Best Employee Engagement Survey Questions

By Simpplr Research
Employee engagement survey - employee engagement survey graphic set over orange background

Every year, Simpplr Research commissions research to understand employee communications trends and challenges. Simpplr Research is currently fielding a study with internal communicators. Two things are clear:

  1. Internal communicators see the ultimate purpose of their job is to improve employee engagement.
  2. Employee engagement surveys are the most commonly used mechanism to measure internal communications effectiveness.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of poorly designed employee engagement surveys. In addition, different perspectives between HR and internal communications doesn’t add to clarity. So we spent some time with internal communications practitioners to evaluate the best employee engagement survey questions and tips.

In this post, we’ll share 6 tips to get the most out of employee engagement surveys along with 15 employee engagement survey questions.

Employee engagement survey - best employee engagement survey questions

6 Tips for employee engagement surveys

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #1: Reiterate that answers are confidential (and mean it)

First and foremost, your survey will be worthless unless employees can trust you with their information. With various employee engagement survey technologies today, particularly the surveys that can distribute feedback to the department level, it’s inevitable that some people are going to try to reverse engineer the responses. That’s terrible! You have to gain the trust of your employees or their responses won’t be authentic. Make sure you over-communicate that responses are confidential and that you’re asking so you can genuinely improve.

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #2: You need an outcome variable

An outcome variable is often called the “dependent variable.” In this case, employee engagement is an outcome you should be measuring in your survey. You’d be surprised at how many engagement surveys don’t ask how engaged employees are. With this data, you’ll be able to run regressions on your results, understand key drivers in your organization, and understand differences between engaged and unengaged employees. Many organizations use an employee version of NPS, but we’re not big fans because the ‘likelihood to recommend’ question is somewhat arbitrary and doesn’t directly reflect engagement.

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #3: Understand the key drivers of employee engagement

There has been a plethora of research on employee engagement. Generally, they point to the same drivers although various studies may have slight deviations of the top factors. Simpplr Research has looked at employee engagement extensively and we recommend that you test for the following attributes:

  • Shared purpose
  • Alignment
  • Community
  • Growth
  • Managerial Relationships

Surprisingly, the biggest driver of employee engagement usually stems from this factor. It’s important for each employee’s personal values to align with the companies they work for. We may not admit it, but our work is an extension of ourselves. Too many leaders don’t understand this.

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #4: Make the survey about the employees!

A lot of employee engagement surveys fail to put the focus on the employee and instead quickly turns into a survey about other topics. All employees have basic primal needs to belong. It’s important to create a culture where employees feel safe, connected, and supported.

Here are some questions that meander from evaluating employee engagement:

  • How likely are you to recommend our company?
  • How likely are you to recommend your manager?
  • How would you rate our leadership?
  • Does your supervisor care for you as a person?

Focusing on the employee experience keeps the survey about employees and avoids contentious evaluations that put others on the defensive. Thus, your survey questions should focus on employee interactions with other parts of the business.

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #5: Have a ‘prove it’ section

You can take employees’ word, but since we know the importance of aligning strategy and cultural norms to drive employee engagement, hard data can help you assess how well employees are aligned.

Employee Engagement Survey Tip #6: It’s a survey, get feedback!

Finally, it’s important to avoid getting caught in the weeds of employee engagement so that you don’t forget to leverage employees to generate creative ideas and discover their top priorities. Ask employees to share their ideas but be sure to limit the number of questions. Carefully worded, open-ended questions will surface more than enough actionable insights.

Employee engagement survey - 15 employee engagement survey questions graphic

15 employee engagement survey questions

Here are some questions we created with the employee engagement survey tips in mind that you can use for your next employee engagement survey:

Employee Engagement Survey Question #1:

On a typical day, how excited are you to go to work? (Scale: 1-5)

Employee Engagement Survey Question #2:

How proud are you to work at our organization? (Scale: 1-5)

This question coupled with statistical validation that it is strongly associated with your engagement outcome is inevitable (we promise!). You should ask the question because it gives you the data needed to convince management to invest in improving culture and showing employees how their work (and the work of the company) has a positive impact.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #3:

Relative to your previous work experience, how would you rate your sense of community at our organization? (Scale: 1-5)

Employee Engagement Survey Question #4:

How confident can you recite our company’s strategic priorities? (Scale: 1-5)

Statistics show that employees who understand the company goals and how their contribution matters are naturally more engaged. Interestingly, employees don’t readily understand this themselves and often don’t believe it’s important to recite strategic priorities.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #5:

How much do you feel you’re growing in your current role? (Scale: 1-5)

Personal growth is an important driver of employee engagement. If we’re not getting better, we’re getting worse. It’s understandable if you don’t want to ask this for line functions, but typically knowledge workers feed on environments where they face new challenges and acquire new skills.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #6:

Relative to your previous work experience, how would you rate your relationship with your manager? (Scale 1-5)

We used to say: “We don’t quit jobs, we quit our bosses.” Employee engagement research shows this actually isn’t the most critical driver, but it’s still important.  Important: We’re not rating the managers, which can get contentious. We’re asking employees about their relationships with the managers. The survey is about employee engagement and should focus on the employee’s perspectives.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #7:

How much do you feel you are recognized and appreciated for your work? (Scale 1-5)

We all want to feel appreciated. This can affect employee engagement over the long run. Many times, employees are put in a system that doesn’t promote recognition or appreciation. Maybe the manager is oblivious. Maybe the organization doesn’t provide the tools.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #8:

How well is leadership sharing and conveying the company’s strategy?

Conduct a root cause analysis on any failed initiative and “communication” will always come up as one of the reasons for failure. We’re not evaluating leadership as communicators (as opposed to leaders) because they’ll be more open to the feedback and its more actionable. Remember, your leaders are people too.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #9:

How much do you agree with the company’s existing strategy and execution? (Scale: 1-5)

Again, rather than putting the focus on leaders themselves, we’re asking how much the organization feels they’re moving in the right direction. It’s an important gut check.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #10:

In your role, how connected do you feel to other locations? (Scale: 1-5)

The workplace is getting more and more distributed. Oftentimes, out of sight means out of mind and locations struggle to collaborate. This has an adverse effect on employee engagement because it leads to fiefdoms, communication gaps, and inconsistent messages that all hurt employee engagement.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #11:

In your role, how connected do you feel to other departments? (Scale: 1-5)

Similar to Question #9, you want to assess how well employees are working together across departments.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #12

How well do you know what is expected of you at work? (Scale: 1-5)

Scary question, we know. But in light of what we know about employee engagement, if employees can’t answer this with a 4 or a 5, it’s hard to see them being highly engaged.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #13:

Without cheating, please recite the company’s mission and core values? It’s okay if you can’t recite everything.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #14:

Without cheating, what are the company’s annual goals?  It’s okay if you can’t recite everything.

Employee Engagement Survey Question #15:

If you were CEO for the day, what is one thing you’d focus on? (Open-ended question)

Conduct an employee engagement survey today

Now that we’ve given you our best practices, you can get a head start on conducting an employee engagement survey today. If you’d like to learn how we summarized or findings from our Glassdoor research initiative, check out our infographic and whitepaper: Simpplr Research: Glassdoor Data on Employee Communication and Retention.

clipart for Simpplr research on the impact of culture on employee retention

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