
Responses may initially skew negative as you (and companies all over the world) figure out how to navigate a remote workplace. This presents a good opportunity to follow up with more specific questions, write-in opportunities, or pulse surveys where employees offer suggestions for building remote culture.
Learn More: The Do's and Don'ts of Survey Design
You can even try open-ended questions at the end that invite write-in answers. (Just remember, subjective data is more time-consuming to assess.) These may include questions like:
9. “What are some specific areas the company can improve in?” (write in)
Write-in responses are especially effective when you need additional ideas or want employee feedback to drive a new initiative. Sometimes, the best ones come from the people instead of leadership.
10. “What else should we have asked in this survey?” (write in)
If you’ve asked plenty of other questions that address various aspects of the business, this feedback area serves as a “catch-all” so employees can express what’s on their minds—even if you don’t specifically ask about it.
Formstack is an Expert in Survey Management
At Formstack, we’ve been helping people of all roles and industries get the data they need from surveys for more than 15 years. We understand better than anyone that the length and format of a questionnaire can make or break the results. That’s why we’ve perfected our Forms tool to help you increase participant access and mobility, advance your brand standards, and glean the data you need to make improvements.
Whether you’re sending employee surveys, facilitating performance reviews, or onboarding new team members, Formstack has the no-code survey features you need to streamline company workflows. Because when you have the right data, you can make the right decisions to improve the employee experience—and the bottom line.