Employee surveys are hard to get right. To make them worthwhile, you need to ask questions that give you responses that you can really do something with. Responses that are measurable and insightful, and tell you what’s good and bad about your workplace, and how to make it better.
That’s the goal, so how do you get there? Simple. All you need to do is ask the right questions, the right way. Easy, right? Not really.
Sure, there are general rules for what makes a good employee survey question — be clear, be focused, don’t be leading — but it’s easy to get it wrong and it can be hard to know where to start.
By providing you with 10 tried and tested employee survey questions, we want to give you a head start at surveying your most valuable resource: employees.
What type of questions should you ask employees?
There are many different types of surveys, and each one works best with different kinds of questions. We’re going to focus on pulse surveys, because they’re quicker to create, easier to manage and analyze, and typically have higher response rates.
The best way to describe a pulse survey is fast and frequent. You’re literally ‘taking the pulse’ of your organization and getting a snapshot of employee views on a specific topic. They are conducted quickly and regularly, unlike the tedious annual surveys that we know are still painfully popular. Survey fatigue is real, and pulse surveys are the answer.
Using pulse surveys in internal comms
A good pulse survey contains a series of short and specific, standalone questions. Because the questions aren’t directly linked to one another, you don’t need every employee to answer every question to get actionable results.
Responses are given on a fixed measurement scale, for instance, rating on a five point Likert scale, ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. Using a fixed scale standardizes responses, making the results specific and measurable. For our 10 questions, we will primarily be collecting responses using the Likert scale:
So what are the ‘right’ pulse survey questions internal communicators should be asking?
What questions do other organizations use?
Every organization is unique, so there is no ‘perfect’ employee survey, pulse or otherwise. However, Gallup think they’ve got pretty close with their Gallup Q12.
It’s based on research into survey responses from over 25 million employees worldwide, and through its 12, pulse survey-style questions, Gallup claims to give insight into the ‘12 elements of employee engagement’.
Given the research that’s gone into the Gallup Q12, it’s worth taking a look at the questions they use for inspiration into your own employee survey questions.
Not everyone agrees it’s the best approach though. And there are plenty of alternatives. For instance, Best Companies have devised their own employee survey, the b-Heard, which targets what they see as the 8 factors of workplace engagement. It asks employees 70 questions, which are answered on a seven point scale.
We can take inspiration from both these surveys to get a feel for what a measurable, insightful employee survey question looks like. But you don’t need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to get the same insights. You can do it yourself using our questions!
How we chose our 10 questions
Before we give you the questions, we’ll explain why we picked them.
First up, we’ll admit it, these are strongly inspired by the Q12 (you can call our questions the B10 if you like). So they’re short and specific, as pulse survey questions should be, are designed to be answered on fixed scales of agreement, and cover every aspect of employee engagement—from job satisfaction and personal growth opportunities, to an employee’s feelings about their team, manager and company.
While we’ve taken inspiration from Gallup, our questions have been carefully selected and optimized by our own data scientists, and developed through conversations with the people who will actually use them—internal communicators.
You may wish to complement our questions with more detailed qualitative questions, or sprinkle a few of your own, organization-specific pulse survey questions into the mix, but these 10 standalone questions are all you need to get started.
The 10 questions you should be asking employees
Without further ado, here they are. For each of our 10 questions we’ve given a brief explanation of what insights you’ll get from your responses. Unless otherwise stated, the questions (or statements) are designed to be answered on a five point Likert scale, as below:
Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither agree nor disagree | Agree | Strongly agree
1) How happy are you at work?
What it will tell you: Are employees generally happy in their job? Do they enjoy where they work and what they do?
Response scale: Very unhappy | Somewhat unhappy | Neutral | Somewhat happy | Very happy
2) I know what constitutes good performance in my role
What it will tell you: Do employees feel like their job role is clearly defined? Do they have clear goals and objectives and know how their performance is assessed?
3) I have access to everything I need to perform to the best of my ability
What it will tell you: Do employees have the equipment and resources they need to fulfill their job role effectively? Are there any obstacles to them carrying out their responsibilities?
4) I receive meaningful recognition for doing good work
What it will tell you: Do employees feel valued? Do they feel like their work and achievements are appreciated?
5) I feel comfortable giving opinions and feedback to managers
What it will tell you: Are there strong working relationships between employees and managers in your workplace? How open is the company culture?
6) On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
What it will tell you: Do employees feel like too much is expected of them? Are working hours too long and is the working culture too demanding or stressful?
Response scale: Rating from 1-10 with 1 indicating a very poor work-life balance, 10 an extremely good one.
7) My personal values align with the company’s vision and mission
What it will tell you: Do employees share your company values? Do they feel personally connected with what your company does or stands for?
Response scale: Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree | Not sure what the company vision/mission is
8) How likely are you to recommend your organization’s products or services to a friend?
What it will tell you: Are your employees proud to work for your company? Do they believe in what your company does or produces? Do they talk about their job positively outside of work?
Response scale: Rating from 1-10 with 1 being 'Not at all likely', 10 being 'Extremely likely'
9) I am given opportunities to learn and develop my skills
What it will tell you: Do employees feel like they are encouraged to learn new skills? Is there enough focus on personal development by the company and by managers?
10) I can see clear career progression in my role
What it will tell you: Do employees feel like there are sufficient opportunities to progress within the company? Are managers supportive of career development? Do employees feel like they have a future at the company?
We’d love to hear what other employee survey questions internal communicators have had success with. Get in touch with us on Twitter or LinkedIn, or sign up for our webinar to hear more about better ways to survey employees.