HR professionals know they need to stay in close contact with staff to effectively monitor employee engagement and to enable preemptive action if team members are unhappy with management style, pay or the work environment. But what should a company ask on its employee engagement questionnaire?
Let’s take these in four general areas:
Questions that measure career satisfaction and development
Your engagement survey isn’t just about the role a staff member is playing but also about their wider career. Ensure that you devote one section of your survey to career development, with questions like:
- Do you receive opportunities for professional growth in your current role?
- Does the company invest sufficiently in education and training?
- Do you feel the company is dedicated to your professional development?
Mission and purpose of the organization
It’s vital for team members to see how the hours they put in daily are contributing to a greater company mission. The success of the company’s mission will be based in part on whether team members not only grasp that mission but also feel a sense of pride in it. The analyst firm Gartner says mission & purpose questions are among the most important for any employee engagement questionnaire. Questions may include:
- Do you understand the organization’s strategic goals?
- Do you see a link between the work you do and the company’s objectives?
- Are you proud to work for this company?
Questions about recognition and value
Every team member wants to receive recognition and praise for doing good work, but the hectic pace of work in highly competitive industries, in particular, can mean that recognition gets delayed, de-prioritized or even overlooked entirely. Assess whether your recognition & value program is working by including questions like these on your engagement survey:
- Do you feel that excellent performance on the job is recognized and rewarded by management?
- Do you feel your remuneration package is competitive with the market?
- Are you or would you consider flexible working? (NB: In the UK, all employees have the right to ask for flexible working if they’ve been on a job for more than 26 weeks – but why wait for employees to come to you? Your engagement survey is a great place to gauge interest in initiatives like these.)
Questions about interpersonal relationships
The staff relations part of your engagement survey shouldn’t be seen as nosy questions about whether staff have a “best friend” at work, although most employee engagement surveys tend to ask questions of that nature. It’s true that staff work better when they have friends at work, but assessing whether staff have a strong commitment to their coworkers is also vital to productivity — and to detecting where productivity may be dampened by difficult staff relationships.
Gartner again recommends that employee engagement surveys skew towards these productivity-length questions. “Survey questions should help you understand whether employees are part of multidisciplinary, collaborative teams that help them complete their best work,” Gartner advises, based on the rationale that high-performing teams learn from each other. Your engagement questionnaire can also give early warning if unproductive or toxic teams are holding the organization back. Include questions like these in your survey:
- How do you feel about the people on your team?
- Do you have a good working relationship with your supervisor/manager?
- Do you feel that management treats team members with respect?
Assessing engagement should be an ongoing operation
Engagement surveys are inevitably linked to a certain moment in time: companies may not get a true view of staff satisfaction with their workplace, pay and conditions unless data is gathered frequently. But it can be both frustrating and challenging for busy staff to find the time to talk about their jobs in frequent engagement surveys.
One strategy, Forbes recommends, is to ask staff to keep a weekly work journal which lets them record thoughts and feelings, and to encourage them to speak up when problems arise. Similar to open-ended survey questions, these work journals can allow staff to work through their feelings rather than sticking rigidly to agree/disagree/strongly agree/strongly disagree, which can be a straitjacket in terms of productive feedback.
However, companies go about it, measuring and working to improve engagement is hugely important. A Gallup survey revealed that a shocking 87 percent of employees worldwide aren’t engaged and that companies with highly engaged workforce actually outperform competitors by 147 percent, as measured in earnings per share. Get employee engagement right, and the benefit inevitably flows to the bottom line.