How to Use Surveys to Measure Employee Engagement

Employee surveys can help measure engagement and help employees feel valued. Here's how to create effective employee surveys for your organization.

December 28, 2020

Article highlights

According to Gallup, more than half of American employees aren’t engaged at work.

This can be detrimental to workplaces. Disengaged employees are unhappy, unproductive, and have higher turnover rates.

The Engagement Institute estimates that disengaged employees cost American organizations up to $550 billion every year.

On the other hand, in workplaces with high employee engagement, employees feel valued, motivated, and committed to their work.

Having engaged employees helps organizations be more successful. Engaged employees stay longer, work harder, and are motivated to contribute to the organization’s overall growth and success.

According to Gallup, engaged employees are 17% more productive than unengaged employees.

Most organizations can tell if they have an issue with disengagement. If they’re experiencing high turnover, for example. But it sometimes can be difficult to pinpoint the exact problem and decide how to address it.

That’s what makes employee surveys so important.

Regular employee surveys can help measure engagement and help employees feel more connected and valued. Employee surveys can help company leaders gather data they can use to actively improve workplace culture and increase employee engagement.

Benefits of Measuring Employee Engagement

Most companies measure many different data points that are relevant to business operations. Many companies even track customer information to see how customers engage with their business.

Measuring employee engagement is just as important for effective operations.

Measuring engagement through employee surveys gives company leaders a picture of how well their company is serving employees.

They can see which employee engagement tactics are working and which are not.

When companies measure employee engagement, leaders can spot the specific reasons employees aren’t engaged.

With employee surveys – especially anonymous surveys – employees can directly state things that would make them consider leaving the job. They can share what slows down their productivity and what makes them unhappy.

When company leaders take time to solicit feedback and ask the right questions, they can work to change company culture for the better and improve things before they become major issues.

Here are a few of the benefits of measuring employee engagement through employee surveys:

Employee surveys build trust

Studies have found that employees wish they had more communication with their managers.

Open and honest communication helps build trust between employees and the organization’s leaders.

Good communication goes both ways. Employees not only want to hear from their employer, but they also want to be heard.

They want to know that their voice and opinion matters. A report from Salesforce found that employees who feel that their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.

Employee surveys shouldn’t be the only method of communication. But the sheer fact that company leaders are taking the time to conduct an employee survey can build trust with employees.


It shows leaders value employee feedback and take that feedback seriously. This helps employees feel like they are an important part of the company.

Employee surveys help identify issues

It can be hard for all levels of leadership to understand what’s happening within the whole organization.

Employees are the ones dealing directly with the customer or end user. They are the ones carrying out everyday processes. So they often see the issues more clearly than those in higher management.

Gathering feedback through employee surveys can provide detailed insights into what employees are experiencing in their roles.

It allows company leaders to remedy issues before they become a problem. This is particularly true for organizations that conduct these surveys regularly.

Employee surveys help leaders chart progress and trends

Tracking employee engagement through employee surveys allows company leaders to see trends in key metrics. They can see if employee engagement initiatives are having a positive impact or not.

Leaders can also compare employee engagement with other data—such as the impact new hires or resignations have on morale.

Measuring employee engagement helps leaders make informed decisions about how to improve morale and productivity. For example, if a particular department has high rates of employee engagement, employee surveys can provide insights on why that department’s engagement is higher than others. Company leaders can then implement those practices to increase engagement in other departments.

Employee surveys increase engagement

Regular employee surveys can shed light on what keeps employees empowered and engaged. They can help company leaders find opportunities to increase employee engagement and develop plans to improve engagement across the organization.

Plus, employee surveys prompt employees to reflect on their own engagement. Are they really satisfied? Would they recommend the company to a friend? Just the act of reflection can be motivating and improve their engagement.

By measuring and improving employee engagement, companies can make sure they retain and promote the best and brightest employees.


Questions to Ask in an Employee Survey

The length and focus of an employee survey depends on the needs of the company.

Some organizations do longer, in-depth surveys that cover a variety of topics. Usually, these longer types of surveys go out to all employees annually.

Other companies do shorter, more frequent “pulse surveys.” Sometimes, these shorter surveys only go out to a particular group of employees and focus in on one or two particular issues.

