The Best Employee Survey Questions of 2023
While some organizations think it is enough to survey their employees once a year and leave it at that, forward-thinking organizations know better. To truly understand how employees are feeling, their engagement levels, and their overall productivity, leaders need to be checking in with their people frequently. With the help of employee surveys, that’s possible.
To be impactful, though, employee survey questions need to be crafted thoughtfully, or else they may yield little insight into the issues affecting the work environment.
It’s almost like taking on a role as a detective. There is a problem — or problems — leading to employees feeling undervalued, unheard, or unseen. Using clues from employee surveys, your job is to determine what the cause of the problem is, and solve for it.
Read on to find out the best methods and questions to ask to implement a successful employee survey strategy.
Table of Contents
The purpose of employee surveys
HR managers use surveys to gauge employee perceptions. The tool allows management to check the “pulse” of the workforce, and can be done by asking questions related to company culture, employee satisfaction, or management efficiency, among many other things.
When developed and executed correctly, survey results can reveal insights around what issues are impacting the company, and who they are impacting most. Here are six other reasons why you should implement employee surveys:
1. Give a voice to your employees
Listening to feedback from your employees garners critical results. Over 89% of HR managers agree that surveys yield successful outcomes. What’s more, amplifying employee voices creates an environment that promotes a positive workplace culture.
But the employee feedback portal doesn’t have to involve a complex system of email back-and-forths. You can opt for a solution to streamline the employee survey process.
2. Provide measurable data
While employee check-ins could be used to measure individual employee satisfaction levels, survey tools provide a more reliable, wide-reaching sample that can be used for the whole organization.
You will be getting hard evidence around employee happiness and job satisfaction statistics. From there, you can compare these numbers to those of other companies or to previous quarters to gauge how your numbers stack up.
The prime benchmarks include comparing the scores with industry peers, local competition, or best-in-class companies. Key metrics of workplace culture and team engagement will also allow you to track your company’s development monthly or annually.
3. Deliver targetable drivers
As employees provide their feedback, you may notice a trend. For instance, the surveys could reveal that your employees are feeling stressed. The increasing levels of stress hinder their performance. In turn, surveys provide a regression analysis.
A regression analysis is a mathematical calculation that determines an independent variable that impacts a company’s key performance index. In this case, stress is the independent variable affecting employee performance.
Overall, employee surveys help you learn and dissect key metrics and indices. These statistical measures are essential, not just for HR analysis but also for building business strategies. You can create the questions you need by identifying the metrics important to your organization.
For example, a prevalent regression analysis model measures levels of employee satisfaction compared to organizational performance. Subsequently, you can ask questions such as, “Do you find meaning in your work?” to understand the worker’s engagement level.
4. Enhance employee engagement
After the employee feedback assessment, it’s up to management to analyze the responses and react accordingly. This is where things tend to get off-balance.
According to research, 48% of managers acknowledge the value behind surveys, whereas 45% of employees shared the opposite opinion about the same surveys.
One of the reasons why this is the case is likely the slow reaction senior management tends to have after receiving the annual engagement surveys.
For this reason, employers are better off relying on pulse surveys to gain faster data and insights in the moment, rather than six months down the line. In turn, managers can take immediate action towards points of concern.
5. Increase employee retention
Research indicates that over 31% of employees leave their job after the first six months. HR specialists attribute the high turnover to various reasons, from a lack of engagement to poor work culture and improper onboarding.
Pulse surveys can help pinpoint the root cause of your turnover rate and encourage employees to stay longer at the organization. Managers can conduct these surveys post-onboarding or during the initial months of employment to gauge recruits’ thoughts.
By showing new employees that their feelings are valid from the jump, you will create an inviting company culture where employees will want to stay.
6. Hold leadership responsible
When answering surveys, employees feel that leadership is taking a step toward hearing their voices and understanding their perspective.
It holds managers accountable to listen to employee feedback and ideas. For instance, if employees are asking for more flexibility, this is feedback management can ingest and act on accordingly.
