11 Employee survey questions about work environment

11 insightful employee work culture survey questions


Attracting and retaining staff is a growing challenge for organizations all over the world. As attractive salaries and perks become more commonplace, employees and potential employees are instead focusing on an organization’s culture and values when choosing where to work.

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An organization’s culture and work environment have become a prominent factor in retaining key staff and recruiting new ones. It’s a huge piece of the ‘quality hire’ puzzle according to recruiting strategist Jena Brown, and quality hires can have a huge impact on service delivery as well as employee retention.


For organizations intent on holding on to valuable employees, it’s worth investigating what your staff thinks about their work environment through regular surveys. One of the keys to getting insightful responses is to ask what Joni Fedders, Aileron President calls “empowering questions“. “Empowering questions are open-ended, thought-provoking, challenging, and solution-oriented questions that cause a person to search for answers and new possibilities.” 


Asking questions that require only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer can have the effect of stopping the conversation, or preventing one from beginning in the first place. When compiling your employee survey questions about culture take the time to think about your questions. A simple rephrasing of a question can often change it from a dead-end to a conversation starter.


Here are 11 examples of survey questions you can ask your employees regularly to determine the general feeling among your workforce.


  1. What does a good work environment look like to you?
  2. What areas do you think we as an organization can improve upon?
  3. What one word would you use to describe our work culture?
  4. What do you think is the organization’s biggest strength?
  5. What quality have you seen in a colleague that you’d like to nurture in yourself?
  6. How do you see the work you do having an impact on organizational goals?
  7. What is the one thing that stands out for you about working at this organization?
  8. How can your manager be a better leader?
  9. How does your manager recognize or highlight employees’ work?
  10. What does a successful project look like to you?
  11. Give us a recent example of when you felt pride in your work or in the organization?


With work culture emerging as a key factor in staff recruitment and retention, it’s become more important than ever that you understand your organization’s culture and how it’s perceived internally by employees. Organizational culture is broadly defined by The Business Dictionary as the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.


Senior management could have a different view of the work environment than their employees. The goal of regular work culture surveys is to identify the common values of your organization and to hire people who fit in with these values.


According to Brent Gleeson of TalkingPoint Leadership, this is a critical point in the success of an organization: “Hiring based on shared values and cultural beliefs lead to winning results.”


An interesting study conducted by the Henry B. Tippie College of Business on the consequences of an individual’s fit within an organization showed that employees who sit in well with their organization enjoy better job satisfaction, were more likely to stay with the organization, and their job performance was significantly better than those who weren’t a natural fit.


Through regular surveys with probing, open-ended questions, organizations can gain invaluable employee feedback on the true work culture, and use that insight to enhance staff retention as well as give them a leading edge for recruiting key staff.  



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