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6 essential questions for an employee engagement survey (EES)
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6 essential questions for an employee engagement survey (EES)

A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
16th January, 2024
A clipboard with a smiley face and various survey questions
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
16th January, 2024
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What is an Employee Engagement Survey (EES)?
Why is an Employee Engagement Survey important?
Six must-have questions for an Employee Engagement Survey
What NOT to do in an Employee Engagement Survey

Learn why you should regularly survey your teams and the best questions to include in your employee engagement survey.

Do you want to run an Employee Engagement Survey (EES)? Let’s uncover the basics together. With the right approach to your employee engagement surveys, you can get an accurate picture of employee happiness, how likely they are to stay in the business, and potential improvements you can make.
Is employee engagement part of a larger plan around collaborative work management? Read our guide on the best collaboration tools for your business.

What is an Employee Engagement Survey (EES)?

An employee engagement survey (EES) is a set of questions sent to all employees to gauge their feelings towards a business and benchmark overall employee satisfaction. Understanding this helps predict team member retention or churn, and the business can make changes to ensure employees are happier and more productive.
An EES typically includes questions around work-life balance, recognition, likeliness to recommend the workplace, and areas for improvement, or they can be short surveys known as a ‘pulse’, which is focused on one topic. Employee engagement surveys can be sent annually, bi-annually or quarterly.

Why is an Employee Engagement Survey important?

By committing to regular employee engagement surveys, businesses can benchmark their engagement scores and track how improvements have helped resolve common complaints.
An employee engagement survey also demonstrates that you care and are willing to make changes to create a better workplace for your employees.

Six must-have questions for an Employee Engagement Survey

1. Where could we improve in the business?

This question divides people, but it really can get honest answers that improve your business and employee engagement in the long term. The only problem with this question is that, by nature, it is sentimental. It’s also open-ended and can be hard to action.
To resolve this, include tick boxes around areas you suspect are issues, such as ‘fair pay’, ‘flexibility’, or ‘work-life balance’. This helps make the responses more detailed, makes answers easier to quantify, and shows common responses as percentages. You may also want to include a free-form text box for further text responses or if you have ‘other’ as a text box option.

2. Rate your happiness at work on a scale from 1-10 (1 = very unhappy, 10 = very happy).

This score helps you draw immediate conclusions on employees' overall attitudes to your company. It’s also easy to track employee happiness over time, so you can quickly understand if any initiatives implemented since the previous employee engagement survey have made a positive difference.

3. How valued and recognised do you feel by your manager?

Bonus question: Please share any examples of meaningful recognition, or areas where improvements can be made.
Answers could be ‘Absolutely / Somewhat / No / Never / Rarely’, and you may want to add a freeform text box for more detailed commentary.
By asking about their manager's strengths in recognising good work matters and tracking what does and doesn't work, you can spend more or less on appreciation initiatives with the most impact.

4. How would you rate your current work/life balance?

Bonus question: Are there any aspects of your job or work environment that improve or hinder your ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Burnout is a massive problem, especially with an always-on culture of messaging apps and tech. This question helps delve into the bigger picture to see if you're getting it right. You may wish to give responses such as ‘Very Good / Good / Okay / Bad / Very Bad’. Adding a free-form text box lets employees give further insight if they wish.

5. How likely are you to refer a friend or family member to work with us?

Taken from the world of NPS, or Net Promoter Score, this trackable metric helps focus the mind. Does someone genuinely want their family member to be in their work situation? Or would they suggest they run a mile? This metric is very telling - and helps identify your promoters and detractors.

6. Do you believe you can reach your potential at the company?

Bonus question: Why do you believe this?
While you could ask employees if their training needs are being met, this can sometimes generate a simple yes or no without the details you need. Include this question instead.
Positive, engaged employees will likely say yes and may offer details. Disengaged employees will state no and may reiterate why they feel this way.

What NOT to do in an Employee Engagement Survey

Want to get an employee survey all wrong? Here are the steps to take:

  1. Make each employee share their identity: Anonymous employee engagement surveys can provide far more general engagement overviews. By asking employees to identify themselves, they will feel that HR is watching them, and their answers may not be 100% honest.

  2. Only ask questions with yes or no answers: While it’s easy to quantify these responses, it’s impossible to capture the complexity of employees' feelings without space for elaboration.

  3. Ask questions with no tangible response: Fantasy questions like ‘You see a job on a website you like. Do you apply?’ don’t provide enough detail and invite a response that’s unlikely to reflect their true intentions to stay with the company.

  4. Ask, ‘Where do you see yourself in a year?’: While it seems to make sense to judge how motivated an employee is, this question quickly identifies the respondent and invites answers that ‘sound good’. Save it for an annual review.

  5. Make the survey hard to access: Bring your employee engagement survey to your employees to ensure you get as many responses as possible. For example, if you use Confluence in your business, Forms for Confluence is a great way to share surveys in a context that makes sense for your teams.

Start your first employee engagement survey today.

We can't stress enough the importance of monitoring employee engagement, especially if you have remote employees whose mental and emotional health can be hard to gauge. 
Show employees the benefits of being open and honest about their motivation and commitment to their work: take the time to create clear, specific, unbiased, and actionable questions, and you’ll reap the benefits. And remember: address any issues that arise in the survey! If you can’t execute the changes identified, you can do more harm than good.

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Written by
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
Content Writer
Elaine has established herself as a respected authority in the HR industry and uses her experience gained as the head of marketing in the employee rewards and recognition software sector to inform her reporting.
People Management