20 questions for effective employee engagement surveys

You’ve read all about how employee engagement is a critical component of top-performing companies, and you’re ready to prioritize your workplace culture. You’ve had tons of ideas on improving engagement, and you and your fellow business leaders are excited to start putting them into place.

But before you can take steps to build a stronger company culture, you need to fully understand the culture that’s already taken root. The best way to accomplish that is through employee engagement surveys with questions designed to answer how your employees are truly feeling about the organization and their place in it.

When building an employee engagement survey, avoid the temptation to be overwhelmingly thorough. For quarterly or biannual surveys, stick to a maximum of 30-40 questions, while monthly pulse surveys are best kept to 10-15 questions. Employees should see surveys as an invitation for proactive participation in improving the company rather than another obligation to be fulfilled.

In addition to sliding scales, matrices, and ranked-choice responses, be sure to include plenty of open-ended survey questions. Allowing employees to elaborate on the topics they’re most passionate about can lead to some illuminating responses and offer important insights into the realities of your company culture.

Finally, keep in mind that if employees don’t feel like company leaders are acting on the feedback they’re providing, they may not put the same level of thought or effort into future responses. Research from Qualtrics shows only 7% of employees say their company acts effectively on feedback from employee surveys. Be sure to communicate regularly and transparently about the issues you’re identifying and the steps you’re taking to make a meaningful difference.

To help you create more effective employee engagement surveys, we’ve pulled together 20 of our favorite questions to include when polling your workforce. While this shouldn’t be considered an exhaustive list, it’s a good starting point for thinking about some of the areas you should be regularly assessing.

Employee satisfaction survey questions

Satisfaction-related survey questions take a broad look at how employees are feeling about their jobs and can help business leaders better understand their overall engagement levels and company culture.

1. On the average day, how happy are you with your job?

This question cuts right to the chase and lets your employees know you care about their happiness at work. Including a caveat about the average day encourages respondents to think about their overall satisfaction and can help compartmentalize any of their short-term stress.

2. Would you recommend our company as a good place to work? 

Your employees’ likelihood of recommending your organization to a friend or family member in the middle of a job search says a lot about your company culture. When people are enthusiastic about providing referrals for open positions, they’re much more likely to be highly engaged at work. 

3. Do you feel excited about coming to work? 

Another question that gets right to the heart of an employee’s engagement levels, this one offers a great opportunity to read between the lines with open-ended responses. People with strong opinions can offer detailed perspectives into morale across different departments. And for people who provide neutral answers, you can follow up to learn more about what inspires individuals to be at their best. 

4. Are your immediate coworkers committed to the organization’s goals?

Responses to this question provide a window into overall team cohesion and offer an opportunity for employees to identify coworkers who go above and beyond—or those who may be consistently causing issues for others.

For questions like these, keeping your surveys anonymous is important for gathering meaningful feedback. When employees feel safe speaking their minds without fear of retribution, you’ll get more candid responses and a more accurate picture of your company.

5. How frequently are you recognized for your accomplishments at work?

Employee recognition has been documented as one of the top drivers of employee engagement. By understanding how often your people are feeling recognized for their efforts, you can take action to reward individuals or departments who may fly under the radar for a variety of reasons, despite being vital contributors to the organization’s overall success.

6. Would it take a lot for you to leave this company? 

By measuring employees’ commitment to your organization, you can get a better idea of buy-in throughout your company and potentially identify potential turnover issues within certain teams or departments. Trends here can indicate the need to reevaluate salaries, benefits, and workloads or to offer additional training to managers or team leaders.

Employee alignment survey questions

Engagement survey questions focused on alignment provide insights into how closely your employees’ values match your organization’s. In a 2020 survey, more than 75% of employees described a strong set of company values as “very important.” Keeping a handle on how well you’re living up to your vision and mission builds a stronger culture with more engaged employees.

7. Do you consider your work for this organization meaningful?

Employees are happiest and most engaged when they feel a sense of purpose at work. However, sometimes people get so bogged down in their daily tasks that they forget the big picture of what makes their jobs important in the first place. Neutral or negative responses here could indicate a need to rethink how you’re communicating your company’s mission to your employees. Low scores could also suggest you should do more to recognize achievements by individuals, departments, or the whole organization.

8. Does our culture create an inclusive and supportive environment?

Creating a welcoming environment for all employees is essential in hiring and retaining a diverse and talented group of people. Varying responses across departments could indicate management practices in need of remediation while trends over time can illustrate the effectiveness of ongoing employee initiatives. In addition, comparing answers across different demographic groups can illustrate opportunities to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

9. How well do you know our organization’s core values?

It’s difficult for people to live your organization’s values if they don’t know what those values are. By polling your employees on how well they understand your company’s values, you can measure how effectively you’ve communicated those ideals to the majority of your workforce and take necessary steps to get everyone on the same page.

