One of the most important ways to boost your company’s performance is by ensuring that employees are engaged in the organization. To measure this, management will often use surveys to get an idea of what people are thinking. However, sometimes you need to take a pulse on the organization but you can’t afford the time commitment, effort, and resources to pore over the details of every question. Unfortunately, the most effective times to survey the company are often also the busiest and most stressful.
For example, here are some insightful times to conduct an employee survey:
- You’re seeing a decline in morale, productivity, and collaboration
- You’ve recently launched a company-wide initiative (or you’re about to)
- You want to spruce up your mission, vision, and values statements
- You want to put a focus on attracting and retaining employees
- You’ve gone through a recent organizational change, merger, or acquisition
Realistically, you can launch an employee survey at any time. The key is to make them sporadic enough that they’re meaningful, actionable, and don’t overwhelm or distract employees, but also aren’t so far apart that trends can’t be acted on before they develop into a problem.
How to structure an employee survey
You can spend weeks or months putting together a data-driven employee engagement survey that will produce charts, graphs, and obscure percentages. But these surveys are served best if you’re measuring the data against previous results or it’s part of a bigger initiative that requires numerical inputs.
You’re also at risk of receiving skewed results. If employees want change, they’ll force change – and that can mean purposely dragging down a category. Conversely, you’ll have the employees who can’t be bothered and will answer all 5’s to not ruffle any feathers and go on with their day.
By asking for qualitative feedback, on the other hand, you invite verbatim feedback in the voice of your employees, with insights that mean something. Plus, they’ll feel that you value their opinion – and not just their ability to check boxes.
Quantitative & qualitative
The solution? Do both. Offer questions with a simple scale of 1 to 5 (strongly disagree to strongly agree), a “yes” or “no” response, and be sure to leave an open field for additional comments or feedback.
The employees who are passionate about company culture will use that space to tell you exactly what they think could be improved. You hired them because they’re intelligent and capable people who fit your culture, so chances are they have ideas worth implementing – whether those ideas are brand new or already on your radar.
Sample employee survey questions to obtain insights
If you do nothing else to measure employee engagement in your organization, do this: Conduct a quick pulse employee engagement survey aimed at uncovering general sentiment and themes about the company’s leadership, objectives, and culture.
Here are some simple questions that you can send to your employees today:
1. Would you refer someone to work here?
This question is sometimes referred to as Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) – which is a method for measuring how willing employees are to recommend their workplace to a friend or acquaintance. Their answer (on a scale of 1-10) determines whether they are a detractor (0-6), passive (7-8), or promoter (9-10). Then, eNPS is calculated using this equation:
eNPS = share“Promoters”(%) – share“Detractors”(%)
Your company’s eNPS can tell you a lot about how loyal your employees are. A high score means you have a large group of employees who would happily bring someone they know on board. On the other hand, a low score means you have a significant number of employees that aren’t comfortable with encouraging someone to apply.
2. Do you feel valued at work?
Feeling valued at work is one of the keys to employee engagement. This answer will tell you a lot about an employee’s relationship with their direct manager. A “no” answer means you have employees who don’t feel appreciated for the work they do (and you might want to invest in a way to recognize employees’ hard work). A “yes” answer means your people managers deserve kudos because they seem to be taking the right steps to ensure employees get just as much out of their work as they put in.
3. Do you have adequate opportunities for professional growth?
Employees no longer stay in a job for years, let alone decades. Whether organizations want to acknowledge it or not, employees are becoming increasingly picky about where and how they spend their days. If employees answer “strongly agree”, that’s an indication that they’re happy with the opportunities they’re being given and feel empowered to succeed alongside the company.
If the answer is “strongly disagree”, however, your best employees may have one foot out the door. If they’re driven to succeed and grow their professional career, you may risk losing them to an employer that will support them in doing so. If you do offer professional development opportunities, then the solution is simple: Ensure employees are aware of the opportunities available to them and follow through on your promise to help them build a future with your organization.
4. Do you understand the company’s objectives and how your role contributes to them?
This one comes down to communication – and determining how effectively your leadership team is connecting team and individual responsibilities to the overarching strategy. If the answer is no, you have an employee who is simply “doing a job” without ensuring they know why it’s important.
If the answer is yes, you’ve succeeded in communicating the company’s objectives in a transparent and consumable way (score one for communicators everywhere). Not only that, but you’ve created a sense of purpose within your employee base that undoubtedly motivates them to do what it takes to drive the business forward.
TIP: When setting up your employee survey, we recommend that you separate this question into two. You may have employees who understand the company objectives, but do not know how their role supports them.
5. What are the company’s top 3 strengths and weaknesses?
The answer to this open-ended question will show you several things. It will tell you what you’re doing well – for example, answers like “productive,” “fun culture,” and “collaborative” will point to your organization’s ability to execute your strategy while promoting a positive, teamwork culture.
But it will also tell you what you’re not doing so well. If your employees identify your weaknesses as “lack of direction,” “gossip culture,” or “silos,” then you know you have some work to do. Often, what employees perceive as weaknesses can be useful cues when building out your internal communications and employee engagement strategies.
Turn your employee survey into an internal marketing campaign
With the amount of emails employees receive daily, there’s a good chance they’ll skim over the ones that don’t seem very exciting or imply work on their part. Here’s where you need to think like a marketer. Treat your employee survey like an internal campaign (using your company branding) and put it out there for everyone to see.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Don’t hide it at the bottom of an email. Publicize it in an email campaign or on your intranet blog or newsfeed. If your budget allows, you can put posters up around the office, too.
- Equip your leaders and managers with speaking points so they can help you get the word out. Encourage them to promote the survey at team meetings and town halls and stress the importance of the exercise.
- The medium is the message and simplicity is the key: Use a simple survey tool and make it a simple process to show that you’re genuinely interested in getting results.
Show that you’re committed
In your materials, remind employees why it’s important to take the engagement survey, how long it will take (e.g. mere minutes), and when it will close. Making the survey available for only a short window of time will create a sense of urgency and importance, but too short will limit the number of respondents. You can even create a running tally or use a contest to create competition between teams or departments.
Then, make it clear that all responses will be compiled and analyzed in short order – with a promise that you’ll take action to address any major concerns or common themes.
The last step (and where many organizations fall short) is delivering on the promise. You won’t be able to solve all the problems at once, but acknowledging them and communicating with employees on a regular basis about how you’re working toward a solution will demonstrate your commitment to improving their experience.
Want to improve employee satisfaction? Just ask them how
An employee survey with purpose-driven questions is an easy way to invite employees into the conversation about company culture. The only way to know how they feel is to ask them. Making general assumptions that everything is okay – or worse, ignoring what you’re seeing or hearing across the organization – can result in a closed-off culture where employees feel undervalued.
Combat disengagement and attrition by starting a conversation with employees. Don’t be afraid of their feedback. Rather, see it as an opportunity to promote an open and transparent culture where collaboration and innovation drive revenue and growth.