Management can translate that need by providing, for example, inclusive parental leave opportunities. Announcing new policies should come post-survey so employees feel that they’ve been heard. After all, employee engagement correlates to the business’ wellbeing overall.
Keep in mind, however, that organizations that don’t follow through on pulse survey results can quickly lead employees to feel unseen and unheard, leading to disengagement and decreased employee morale.
What you should consider before conducting a survey
Before conducting the company-wide survey, managers and HR specialists need to consider a few factors. If you already have conducted a survey, you can review it and understand why it wasn’t as effective as you’d hoped (or, conversely, what worked well about it).
You may also want to review the intention behind the previous survey, as a different goal will need a different group of questions.
Which drivers in the company do you wish to foster and accelerate? Are you targeting employee satisfaction or engagement? Here are some points to consider:
Don’t add too many questions
Long-winded employee surveys will likely disengage respondents and affect the amount of tangible results management can act on.
Aside from being too long, you also don’t want to be repetitive. Some questions can be narrowed down to one all-encompassing question. It’s also important to keep the survey language clear and objective.
Employee surveys shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes to complete. When surveys exceed 7 to 8 minutes, the response rate tends to drop by 5% to 20%. As the rate plummets, the survey loses its value.
Be concise and neutral
Some questions tend to group two topics into one. For example, you may ask “Do you feel engaged and satisfied in the workplace?” The question lumps employee satisfaction and engagement into one question.
You may want to consider piloting surveys for a focus group before releasing the questionnaire company-wide. It’ll help you gather areas of weakness to develop the survey’s full potential.
Aside from that, when curating a survey, keep a neutral tone. Let’s assume you’re conducting an employee satisfaction survey and you’re asking scale-based questions.
Don’t feel the need to include statements like “I have a considerate boss who guides me through every task.” Instead, you can include “I am satisfied with the currently appointed leadership.”
Be transparent with employees
Managers need to be transparent with employees regarding the intentions behind the surveys and the metrics looking to be collected.
For this reason, employers can provide a set list of expectations at the beginning of the form. It’ll allow employees to understand what the questions are meant to achieve. Additionally, you can title the surveys based on their intended purpose, whether they’re an employee satisfaction or wellness survey.
Similarly, keep the questions relevant for the specific goal. For instance, if you’re assessing the employees’ professional development, survey questions about culture may not apply as well as questions about their career path.
Encourage employees to complete the survey
The average response rate for employee surveys is 30%. The lower the percentage, the less change and action the survey can bring to the workplace.
You can strategize survey completion rates by adding incentives. For instance, if it reaches a 100% response rate, you can reward the team.
With Workhuman’s Social Recognition platform, it’s easy to give Team Awards to groups of employees who have gone above and beyond.
Find the right type of questions to ask
Close-ended questions in surveys notoriously achieve little data coverage. On the other hand, the issue with open-ended questions may be the excessive volume of analysis needed to pinpoint a trend.
The good news is that the onset of AI technology, similar to what Workhuman uses, allows you to find keywords that display positive, neutral, or negative responses from employees.
In addition to the qualitative data you gather from open-ended questions, you can also reserve a portion of the survey for closed-ended queries to accumulate quantitative data.
Be mindful of the survey’s timing and frequency
The timing of an employee survey can heavily impact its response rate. For example, you wouldn’t want to hand out surveys during a holiday, when you know employees scarcely check their emails.
In terms of frequency, most employers send surveys annually. Nevertheless, yearly surveys are ineffective due to various reasons, such as recency bias.
The phenomenon happens when employees hold different opinions based on recent events rather than throughout their employment. Subsequently, the data gathered is likely inaccurate.
Plus, some workplaces have a fast-paced environment that’s constantly changing. In turn, one survey won’t provide as much valuable information as a regular survey would.
You can give out surveys at a variety of times for a holistic review of organizational performance. You can survey employees during business slumps, restructuring periods, or high-profit phases, for example.
It’ll provide a balanced overview and accurately measure employee satisfaction, engagement, and morale.
How to ask the right questions in your employee survey
As with most employee surveys, you should strive for relevance, conciseness, and clarity. Surveys reach their full potential when you find the trend impacting your organization’s need to succeed, whether positive or negative.
