The Harvard Business Review reports that companies spend over $720 million each year on employee engagement, and that number is projected to rise to over $1.5 billion in the next few years.
That’s a hefty investment! Knowing exactly how to spend that money is of paramount importance.
For many organizations, it’s the results of an employee engagement survey that guides their efforts. But just how reliable are the findings?
According to Forbes, the average employee survey response rate is just 30-40%. With response rates that low, getting an accurate read on your workforce’s engagement levels is challenging.
While there are many ways to boost response rates—from keeping it anonymous to offering an incentive —perhaps the simplest way to get employees to respond is to ask the right questions. Begin by defining the purpose of the employee engagement survey. Identify the topics you want to address and formulate your questions accordingly.
Types of Questions
Before we dive deeper into the questions themselves, let’s identify the three types of survey questions. Just about every question could be presented in one of these three ways depending upon how much feedback you want.
- Binary – Requires a simple yes/no, agree/disagree answer. This type of question offers a simple, quick response that’s black or white.
- Scale – Provides deeper insight into what the responder thinks or feels by asking them to qualify their opinion on a topic, usually using a scale from 1 to 10.
- Open Ended – Gives responders the freedom to provide as much or as little information on a topic as they please.
Address the 4 Cs
When crafting an employee engagement survey, get to the heart of your employees’ attitudes by addressing the key drivers of employee engagement, the 4 Cs: communication, collaboration, compensation, and connection.
Employees need to be informed to be fully engaged. Communication is key to keeping your employees motivated to continue to meet company goals. Determine how well your communication efforts are doing by asking:
- Do you feel that management at this company is transparent and communicates effectively?
- Do you understand the strategic goals of the broader organization?
- Can you see a clear link between your work and the company’s goals and objectives?
Coworkers’ have a profound impact on each other’s job performance and job satisfaction. In productive organizations, employees feed off each other’s desire to succeed. Gauge the level of camaraderie within your organization by asking:
- Are you proud to be a member of your team?
- Does your team inspire you to do your best work?
- Does your team help you to complete your work?
Compensation (and Recognition)
Beyond receiving competitive salaries, employees need to feel valued. Harvard researchers discovered that the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Determine if employees feel valued by asking them:
- How frequently does your manager recognize your performance and contributions?
- Do you feel valued for your contributions?
- Do you feel that you are compensated fairly for the work you do?
In a recent survey, millennials indicated that the ability to tackle meaningful work was just as important as a salary when considering a job. General contentment with work is crucial and worth measuring with questions like:
- How happy are you at work?
- How would you rate your work-life balance?
- Would you refer a friend or family member to work here?