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What Are Employee Satisfaction Surveys? (With Sample Survey)

Businesses spend a lot of resources evaluating employee performance, trying to figure out what workers can do to perform better. It’s a way of asking employees, “How can you help our business succeed?” But many employers are starting to recognize the value of turning that question around by inquiring about employee satisfaction and asking, “What can we do to make you happier?”

It’s a strategy designed to boost employee engagement, which can lead to increased productivity. And one of the best ways to measure employee happiness is with well-designed employee satisfaction surveys.

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What is an employee satisfaction survey?

An employee satisfaction survey is a direct feedback tool that lets staff members share their opinions and experiences. This type of survey measures workers’ feelings of contentment and empowerment. It asks questions about how they feel about company culture, employee growth, coworker relationships, recognition by superiors and other key issues. Surveys can be accessed via an internal online link and are usually anonymous so that workers feel uninhibited in expressing their views.

The benefits of conducting a job satisfaction survey include:

  • Identifying consistent issues
  • Letting employees be heard
  • Having direct feedback from workers instead of guessing how they feel
  • Encouraging open communication with employees
  • Using positive stats in recruiting materials
  • Quantifying employee feedback
  • Creating a record to monitor how staff satisfaction changes over time
  • Anticipating and potentially preventing upcoming turnover
  • Creating a positive feedback loop where you use the feedback you receive to make improvements

Why employee satisfaction matters

Evaluating the needs and desires of workers is critical to boosting employee engagement and business productivity. According to a study by the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, happy employees were 12% more productive than unhappy employees on average. That productivity stretched as high as 20% above a control group.

At the same time, employers that fail to improve workplace satisfaction can suffer from reduced productivity, high turnover, low morale, decreased ability to recruit good talent and negative interactions between employees and customers.

What to measure in an employee satisfaction survey

Employee satisfaction surveys vary from company to company, depending on the size and type of business. Overall, surveys should measure worker happiness, feelings of empowerment and attitudes toward:

  • Getting work done
  • Communication and instruction
  • Employee support
  • Distribution of workload
  • Appreciation and recognition by management
  • Company culture
  • Company mission
  • Other team members
  • Opportunity for advancement

Offering anonymous surveys helps generate honest responses, but companies can choose methods most suitable for their workforce. For example, managers can verbally ask questions in small groups or conduct exit interviews of departing workers to get feedback on particular issues.

Designing effective employee satisfaction survey questions

Surveys are designed to produce honest, genuine responses, so the questions should be easy to understand.

Keep these additional tips in mind when creating questions:

  • Be careful to avoid questions that try to elicit a particular response. The wording can make employees feel like they should choose a particular answer, which makes the feedback inaccurate.
  • Aim for a conversational and straightforward tone without corporate jargon.
  • Try to offer an option that reflects no emotion (“it doesn’t matter to me”), no knowledge (“I am not familiar with this topic”) or no certainty (“I’m not sure”) for each question.
  • Combining multiple-choice options and narrative writing can give you more well-rounded information.
  • Questions can use a ranking system with scores from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10, or they can be open-ended. 

Sample questions

Here are some sample questions that aim to measure employees’ feelings about their overall job satisfaction, a company’s mission and culture, passion for performing well, being appreciated and supported by management and working with others.

 Overall job satisfaction On a scale of 1 to 5, rate how you feel about your job overall. Please explain.
 Company’s mission How do you feel about the company’s vision and mission? Would you say it’s: extremely important, important, neither important nor unimportant, unimportant or extremely unimportant?
 Company culture Would you describe the company’s culture as welcoming to all people regardless of their backgrounds? (Answers can be “yes,” “no” or “not sure.”) Please explain.
 Passion for quality work What best describes your feelings about doing your job well, generally speaking? Passionate, good, so-so, bad, disgusted.
Being recognized or appreciated by management When I perform a task to the best of my ability, my manager gives me: as much supportive and helpful feedback as I need, sometimes helpful feedback but I could use more support, I need a lot more support than I am getting.
Feeling informed and supported For most of my tasks, I feel I receive all the information I need to perform my job well ____ % of the time.
Working with other employees I feel most/nearly all/some/almost none/none of my coworkers communicate with me respectfully.

Employment satisfaction survey questions

Consider these additional employee survey satisfaction questions:

  • Do you feel like your colleagues work as a team?
  • Do you feel our company is open to change?
  • Do you think your work is meaningful and valued?
  • Does your manager ask for your feedback and value it when it’s offered?
  • How well do you think our company communicates news and important information?
  • Do you get the learning and development opportunities you want?
  • Do you feel like work is distributed fairly among your team?
  • Do you feel you have room to grow with the company?
  • Do you feel the company is transparent with employees?
  • Do you get the support and tools you need to do your job well?
  • Would you encourage someone to apply to work for our company?
  • Would you apply for your job with us again if you had to do it all over?
  • Do you feel like you have a good work-life balance at our company?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Do you have fun at work?
  • Do you feel like all of your talents are being used in your position?
  • Do you feel like our expectations of you are clear?
  • When problems arise, how well does the company handle them?
  • Does your job cause you excessive stress?

Following up on job satisfaction survey results

Once you collect and tabulate employee satisfaction survey data, you have valuable information on what is going well and what needs to change to boost workplace satisfaction. The worst thing to do with that data is nothing. Appropriate and timely follow-up helps workers believe that management cares about their needs and shows them that surveys aren’t just for show.

Companies that give workplace satisfaction surveys should be prepared to:

  • Be transparent. Report company-wide results of the surveys to your employees.
  • Plan for meaningful change. In reviewing the data, identify issues and sensible requests for change that would benefit the company overall.
  • Involve employees in making changes. Designate employee committees to give input as the company moves toward making changes.
  • Follow up with more surveys. Once changes are implemented, survey employees again about how they feel about them.

If companies give employees surveys with a sincere desire to evaluate workplace satisfaction and determine what changes will make them happier, employers can be rewarded with increased engagement and productivity. As trust grows, team members are likely to continue to provide honest input that can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Frequently asked questions about employee satisfaction surveys

How do you analyze employee satisfaction survey results?

You can look at the results from the company as a whole and examine different employee groups. You might analyze the results from each department or different levels in the company hierarchy. This helps you spot trends and patterns in the results, such as higher satisfaction in upper management positions than in middle management positions or the general workforce.

What is the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement?

Employee engagement refers to how committed a worker is to helping out the company. Highly engaged employees are motivated to work hard for the organization. High engagement levels often mean an employee is also satisfied with the job. Employee satisfaction means that the worker enjoys the job. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re engaged, though. An employee can enjoy their job and lack the motivation to work hard.

What is a good employee satisfaction score?

Determining good satisfaction survey results depends on your rating system. You generally want more positive scores than negative ones, but it’s unrealistic to expect perfect scores. All companies have room for improvement. If your employees feel comfortable being honest and giving you feedback on their concerns, it means they trust you enough to share. Conduct a job satisfaction survey regularly to compare scores. The initial survey creates your baseline data, and additional surveys show if you’re getting better or worse.

How many questions should I include in an employee satisfaction survey?

Your survey should ask enough questions to get a good picture of employee satisfaction without being so long that employees lose interest. A general guideline is between 30 and 60 questions or a survey that takes no more than 20 to 30 minutes to complete. More important than how many questions you include is the type of questions you ask. They should match your requirements and the information you need. Consider specific areas you know are a concern and focus several questions around those issues.

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