When building your next employee survey, find questions that encompass these key attributes. You may want to improve employee satisfaction, reiterate the company’s mission, or enhance the organization’s culture. Whatever the scenario, here’s how to ask the right questions in your employee survey.
Know your audience
The best method to employ when sending out employee surveys is to keep the questions straightforward.
Instead of asking, “How can the corporation systemically enhance recognition models?” replace it with, “How can we make you feel more recognized?”
The question is more personalized and easier to understand. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want employees searching terminologies to answer your survey queries.
Avoid fluff and inappropriate questions
Every question in the survey should serve some purpose in measuring a key metric. Avoid the “nice-to-know” questions. For instance, finding out what your employee thinks about the facilities may not serve as insightful in a leadership feedback survey.
Aside from relevance, steer clear of demographic questions. It’ll hinder the anonymity aspect of the survey. In turn, the questions will discourage employees from answering, lowering the response rate.
The only demographic question that may benefit a survey involves age. Employers may want to understand the work styles of different generations.
Remain relevant to the company’s goals
Before creating the survey, ask yourself questions like:
- “What do I need to measure?”
- “What kind of responses am I looking for, number-based or open-ended?”
- “What am I looking to get out of this survey? Are these questions accomplishing that?”
These kinds of questions will act as a guide to creating relevant questions. In addition to relevance, make sure the questions flow. Asking employees one-off questions without a clear purpose can increase the survey time completion and reduce engagement.
To make the reading process faster, you can shorten the questions by adding a key first term. For instance, you can write “My co-workers” and then ask multiple questions like “communicate well with me” or “are on the same page as me.”
Employee survey questions you should include in your next survey
Employee surveys are often divided based on their intention, whether it’s analyzing workplace culture or employee professional growth. That said, you can use these questions for your next survey or reference them as a guide.
Examples of employee survey questions
You’ll find a wide variety of options available for survey questions, but an effective survey is one that has questions that produce actionable answers. Here are a few sample questions to consider organized by survey type:
Employee satisfaction survey questions
Employee engagement survey questions
Workplace culture survey questions
Employee survey questions about personal growth
Employee experience survey questions
Questions about the company
Survey questions about management efficiency
Employee questions about work environment
Questions about work-life balance
Questions about compensation & benefits
Business process feedback survey questions
Fun survey questions
What are the five types of survey questions?
Employers may include open-ended, ordinal scale, interval scale, multiple choice, or ratio scale questions. Each type reaps valuable qualitative and quantitative data when assessing employee engagement, satisfaction, motivations, and more.
They can allow performance managers to measure an employee’s prioritization as well. Keep each type of question in mind during the survey design process.
What are funnel questions?
Survey specialists designed funnel questions to ease respondents into the questionnaire. The method involves initially asking general questions before diving into deeper and more specified questions.
Additionally, the technique is exceptionally effective when managers are trying to zero in on a specific issue.
What is better than a survey?
If surveys are proving ineffective in your workspace, you can opt for other engagement methods to help you achieve increased retention and positive work culture. The method can include operating focus groups, interviews, and check-in conversations.
If conducted sufficiently, the techniques will garner successful results. Eventually, you can apply what you learned from these methods to implement more functional surveys.
What are the three disadvantages of surveys?
While survey questions can help you gain constructive feedback, they may not achieve the results you need. In some cases, surveys are inflexibly designed.
They may not account for new organizational changes, especially for annual questionnaires. Plus, some employees may feel uncomfortable answering controversial questions that may challenge their leadership.
Questions may also be inappropriate for some members of your team. Overall, the feedback method may lack honest communication. Luckily, these issues are solvable through regular updating and anonymizing participant responses.
Gathering the right employee survey questions can make a world of difference to multiple aspects of the company, such as its retention rate, engagement levels, and satisfaction metrics.
To make the most effective use of employee surveys, reference the above survey questions, reevaluate your surveys on a ongoing basis, and be clear on each survey’s unique goals and objectives.