Survey Says? The Employee Engagement Questions You Should (and Shouldn't) Be Asking

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by viperk's , last updated on


By now you know about the importance of employee engagement, and perhaps you've even taken steps to implement engagement activities in your workplace. But how are you measuring that engagement? Are you asking the right employee engagement questions?

Employee engagement surveys are great for assessing whether or not your people are happy and motivated. They also give your employees a voice, making them feel like a valued part of the company.

To be truly successful, the surveys should be anonymous so employees are comfortable bringing up issues and being completely open and honest. They can be longer yearly or quarterly questionnaires, or shorter weekly check-ins. There are even apps that allow employees to use their smartphones to indicate their overall moods, or to answer specific questions.

However you conduct the surveys, the key is to ask the right employee engagement questions. Keep questions short and to the point, and make sure they elicit specific responses. Don't talk down to employees or ask persuading questions or questions  you already know the answers to.

Ready to take the pulse of your organization? Here are the employee engagement questions you should --- and shouldn't --- be asking.

The Right Questions

According to TINYpulse, employee engagement questions should center around your culture and whether or not your people feel motivated, appreciated, and valued. Do employees understand their roles and how they fit in with the organization? Do they feel they are reaching their full potential and moving forward in their careers? Is there a positive and transparent culture of respect? By understanding where people stand in their current roles, you'll be able to see what it will take to keep them there.

In the end, you want to know why people like working at the company, why they don't like working there, and what they would most want to change about their current roles. The questions should require scaled answers --- strongly agree to strongly disagree --- not yes/no responses, and/or be open-ended. Check out these 15 questions from BambooHR to help you get started:

  1. I can see myself working here in five years.
  2. I have a clear understanding of my company's strategic goals.
  3. I can easily see how my work affects the company's overall success.
  4. I always know what is expected of me when it comes to my goals and objectives.
  5. It really feels like everyone is on the same team at my company.
  6. My manager recognizes my full potential and capitalizes on my strengths.
  7. I always want to give my best whenever I'm at work.
  8. I'm proud to be part of this company.
  9. I always recommend my company to others.
  10. The leaders of my company really know what they're doing.
  11. I believe in my company's mission.
  12. I believe in the approach my leaders take to reach our objectives.
  13. My company's core values are ...
  14. My company's mission and objectives are ...
  15. If you were to be president of the company, what is the first thing you would change?

The Wrong Questions

Again, employee engagement questions should be specific and focused and not rely on mere yes or no responses. If the questions are open ended, don't ask "why" things are the way they are, ask "what" can be done to change them.

Don't ask questions that put employees on the spot or make them feel trapped, and don't ask biased, persuading, or leading questions. Focus on the good and the bad, acknowledging the company's strengths and weaknesses. the positives. Also, as tempting as it may be, don't make the survey mandatory. If employees feel forced to take a survey, they may feel forced to answer in the ways you would want them to answer, skewing the results.

Finally, as Mark Murphy, founder of Leadership IQ, points out, never ask a question you don't know how to fix. Questions like "I have great friends at work," "I like my boss," "My boss cares about me as a person," and "I trust my boss" may seem like good things to ask, but if you get low scores on them, it can be hard to know specifically what needs to be done. Instead of being vague, ask questions that will lead to actionable items and, eventually, change. So, "I trust my boss" becomes "When I share my work problems with my direct leader, he/she responds constructively."

Bottom line, if employees' input is ignored or not acted upon, your employee engagement questions --- regardless of how effective they are --- will be useless and engagement will suffer.

How about you? Do you have a favorite employee engagement question? Or an example of the worst question? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

At viperks, maximizing employee happiness is at the heart of everything we do. Our employee discount and appreciation program optimizes employee engagement, putting smiles on your staff members' faces and boosting your company's bottom line.

Want to learn more about how you can help your employees be happier and more productive? We're here to talk.

Topics: employee engagement

blog author

Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).