Employee Engagement Surveys: Asking the Right Questions to Connect to Your Staff

December 27, 2023

Turnover rate keeping you awake at night? Let’s talk about how to stop your team from resembling a revolving door of faces.

We've all experienced it: an office where staff members seem as cheerful as deflated balloons. Productivity is at a standstill. Employees are eyeing the exit. And managing the disillusioned workforce is almost impossible.

But worry not — you have the power to diagnose your employees’ malaise. Time to prescribe an employee engagement survey.

Engagement surveys alone aren’t the antidote, but they are a helpful first step for understanding what might be causing employee disengagement. In this article, we’ll break down the art of conducting an engagement survey and, more importantly, how to act on the results.

Key Takeaways

  • An employee engagement survey asks your employees how they feel about their jobs, coworkers, and organization. These surveys provide key data points that fuel an effective employee engagement strategy.
  • Engagement surveys range from quick and frequent pulse checks to more comprehensive annual deep dives.
  • Analyze your results to reap the benefits of engagement surveys. After you’ve gathered the results, conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the responses and develop an action plan to follow through on your insights.

What is an Employee Engagement Survey?

Let's start with the basics — what is an employee engagement survey? These surveys are like the mood rings of the workplace, revealing how your workforce really feels about their job, colleagues, and the organization.

But hold up: why should you even care about employee engagement? The whole point of these surveys isn't just about how many emojis they're using in emails. No, it's about how committed, motivated, and satisfied they are with their jobs.

Engaged employees are more productive and creative, and they stick around longer — which means a lower turnover and a boost to your bottom line. That sounds like a win to us.

Learn More: Six Benefits of Employee Engagement

Types of Engagement Surveys

Engagement surveys come in a variety of options, including:

  • Annual employee engagement surveys. Think of this as the granddaddy of engagement surveys. It's the once-a-year deep dive into your team's overall satisfaction and engagement levels.
  • Pulse surveys. These are like quick taste tests — short, snappy, and sent out frequently. They’re perfect for staying on top of your team's mood in real time.
  • Employee lifecycle surveys. These surveys are administered at various points throughout the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to exit, helping you understand experiences at every stage.
  • Employee experience surveys. This type dives into the nitty-gritty details of daily life at your company, from the coffee machine to the conference room. They’re all about making the everyday environment better.
  • Company culture surveys. In other words, the ultimate vibe check. Understand your team's values, beliefs, and what makes your company unique.

Benefits of Employee Engagement Surveys

Surveys can be the key to unlocking the type of engaged behavior that drives drive 23% higher productivity and 81% less absenteeism. Provided you implement a well-thought-out employee engagement survey strategy (and you act on the results!), your organization can benefit through:

Increased Employee Satisfaction

Who doesn't want satisfied employees? Engagement surveys help you figure out what's been bugging your team and how to make them happier.

In fact, Gallup reports that, since 2020, the highest recorded engagement rate in the U.S. was 36%, but by 2023, this had dipped to 31%. Surveys help diagnose any engagement issues, which you can remedy to increase satisfaction.

Improved Employee Retention

Want to keep your top talent in the house? Then surveys should be in your toolbox. A well-crafted survey can help you understand why employees might want to leave (and even why they want to stay), saving you the time and money it would take to replace them.

With almost 70% of U.S. workers planning on quitting their jobs in 2023, employee retention is more critical than ever. An engagement survey helps bring problems to light before your workers start updating their resumes.

More Trust and Empathy

Surveys can create greater understanding between you and your team, fostering a more compassionate workplace by building trust and empathy.

Unfortunately, 86% of employees believe their employers don't listen fairly or equally. Surveys can act as the employee voice, and a line of communication from employees to leadership. Just don’t forget to take the feedback to heart.

How to Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey

It's time: you're ready to rock those surveys. The following best practices will help you create engagement surveys like a pro.

1. Identify the Survey Frequency

You want to find a sweet spot when you think about how often to send out surveys. Nobody likes to be bombarded with feedback requests as it can be overwhelming.

Instead, aim for a balanced approach, conducting surveys on an annual or quarterly basis. This ensures you can gather valuable insights without risking survey fatigue.

