Employee Engagement Survey Questions and Tips All HR Leaders Must Know

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COVID-19 has significantly impacted our daily lives. It’s also shifted how we work. While many of us needed to quickly adapt to a permanent work-from-home environment, many others were required to abide by changing safety regulations, with many required to complete health screenings before coming to the workplace.

Listening to your employees has always been important. These unique times have only made it more crucial for companies to truly understand the employee experience, from their point-of-view. That is where employee engagement surveys come in.

A disengaged employee is an unhappy one, and employees are more likely to leave if they feel disconnected from their employer. This costs companies thousands of dollars per employee due to lost knowledge, not to mention additional resources relating to interviewing, training, and other time-intensive onboarding activities.

However costly losing employees may be, there’s a simple way to begin making improvements: Asking the right employee engagement survey questions to get the best glimpse into employees’ minds and gain insights to improve the employee experience.

But what types of questions should you be asking? How should you engage your employees for their feedback and measure employee engagement? We take a closer look at what you need to know in this post.

What is employee engagement, and what are employee engagement surveys?

Employee engagement refers to how much an employee feels involved, connected, supported, empowered, and committed to their employer.

There are many drivers of employee engagement, some of which we look at later in this post.

What is the best way to know exactly how your employees feel? Ask them directly. Many companies turn to employee engagement surveys to fill this knowledge gap.

Insights from these surveys help align executives and managers on their employees’ general sentiment. Most importantly, towards specific parts of their work environment. Asking the right employee engagement survey questions will help uncover insights your organization that management and your HR department can use to inform initiatives to boost overall employee satisfaction and engagement, and reduce employee turnover.

Why are employee engagement surveys important?

Gallup found that less than 40% of employees in the US felt engaged at work in 2020. Considering that employee disengagement costs companies between $450-500 billion dollars annually (productivity loss, etc.), this is concerning.

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, more than 80% of US-based workers say that it has affected their daily work lives. “Business as usual” was far from the reality for most, with everyone forced to adapt to significant shifts in their day-to-day.

Employees want to feel heard. They want to feel that their word is taken seriously. More than 95% of employees know when they feel disengaged, and employee engagement surveys are essential to bring these causes of disengagement to light.

Plus, these surveys give employers a snapshot of how employees feel at a point in time, and how it’s trending. Most importantly, surveys identify ways to remedy any sources of disengagement.

Employee engagement survey questions: 4 types you should be asking

Employee engagement surveys should touch on a number of different criteria that spans the whole workplace experience. The questions you ask should reflect your own company’s goals and experience. Although, there are certain types of questions and survey results HR leaders should closely monitor, especially in these unique times.

Here are four types of employee engagement survey questions to ask:

1. Leadership

According to a Gallup study, one in two employees leave a job to “get away from a manager.” Coupled with how managers were found to account for at least 70% of employees’ level of engagement, the significant impact of leadership on employee disengagement is undeniable.

Everything from how an employee perceives leadership’s decision-making and ability to clearly communicate and inform their employees are significant factors every HR manager should measure. No employee wants to feel like they are on a ship without a compass.

2. Inclusion

Promoting a diverse, inclusive, and fair work environment can significantly affect how engaged employees feel with their employers. Not to mention, how likely they are to stay (or leave).

The Kapor Center found 37% of employees in the Tech sector left their previous employer due to mistreatment or unfairness in the workplace. That was cited even more than “actively seeking better opportunities,” in which “unfairness” also played a role in their decision.

Another study highlighted by Deloitte shows a strong link between a company’s diversity practices and how much their employees feel trust and engagement towards them, leading to higher perceived inclusion levels.

Instilling an inclusive company culture that values different perspectives and ensures fair rewards for all employees is critical to improve employee engagement levels and retain top talent. Measuring how employees rate your organization in this regard helps identify opportunities to do so.

3. Remote Work

The advent of COVID-19 forced companies to adapt to new safety and health regulations quickly. At the same time, employees needed to adjust their day-to-day work lives abruptly.