10. Are we living up to our values? Why or why not?

Another open-ended survey question intended to elicit passionate responses, this gives your employees the opportunity to sound off on what’s most meaningful to them. Hopefully, you’ll receive positive feedback about your company culture. However, if there are certain business decisions that some people see as being at odds with your organization’s values, this is where you’re likely to learn about them.

Workplace climate survey questions

While values, purpose, and overall satisfaction are all strong drivers of employee engagement, so are the daily realities of work life. Be sure to ask questions focused on determining how well your processes and communication channels are serving people’s needs. Managers and company leaders should work to identify and address recurring pain points that can wear employees down over time, leading to lower engagement and eventually turnover.

11. On average, what is your daily stress level at work? 

Stressed employees become burned-out employees who struggle to stay engaged at work. While any job can come with some level of stress, analyzing trends in this area can guide important decisions regarding staffing, department structures, and managers who may be falling short when it comes to supporting and inspiring their teams.

12. Do you usually have the necessary information to make important decisions?

The flow of information throughout any organization is essential in empowering employees to perform their best. When workers feel continually underprepared to do their jobs, even the most dedicated employees can adopt the attitude: “The company doesn’t care about this—so why should I?” By including an open-ended component, this question can identify where and why people are struggling to access the information they need and offer insights into potential solutions.

13. Do you have the tools you need to thrive in your role?

Gathering perspectives from the people who most frequently use your company’s chosen communication tools and software platforms is vital to understanding their effectiveness. While you’ll ideally be sending out employee engagement surveys far more frequently than implementing new software, it’s important to check in regularly with how your tools are impacting your people and where there may be opportunities for improvement.

14. Are you satisfied with your team’s workflow tools and processes? How could we improve them?

Sometimes small tweaks to a department’s internal process can make a major cumulative difference in your employees’ productivity and quality of work life, which is why it’s so important to continually evaluate your workflows. Additionally, what works well for one team may not be ideal for another so be sure to keep customization in mind when vetting new apps or platforms intended for company-wide usage.

15. Are you satisfied with our company-wide tools like communication apps, intranet, and benefits platforms? How could we improve them?

Asking employees to weigh in on how well your organizational processes and tools are working can reveal which platforms are a success, which ones should be re-evaluated, and macro-level issues that could be creating informational roadblocks for your employees.

16. How would you describe your average workload?

Unsustainable workloads prevent employees from delivering their best work and can even have serious health effects—a 16-year study from the World Health Organization showed overwork directly contributed to over 745,000 stroke and heart disease deaths in 2016 alone. Understanding patterns in employees’ workloads helps you maintain appropriate staffing levels and determine which departments and individuals are being asked to do too much.

17. How well do you collaborate with your immediate coworkers?

This question offers a window into each team’s level of togetherness and whether or not your processes (and managers) are working to help coworkers bring out the best in one another. In addition to offering a broad overview of each department’s collaboration, you may also be able to spot opportunities to facilitate teamwork by refining workflows or approval processes.

18. Overall, how well do we communicate across departments?

86% of workers peg poor communication as the biggest factor in most organizational failures, meaning there’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to interdepartmental collaboration. Pinpointing communication breakdowns helps create a more functional system of checks and balances, where every team is empowered to contribute their talents to steer the company in the right direction.

Leadership, education, and development (LEAD) survey questions

Any employee engagement survey should include questions evaluating perceived support for individuals and their teams, in addition to a few queries focused on professional development and advancement opportunities.

19. Is your manager actively invested in your success?

There’s truth to the old adage about people quitting bad bosses rather than quitting jobs—one survey showed 57% of employees had previously quit at least one job due primarily to their manager. Identifying the managerial or leadership challenges in your company is critical to retaining top performers and keeping them engaged for the long term.

20. How would you rate your opportunities to build career skills?

In a fast-moving business world, companies who allow their employees’ skills to stagnate may struggle to retain their most talented people, particularly younger workers. 87% of millennials say they value workplace learning and development, with 76% of millennials saying professional development opportunities are one of the most critical components of company culture.

21. Are you optimistic about long-term career growth with this company? Why or why not?

This employee engagement survey question serves two purposes—it measures respondents’ long-term commitment to your organization and can identify areas of improvement regarding structured career paths and advancement opportunities. Adding an open-ended element also encourages people to elaborate on their thoughts beyond a simple satisfaction score.

Once you’ve decided what questions to include in your survey, you’ll need a way to create and distribute it. Poll Everywhere makes it simple to design and complete robust employee engagement surveys with all types of questions, from anonymous open-ended answers to traditional numeric ratings. And because respondents can submit answers via browser, app, or text, employee engagement surveys become more accessible, convenient, and user-friendly. In addition to robust survey-design features, you’ll have access to a multitude of Activities that make meetings, conferences, and presentations more interactive, engaging, and memorable.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to connect with your employees, download our free employee engagement ebook for remote-first ideas on maintaining your company culture as your organization continues to scale.