Also consider timing surveys at certain points in the employee lifecycle, such as one week, one month, and one year after an employee’s first day. This provides more specific insights into your onboarding or training experience, and you can measure if engagement increases or decreases during an employee’s first year.

2. Determine Survey Length

The frequency of the survey should determine its length. Keep your monthly or quarterly pulse surveys snappy (think five to 10 questions). Your annual engagement surveys likely warrant more questions (in the 30-to-40 range).

Ultimately, nobody wants to spend an eternity answering question after question. So, make sure your survey isn’t a burden, or you might see low participation.

3. Format and Develop Questions

Variety is the spice of life, and your survey questions are no exception. Mix things up with a blend of multiple-choice, open-ended, and rating scales to provide different types of material to analyze.

Close-ended questions can be easier to parse at scale. Your participants are locked into a set of responses, so you can easily quantify the results and slice and dice across departments as needed.

Open-ended responses are a little trickier to analyze but provide a fountain of insight and nuance. These types of questions give your employees the opportunity to be more descriptive with their feedback.

You can comb through responses manually, but the latest and greatest employee survey software is equipped with Natural Language Processing capabilities that can make interpreting text responses much faster.

Learn More: AI in HR: From Efficiency to Employee Engagement

4. Identify Response Storage: Anonymous or Confidential?

Will your surveys be anonymous or confidential? Both have their pros and cons.

  • Anonymous surveys encourage employees to be more honest and candid, but you’ll have less power to address their problems directly.
  • Confidential surveys tie an employee’s name to a survey, which allows you to be more prescriptive in your follow-up strategy. But employees may worry about potential retribution for their feedback and temper their responses.

The approach you take depends on the goals of your survey. But be sure to disclose to your employees how the results will be stored. This transparency helps build trust.

5. Distribute and Collect Results

Last but not least, remember to get the word out. What good is a survey if no one responds to it?

You can hand out paper surveys or distribute an online survey link via email, but both can leave you with a pile of data to sift through.

If you have an all-in-one HR solution equipped with employee survey software, you can automatically assign your survey to relevant employees, and the platform should collect and analyze responses as they return.

Sample Engagement Survey Questions

Did you really think we were going to finish without first providing you with some sample questions? Here's a selection of employee engagement survey questions you might want to include.

Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions

  • On a scale of one to 10, how satisfied are you with your current job?
  • How happy are you with your work-life balance?
  • Do you believe there are opportunities for career growth and development within the company?
  • How well does your team collaborate on projects and tasks?
  • Do you feel the company's values align with your own?
  • How would you rate the support and guidance provided by your immediate supervisor?
  • How likely are you to recommend this company as a great place to work?

Employee Engagement Survey Questions

  • How do you feel about your day-to-day work?
  • Would you recommend working for this company to your friends?
  • Are you excited to come to work?
  • Do you feel pride in your work?
  • Are your benefits and pay satisfactory?
  • Do you find enjoyment in your co-workers?
  • Do you feel inspired by our company's vision and values?

Workplace Culture Survey Questions

  • How comfortable do you feel sharing your ideas at work with peers and management?
  • Do you feel as if teamwork and collaboration are championed at work?
  • How would you describe the workplace culture?
  • Do you feel you can be yourself at work?
  • Do you feel you can be creative at work?
  • Have your ideas been implemented often?
  • In a few words, how would you describe the company's team leaders?

How to Improve Engagement Survey Response Rates

You've now got your engagement survey questions lined up and ready to roll. But there's one important factor that can make or break its success: the response rate.

After all, the more employees there are participating, the richer the insights you’ll gain. So, how do you convince your team to share their thoughts? Here are some tips.

  • Communication is key. Let your employees in on the game plan. Before launching the survey, send out clear and transparent communications about why it matters, how it'll help improve the workplace, and what's in it for them.
  • Timing is everything. Choosing the right time to conduct your survey can make a massive difference. Avoid launching it during crunch times, like end-of-quarter rushes or holiday seasons, when people may be too busy to participate.
  • Incentivize participation. Offer rewards or recognition for completing the survey. This could be anything from gift cards, extra time off, or even a mention in the company newsletter. Make it worth their while.
  • Follow-up. After the survey closes, follow up, share the results, and let your workforce know what actions will be taken.