Many employees have since adjusted to working from home permanently. However, it can still present a challenge to many employees used to working on location.

Feeling disconnected, being less productive, not feeling as supported as they were while working at your physical locations – many employees experience these realities every day. Tracking and trending how well employees are adapting to their new workplace realities and how well they feel the organization is supporting them is essential during these challenging times.

According to Gallup, employee engagement is a consistent predictor of profitability, customer loyalty, and productivity. This is also being seen during massive changes in the economy and tech advances.

4. Intent to Stay

Some employees can be reluctant to share with you their future plans at your company. However, employee engagement surveys provide a perfect opportunity to share what’s on their minds with you anonymously.

Along with the other criteria mentioned in this section, consider asking them to rate intangible aspects of their employee experience that could impact their decision to stay (or leave). For example, are they proud to work at your company? Do they feel appreciated? Do they feel a sense of accomplishment?

Trending employees’ stated intent to stay provides a sense of whether your company is heading in the right direction. At the same, using pulse surveys instead of traditional annual ones makes it easier to flag issues and address them more quickly, before they snowball over the course of a year (more on this in the next section).

How should you conduct employee engagement surveys? 5 best practices

Overall, these surveys should provide you with timely insights, and be easy and convenient for employees to complete.

Here are some best practices to make this happen:

1. Use pulse surveys vs. annual ones

Traditional, once-a-year employee surveys are great for year-over-year trending. However, a key limitation is that you are only engaging your workforce once a year. A lot can happen over a year that may be too late for annual surveys to uncover. Or worse, to act upon.

Pulse surveys allow you to obtain more feedback more frequently over the course of the same year, ensuring you have a source of fresh and relevant feedback available. Although, when it comes to determining how often to engage your employees, be sure to consider how quickly your company is set up to digest and act upon the employee feedback. For example, it would be counterproductive to collect feedback monthly if your company can only act upon it twice a year.

89% of HR leaders say ongoing feedback collection and check-ins with employees positively impact their organization.

2. Be consistent when you engage employees for their feedback

It’s essential to be consistent when to send out your surveys, especially for trending purposes. Tying back to the first point, choose a timeframe that works best with your internal processes.

If you choose to send a survey at the end of every quarter, it is best to maintain this timing for all future surveys. This will not ensure consistent trending and period-to-period comparisons, but it will also help better trend the impact of any initiatives you put in place based on your employees’ feedback.

3. Get a representative sample of your employees

Engagement surveys should provide a sense of how much all employees feel. Team morale can vary a lot from one department to the next. As such, it can be easy to overstate (or understate) engagement in your organization if feedback is collected only from a small subset of employees. This can then lead to less effective decision-making.

Sharing the survey with the whole company and maximizing participation is key to ensuring a representative sample.

4. Make it easy for employees to share their feedback

To ensure strong survey response rates, use a collection method that makes it easy and convenient for your employees. Whether by email, SMS, or even embedded in your company intranet, seek a channel that your employees are adept at using in their daily work lives.

5. Don’t forget open-ended questions

Asking close-ended questions makes it easy to quantify and trend engagement. However, open-ended questions also help provide context behind the ratings. Open the floor to employees to share additional insights in their own words. It can help spot positives, negatives, and trends that you may not yet be aware of, or wouldn’t have been able to uncover using rating questions alone.

To ensure anonymity, remind employees not to share information that could help personally identify them.

For more best practices, check out our tip sheet: “Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Engagement Surveys.”

Employee engagement survey solutions

Collecting and acting on employee feedback is essential to offer a positive workplace with high engagement among team members, especially in these unique times.

Astute Employee Pulse gives you the tools to keep a finger on the pulse of your employees’ engagement, and drive meaningful change in your organization. Leverage a pre-configured survey designed by our experts to help you ask the right employee engagement survey questions, coupled with intuitive reporting powered by Tableau® that you can share with your key internal decision-makers.

See how Astute can help you improve employee engagement. Schedule a personalized demo today.