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Article 15 min read

16 employee engagement survey questions and best practices

Learn how to conduct an employee engagement survey and what questions you should ask.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated March 25, 2024

Several studies show that employee engagement increases team productivity, job satisfaction, and profitability—encouraging positive business outcomes. While these results are great for business, it’s often difficult to know how to increase engagement when your staff is uncomfortable speaking up or feels that they don’t have the opportunity to.

Some employees may fear angering management due to a lack of anonymous reporting, may feel that their opinion doesn’t matter and leadership won’t take action, may assume leadership already knows about issues, or may not know who to talk to.

Help prevent these barriers by encouraging communication and feedback through regular team surveys.

In this complete guide, we will focus on employee engagement surveys and provide sample questions, best practices, and tips for using employee engagement survey data.

What is an employee engagement survey?

An employee engagement survey is a questionnaire sent to team members to gain insight into their relationship with the company.

At its core, the purpose of an employee engagement survey is to measure an employee’s:

  • Emotional commitment to the business they work for
  • Dedication to achieving business goals
  • Enthusiasm and drive to succeed in their role

Types of employee surveys

6 employee survey tips

In this section, we’re focusing on questions that measure engagement levels, but it’s important to note that there are six key employee surveys you can administer. Some people lump these survey types together when, in fact, they’re subsections of employee surveys. We recommend focusing on one type per questionnaire.

Focusing on just one part of the employee experience can help you obtain more actionable data, prevent confusion, and elicit more well-rounded responses. The survey types are as follows:

  • Employee engagement survey: Learn more about your staff’s sentiment towards your organization, their commitment to the job, and how dialed in they are to company initiatives.

  • Employee satisfaction survey: Discover how happy your employees are with their jobs and the company.

  • Workplace culture survey: Gain insights from your employees about company culture and pick up tips for improvement.

  • Employee onboarding survey: Get ideas for improving the employee experience (EX) journey for new hires.

  • Employer improvement survey: Allow employees to provide honest feedback and suggestions to improve leadership within your organization.

  • Employee support survey: Check in with your employees to ensure they’re receiving the level of support needed to do their job, whether that’s through tech support, better equipment, additional training, or something else.

Employee engagement survey questions

Now, let’s dive into some sample employee engagement survey questions. We’ll break down employee engagement objectives and share some questions, along with the best way to ask them.

Feel free to jump through this section to see the survey question samples that match your company’s objectives.

Use the following sample employee engagement survey question templates to successfully conduct your own survey.

Zendesk Employee Experience Trends Report

Getting a leg up on your competitors starts with listening to and empowering internal teams. Learn how you can better support your employees and boost performance and job satisfaction.

Why are employee engagement surveys important?

Employee engagement surveys have many benefits, but giving your employees a voice is probably the most important.

Creating opportunities for staff members to provide honest and constructive feedback can only benefit your organization. You don’t have to implement every suggestion, but by opening up the floor, you make meaningful change easier to implement.

Some additional benefits of employee engagement surveys include:

  • Giving your employees a voice
  • Securing better business outcomes
  • Inspiring new ideas that lead to positive change
  • Improving employee retention
  • Enabling employees to create better customer experiences

How to carry out an employee engagement survey

Use employee engagement surveys to obtain useful data and apply your findings to organizational improvement strategies. Here’s how to conduct an employee survey in 10 steps.

  1. Think about your reason for surveying. Define the purpose of your survey to keep questions structured and ensure you receive sufficient data to make informed decisions.
  2. Select survey software. Choose a tool that allows you to create and send surveys and review your answers.
  3. Choose a format. Depending on your objective, you may need to adjust the format of your survey. If you just need general estimates, a sliding scale and multiple-choice questions might get the job done. However, for more comprehensive feedback, you may want to ask more long-form and open-ended questions.
  4. Write unbiased survey questions that align with your objectives. Take care when wording survey questions to avoid inadvertently guiding employees to the answer they think you want to hear or causing confusion that ultimately skews your data.
  5. Consider if anonymity is needed. Typically, employee surveys don’t need to be anonymous (and most of the time they can’t be since survey software collects user data). For employee surveys that don’t require anonymity, try using a survey tool like Zendesk.
  6. Tell employees why you’re surveying them. Give your employees a reason to participate in your survey, whether by offering incentives or explaining how you will use the information and how it will benefit them.
  7. Launch your survey. Once you nail down an objective and write some survey questions, launch it and send the link to your employees.
  8. Notify employees that the survey is open. Let your employees know that they can access the survey and when the deadline is on multiple channels, such as email, Slack, or via a project management system.
  9. Review the responses. Once the survey ends, review the responses and identify any trends or inconsistencies. If you need to, follow up with another survey. If not, you’re ready for the final step.
  10. Take action. Think about how you can use your findings to bring positive changes to your organization.