Analyzing Your Engagement Survey Results

You've successfully rallied your team to participate in your engagement survey, and now you've got a flood of awesome responses. But how do you make sense of all this valuable data?

  • Start with the big picture. Take a step back and look at overall trends. What are your employee engagement metrics telling you? Are there clear patterns emerging? This is your 30,000-foot view, like gazing down at a colorful patchwork quilt. It's where you spot general themes and hotspots.
  • Identify key areas. Next, zoom in and pinpoint specific areas that require your attention. Just like a detective scrutinizing evidence, focus on questions or categories where responses are consistently positive or negative. These are your clues to what's working and what needs improving.
  • Dive into specific feedback. Don't forget to read any open-ended feedback or commentary. Sometimes, the most valuable insights hide in these paragraphs.
  • Compare and contrast. If you've conducted surveys in the past, compare the results. Are there any notable shifts or trends?
  • Don't judge the feedback. Remember, the goal isn't to pass judgment but to gain understanding. Every response is a piece of the puzzle, and your role is to assemble it into a meaningful picture.
  • Involve your team. Consider forming a cross-functional team to help analyze the results. Different perspectives can lead to richer insights.
  • Create action plans. Finally, turn your insights into actions. Develop concrete plans to address areas that need improvement. Your engagement survey isn't just about data collection — it's a catalyst for positive change.

In the end, analyzing your engagement survey results is like peeling an onion — layer by layer, you reveal what's underneath. It's a journey of discovery, an opportunity to strengthen your team, and a reminder that the human element is at the heart of every metric and comment.

Communicate Your Results

Now it’s time to tell your team what their survey responses revealed. Be upfront and lay out the results honestly, with no secrets, just transparency. Your employees need to know their voices matter. When you spot the good stuff, shout it from the rooftops, giving kudos where it's due.

Handle areas of concern with care. Don’t point fingers, just show understanding and a genuine desire to make things better. Get your team involved in the discussion, making it a genuinely collaborative effort.

You should also create a roadmap for change, so it's crystal clear what's happening, who's doing what, and when. Keep the gang in the loop by sharing progress reports, and use those handy employee engagement metrics to see if things are looking up.

Finally, don't forget to throw a little celebration after things start looking brighter. It’s important to recognize hard work and a job well-done.

Remember, this is a journey, not a one-stop shop. Keep the enthusiasm alive, and be ready to pivot as your team's needs evolve. It's all about keeping that workplace vibe positive and friendly.

Leverage Employee Engagement Survey Software

If you’re trying to create a workplace that’s brimming with engagement and happiness, Paylocity is your partner. Our powerful Employee Voice survey software equips you with the tools to understand, connect with, and motivate your team.

  • Encourage open dialogue. Have heart-to-heart conversations with your team and even folks outside your organization, like freelancers or potential hires. Our survey software makes it a breeze to gather insights, no matter who's on the other end.
  • Data-backed survey questions. We’ve crunched the numbers and identified the best questions for understanding employee engagement and retention. No need to build your own survey. We'll send out prepopulated engagement surveys and collect the results automatically.
  • Gather valuable real-time feedback. Timing is everything, right? With our software, you can check in with your team when and where you need to. You can use ready-made survey templates or tweak them to fit your needs.
  • Translate results into action. Data is great, but it's what you do with it that counts. Our survey software doesn't just collect info, it helps you figure out what it all means. You can measure how your team feels, track performance, and see if everyone's engaged.
  • Add videos for engagement. To jazz things up, our software also lets you include video questions. This turns your surveys into lively conversations, which can make people more amenable to joining in.

With Paylocity, you're not just collecting data — you're unveiling the key to a thriving workplace.

So, why wait? Request a software demo today to learn more about how we can help your employee engagement efforts.


Make Data Work for You

Are you still relying on instincts or assumptions to help you make decisions? Your workforce is changing fast. It’s time for a better approach. With a real-time, easy-to-understand analytics dashboard, you can see what’s really going on in your company and make smart moves based on data. Share insights and results quickly with tailored reporting, and get to know your employees better to improve your overall experience.

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