Either way, company leaders should establish a clear purpose for each survey. They should make survey questions clear and focused.

Typically, survey questions consist of a statement followed by a scale where employees can rate how much they agree or disagree with the statement.

But employee surveys should always include space for open-ended feedback, either on individual questions or groups of questions.

Leaders should distribute surveys to all relevant employees and allow employees to offer feedback anonymously. This will encourage employees to be honest since they know they won’t be punished for their comments.

Using a training management software, such as PowerDMS, makes it easy to distribute surveys and gather feedback.

Here are some of the questions companies should cover in employee surveys:

Job satisfaction

This is a good baseline to measure in employee surveys.

Questions about job satisfaction show how happy people are in their roles, how they feel about the work they are doing, and whether they are treated fairly and compensated correctly for the work they do.

Typical questions

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, rate how much you agree with the following statements:

  • I am happy at work.
  • I’m proud to be part of this company.
  • I always want to give my best whenever I’m at work.
  • The leaders of my company know what they are doing.
  • If given the chance, I would reapply to my current job.
  • I would leave this organization if another company offered me a 10% raise.
Open-ended questions:
  • What three words would you use to describe your feelings or mood at the end of most workdays?
  • What is the biggest stress for you at the office, and what might lessen it?
  • Hypothetically, if you were to leave this organization tomorrow, what would your reason be?


Value and appreciation

A recent study found that 66% of employees said they would quit their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.

This number is even higher among younger workers.

Therefore, it’s important that employee surveys gather information on how to make employees feel valued.

Typical questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, rate how much you agree with the following statements:

  • I feel valued at work.
  • I receive adequate and authentic recognition from my supervisors.
  • My manager recognizes my full potential and capitalizes on my strengths.
  • The leadership team takes my feedback seriously.
Open-ended questions:
  • Have you received any recognition in the last month?
  • How could your supervisors make you feel more appreciated?
  • How do you like to be rewarded?

Career development and opportunities

Often, employees are disengaged because they feel that there are no opportunities for advancement.

Employees tend to be more engaged when they feel the company is investing in their personal and professional growth.

So it’s important to ask employees for feedback on training and growth opportunities.

Typical questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, rate how much you agree with the following statements:

  • I have good opportunities for professional growth at this company.
  • I’ll be able to reach my full potential at this organization.
  • I have a clear understanding of my career or promotion path.
  • I can see myself working here in five years.
  • I feel challenged in my current role.
Open-ended questions:
  • What types of training or development interest you most?
  • What are some of your career goals?
  • Have you received training on a new skill this year?

Company purpose and culture

It’s important for leadership to understand how well employees understand the overall purpose and direction of the organization.

Engaged employees believe in the company’s mission and see how they fit into the company’s success.

Typical questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, rate how much you agree with the following statements:

  • I clearly understand my company’s strategic goals and mission.
  • I know what I should do to help the company meet its goals.
  • The leaders at this organization live authentically by the organizational values.
  • I would recommend this company’s products or services to a friend.
  • This company values honesty and transparency.
Open-ended questions:
  • Do you understand the mission and core values of the company? What are they?
  • What draws you to this company?
  • What does our company do best?
  • What would you like to see this company accomplish in the future?


Organizational culture

A positive workplace environment is a huge part of employee engagement.

Employee surveys should help leaders evaluate how they can improve the workplace culture.

Typical questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, rate how much you agree with the following statements:

  • I feel respected by my managers and co-workers.
  • I have fun at work.
  • I’m satisfied with my work-life balance.
  • I’m comfortable speaking up about problems at work.
  • I know where to turn for help if something unexpected or confusing comes up at work.
Open-ended questions:
  • What three words would you use to describe the workplace culture at this company?
  • If you were president of the company, what is the first thing you would change?

These are just a few examples of the types of questions companies can ask on employee surveys.

And remember that employee surveys should give employees the opportunity to provide an explanation or additional feedback on every question or section.

This will provide a more clear picture of employee engagement.

Employee surveys can help organizations measure and improve employee engagement, creating a more productive, effective workplace.

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