Employee engagement survey best practices to increase response rates and quality

Here are some survey best practices your organization should consider for crafting unbiased surveys and encouraging employee participation.

  • Avoid asking misleading or biased questions.
  • Keep surveys short and to the point.
  • Incentivize employees to participate in engagement surveys with prizes like gift cards, samples, or free swag.
  • Ensure questions are closely related to objectives and don’t veer off-topic.
  • Promote your survey by sending out blasts via email and social media.
  • Set aside time for employees to answer questions at work to maximize survey participation.
  • Send survey questions to employees over convenient channels like Slack or email.
  • Select a robust survey tool.

How to interpret employee engagement survey results

4 tips for interpreting survey results

Employee engagement survey analysis is perhaps the most important part of executing an employee questionnaire. Assess survey data to identify trends and actionable insights that you can use to bolster employee engagement.

You can interpret employee engagement survey results in four simple steps:

  1. Identify patterns in data.
  2. Follow up on unclear trends with qualitative surveys.
  3. Set benchmarks for future comparisons.
  4. Look out for survey errors and response bias.

1. Identify patterns in data

Review employee engagement questionnaire response data to see if there are any recurring experiences, problems, or suggestions.

Start with changes that are attainable for your business, then tackle organizational changes that will positively impact the greatest number of employees. Keep in mind that what’s “easy” to fix and execute will vary by company.

Some questions company leaders can ask themselves to determine if a change is simple and necessary include:

  • How long will it take to implement?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Do we have the resources to do this in-house?
  • How many people will it impact?
  • How will it influence business outcomes?

2. Follow up on unclear trends with qualitative surveys

If, as you’re evaluating employee survey data, you don’t understand the underlying cause of an issue, follow up with a qualitative survey.

A qualitative survey is an open-ended questionnaire that allows you to gather long-form answers that give the respondent more freedom to elaborate on their prior responses.

3. Set benchmarks for future comparisons

Scheduling regular employee engagement surveys, and implementing suggested changes, should improve the agent experience, increasing loyalty to the organization and its goals. To ensure that feedback trends more positively on future surveys for issues you’ve handled, keep past survey data handy so you can review them when you assess metrics in the future.

If employee feedback is still negative or just not where it should be )based on your set benchmarks) you’ll know that it’s time to reevaluate.

4. Look out for survey errors and response biases

Common survey problems to avoid

Keep an eye out for survey errors and response biases.

If a survey result is surprising, dig deeper before taking action to ensure you have a full view of the picture. Some errors you can keep an eye out for include:

  • Biased questions: Occasionally, your questions about employee engagement may guide respondents to a specific response or confuse them, skewing results. Avoid this by writing questions using neutral language.

  • Question creep: Sometimes curiosity can get the best of you, and you may begin adding unnecessary questions “just because.” Lengthy questionnaires can cause respondents to become disinterested, resulting in less complete or comprehensive answers to important queries.

  • Inadequate sample size: If you’re looking for company-wide insights, it’s important that you collect survey responses from enough people to ensure accuracy.

  • Insufficient information: Whether you don’t ask enough questions or employees simply fail to reply to all of them, insufficient data can make identifying areas that need improvement difficult.

What to do with your engagement survey results

Once you collect the employee engagement survey results, you should:

  • Visualize data insights on employee sentiment
  • Identify opportunities for improvement
  • Create an action plan
  • Ask management to discuss data and upcoming engagement initiatives with the team

Get better feedback to build better employee experiences

Now that you know what it takes to carry out a successful employee engagement survey, you’re ready to learn more about crafting a positive employee experience that keeps morale and performance high.

And if you need more insights about employee satisfaction prior to generating ideas to take things to the next level and engage your team, get started with our Employee Satisfaction Survey Guide.

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