Worker taking an employee engagement survey

9 Employee Engagement Survey Questions to Ask

8 minute read
Dom Nicastro avatar
Employee engagement is key to a successful business. So how can leaders gain insight into engagement levels? Internal surveys are a great place to start.

Gallup reported in January that by and large working remotely was effective. Little did we know then that over the next few months, we’d have to make remote work effective. After all, that’s where most companies play due to the COVID-19 world health pandemic.

One way to learn the effectiveness of your workplace is through employee engagement surveys. The questions themselves have to be engaging, and they must produce relevant data and responses your organization can actually use as a starting place to address employee engagement.

To help you craft a survey that helps find true insight, we asked experts to share some examples of employee engagement survey questions that will help improve retention and improve your overall employee experience.

How Would You Rate Our Company's Remote Work Policy?

James Carroll, VP of global sales and marketing at TetraVX, said that work from home policies have been a product of necessity in recent times. Thus, instead of asking the question, “How would you rate our Work from Home (WFH) policy?,” maybe use this as an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of working from home with your unique organization.

With everyone at home, has productivity stayed the same? Dropped? Maybe even improved? “Ask your employees if they’ve struggled with working from home or if they’ve found it to be a positive in their day to day,” Carroll said. “Do they still feel connected to their coworkers or has the culture suffered?”

Evaluating the receptiveness to working from home and the success of having a remote workforce will help you adapt your WFH policy in the future. Some organizations are already finding that office spaces are no longer required moving forward, saving on large real estate budgets and investing those dollars elsewhere. Others are understanding the true value of having communal workspaces and rethinking how to make those spaces valuable to their employees.

Remote work policies are vastly different today. It isn’t the exception, but the rule, and it isn’t going back anytime soon, according to Hugh Dyar, senior vice president of global marketing for Sapience Analytics.   “It’s a one-way trip,” he said. “The new question is: Now that everyone’s doing it suddenly, reality has overtaken HR policy development like a tidal wave. It’s not an HR issue; it’s the entire company.”

Related Article: 5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Through Good Leadership

Does Our Company Provide You with the Tools and Technology Needed to Effectively Do Your Job?

Many organizations required quick fixes if they found themselves unable to support a completely remote workforce during this pandemic. It’s important to go back, evaluate the solutions being used by those working from home and identify any gaps that still remain, Carroll said.

“In most cases, quick fixes lead to disparate technology that may overlap with one another or lack integrations, creating roadblocks between coworkers and their customers,” he said. “Take a step back and consider your entire collaboration tech stack and assess the damage. Then build a forward-thinking strategy to consolidate, integrate, and/or innovate how your organization works together moving forward. Work from home policies are here to stay and so should your collaboration planning.”

What's the Quality of User Experience You Get from Your Business Software Applications?

Also in the realm of the tools employees need in order to do their jobs, do your employees feel that their workplace software measures up to their consumer experiences with technology? Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” survey (registration required) found that 71 percent of employees want their company to provide them with the same level of technology they use in their personal lives. "If you want your customers to have a quality user experience, you need to start by listening to your own employees," said Brian Berns, CEO of Knoa Software. "Actively listen to what they tell you about their daily workplace technology experience and, if necessary, make improvements."

In many companies, employees in operations are interacting with enterprise software for much of their day. Understanding their relative productivity with this software, in terms of efficient workflow, transactions that are time consuming or non-intuitive, error messages, etc. provides tremendous insight into employees’ ability to be productive and stay engaged, according to Berns. “Some companies,” he added, “are even analyzing their employees’ engagement with enterprise software suites to uncover signs that their workers are having challenges focusing or functioning effectively.”

Related Article: Why You Need to Map the Employee Journey

Are You OK?

Berns said we’re calling these times the “new normal,” but let’s face it: it’s not normal. With millions now working from home due to the global health crisis — many of whom suddenly were charged with homeschooling their children, keeping elderly relatives safe and just dealing with isolation — it is very difficult to pretend that this is business as usual, according to Berns. Simply asking if they are OK can go a long way.

“For all organizations, business must continue,” Berns said. “So they must find ways to ensure employee productivity and identify if their employees are struggling in silence.”

Related Article: COVID-19 Puts Company Cultures to the Test

Learning Opportunities

Are You Able to Be as Productive Working from Home as You Were in the Office?

Enterprises were cutting their newly WFH employees some slack at first, but now workers are expected to be just as productive at home as they were in the office. Unfortunately, Berns said, there are plenty of potential impediments to that: Does the company’s enterprise software suite work the same way remotely as on-site? Are some employees less productive because they do not have their peers around to answer questions or address errors for them? Are others simply having trouble adjusting to the new normal?

“It is crucial that enterprises gain insight into user challenges and decreased productivity,” Berns said, “so that they can then support their remote employees with customized training, upgraded software, streamlined business processes or anything else they need.”

What More Can We Do for You?

This is an extraordinary time, and the majority of employees are arguably under more stress than ever before. “Organizations must show empathy for their struggles and a willingness to proactively lend a hand,” Berns said. “Organizations need insight into where employees are struggling — inefficient workflow, non-intuitive user interfaces, etc. — and then plan a course of action to make their systems more responsive and then measure the results.”

Managers must demonstrate that they understand the challenges of working from a new environment, isolated from other employees. They should also set very clear objectives, and remove all impediments to their workers’ productivity, Berns said. For example, he added, they might offer flex time, psychological counseling and/or tech devices like noise-canceling headphones to make their home workplace more conducive to productivity.

Related Article: Despite Billions in Workplace Tech Spending, Employee Engagement Is Still a Problem

Do You Feel Your Job Is Important?

Paddy O'Hagan, customer success manager at StaffConnect, said this question is the "perfect starting point for an employee survey." Asking an employee whether their role is important, O'Hagan said, indicates whether the employee is emotionally invested. "If an employee feels their role really contributes to the role of the organization, they are more likely to work harder, stay longer and become a brand advocate for the company externally," he added. "It’s also a great test to see how well the company has defined its core values and communicated them to the whole organization."

It’s tough to tell this in this New Age, according to Dyar. There are no visual cues, no office watercoolers, no in person meetings, no facial expressions. In a company where 75% to 95% remote is the rule, at least for now, people are rudderless and have no context, Dyar said. Getting the pulse on how an employee feels about their contributions to the company will go a long way in fostering a better understanding of their engagement levels.

Do You Enjoy Your Day to Day Work?

Don't forget about this one. It's a good thing to know whether your employees actually like what they do. "Enjoying their work is a vital part of any employee’s engagement with their organization," O'Hagan said. "It suggests the right balance of being sufficiently challenged, without being overworked. It’s also a great indicator of being in the right team with the right management."

However, if an employee is not enjoying their work, further investigation is required. Perhaps the employee is over-skilled, under-skilled, or not being managed effectively. Perhaps they are simply being put under too much pressure, or overloaded? "Dissatisfied or disgruntled employees need a platform/channel to voice their concerns constructively — otherwise their presence in the workplace can be seriously detrimental to their productivity and the productivity of those around them," O'Hagan said.

Related Article: Creating Good Employee Experiences Is Within Reach

Does Your Manager Inspire You, or Just Tell You What to Do?

Encouraging employee autonomy and maintaining good working relationships with management is key to developing a positive work environment, O'Hagan said. This leads to higher levels of trust and flexibility and this trust also encourages employees to try new things. "Managers who lead by example rather than micromanaging their employee’s schedules/task lists will encourage them to look for ways to creatively solve problems or challenges they meet," O'Hagan said. "Survey results here will provide feedback on whether further management training is needed to encourage self-sufficiency, so that greater productivity can be achieved."

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