Organizational Wellness

13 Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions to Ask Your Employees

Nov 22, 2023
Last Updated Nov 22, 2023

As an HR leader, you’ve probably heard of all the benefits of gathering and acting on employee feedback in the workplace. However, a 2022 study by JobSage showed that approximately 3 out of 5 employees are hesitant to reveal their actual thoughts and opinions in the workplace, often out of fear of managerial reprisal or other negative impacts on their careers. 

If you don’t know how your people actually feel about your workplace, how can you improve it? Aside from reading their minds (which probably violates all kinds of privacy laws these days), HR leaders have another powerful tool at their disposal to help gauge how their employees really feel: employee satisfaction surveys.

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What is an employee satisfaction survey? 

An employee satisfaction survey is a census tool that allows employees to share their opinions and experiences about how satisfied they are with specific areas of their jobs. Generally, an employee satisfaction survey will ask employees questions to gather feedback about the company culture, growth and learning opportunities, compensation and benefits, and more.

Employee satisfaction surveys are more than just walking up and asking everyone how they’re doing. After all, how employees feel about their work doesn’t always match up with what employees say they feel about their work. Employees may not be comfortable telling a boss exactly what they think face-to-face. As such, an effective employee satisfaction survey exists to provide an honest and anonymous outlet for employees to be completely authentic in their feedback.

Employee satisfaction surveys can help companies quantify employee feedback that allows them to: 

  • Identify recurring issues among employees and work to address them
  • Monitor employee satisfaction trends over time
  • Encourage open communication
  • Anticipate turnover
  • Increase employee retention rates

An employee satisfaction survey can also be referred to as a job satisfaction survey, employee morale survey, employee opinion survey, etc. But no matter what you call it, it functions as a valuable communication tool that alleviates many of the hurdles to employee authenticity.

Why measure employee satisfaction? 

That’s a good question: Why would we want to know how happy our employees are?

Employee satisfaction impacts more than how much your people smile wistfully as they perform their tasks. Higher satisfaction directly translates into improved returns because there’s usually a strong connection between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. In fact, Oxford University's Saïd Business School reports that satisfied workers are 13% more productive.

Satisfied employees also stay with the company, which means that satisfaction plays a major role in employee retention. And, wouldn’t you know it? Employee satisfaction not only keeps people with the organization; it also keeps them at their desks by significantly reducing absenteeism

Furthermore, when employees are happy, they don’t generally keep it to themselves; they share the love, improving your organization’s reputation for a positive, satisfying company culture. In a 2023 survey from Blake Oliver Consulting, 61% of professional respondents identified company culture/reputation as the factor that they most look for in a company — more than twice the amount who chose salary. Suffice it to say that when your employees are happy, then so is your business. 

Employee Satisfaction Survey Best Practices

So, to recap: Employee satisfaction matters and the right survey can help you figure it out. But where things can get difficult is knowing what, exactly, the right survey looks like and how to deploy it. 

How you approach topics, the tone of the survey, how the questions are phrased, and whether there are any implied biases can all skew the results. Here are steps you can take to ensure you receive honest, actionable feedback.

  1. Ask for More Details

Sometimes choosing between pre-supplied responses just doesn’t tell the whole story. Provide employees with a space where they can elaborate. This will help you better understand their perspective, identify possible problem areas, and see if the people closest to the issue have any additional insights.

  1. Avoid Yes/No Questions

Professional environments tend to drill into employees that they should be agreeable. This can be a good thing when you’re dealing with conflicting personalities, but it’s not always a good thing when you’re trying to get employee feedback. Employee acquiescence (the tendency to say ‘yes’) can bleed over into satisfaction surveys, particularly when the only options available are ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Give a range of responses for the employee to choose from–such as strongly agree, agree, somewhat agree, etc.–and they’ll be more likely to tell you what they really think. 

  1. Avoid ‘Double-Direct’ Questions

Also known as "double-barrel” questions, a double-direct is when you ask a single question that allows for only one response, but that touches on two separate issues. For example, if your survey were to ask “How do you feel about the company culture and benefits?” it would really be asking two different questions — one about culture, and the other about benefits… and one response may not cover both opinions. 

  1. Be Consistent About Sending Them Out

There seems to be an unspoken understanding in many business circles that as long as you’re sending out your employee satisfaction surveys at least every 12 months, you’re doing your part. But a once-per-year survey means you only get to course-correct once per year. Adopting a more-regular cadence, such as through smaller, weekly pulse surveys, can help you understand how your people feel right now (instead of several months ago).

  1. Be Clear and Direct

Keep things simple. Don’t throw off the meaning with confusing jargon or unnecessary details. Ask your people in clear terms how they feel about specific aspects or situations, and you won’t have to worry about them missing the meaning. 

  1. Focus on Areas You Can Change

Your survey questions should stick to subjects that you and other decision-makers can directly influence. Don’t ask for opinions on situations you can’t change, or you’ll just disappoint your people. Responses need to be actionable to be valuable.

  1. Keep Questions Neutral

Don’t let biases seep into your survey, and don’t include questions that lead employees in one direction or another. Again, you’re not trying to force some sort of consensus here; you’re trying to get a clear picture of employee satisfaction. If you include questions like “What do you think is the best part about our new attendance policy?” you’ll be excluding those opinions that think the new attendance policy is crap. Keeping questions neutral also means allowing for neutral answers, because come on, not everyone has a strong opinion about everything. 

  1. Make Questions Optional

It can be hard to accept, but if an employee isn’t interested in sharing an opinion, then they’re not going to share it. Survey questions should be optional. Otherwise, employees will just tell you what they think you want to hear so they can get on with their lives.

  1. Test It Out Before You Send It Out

It never hurts to do a test run. Circulate the survey with trusted colleagues before you deploy it so they can help you revise it into its best possible form.

  1. ALWAYS Keep It Confidential and Anonymous

A lack of confidentiality hurts authenticity and can lead to bad blood or strained relationships between everyone involved. Make sure your surveys are administered in a way that is completely detached from respondents’ names and job functions, and make doubly sure that your employees know it. 

13 Sample Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions to Consider

At the end of the day, the form your survey takes and the questions it asks will depend on the needs and values of your business. Here are a few questions you might consider asking when crafting the perfect employee satisfaction survey to administer to your employees.

Questions about Career Development

  • Do you feel that your job allows you to develop new skills?
  • Do you feel you have room to grow with the company and advance your career?
  • Do you get the learning and development opportunities you want?

Questions about Company Culture

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • How well is important information communicated to employees?
  • Do you feel the company is open to change?

Questions about Compensation and Benefits

  • How well do you feel the company supports employee wellness and mental health?
  • How often does your job cause you excessive stress?
  • Do you feel your benefits package is competitive?

Questions about Workplace Relationships

  • Does your direct manager value your opinions?
  • Do you feel like your colleagues work as a team?
  • Do you feel like work is distributed fairly among your team?
  • Do you have a connection to your coworkers?

Again, when it comes to employee satisfaction surveys, the sky is the limit. Just be sure to ask your people the kinds of questions you want answers to and that you can use to inform positive action.

Next Steps for Improving Employee Satisfaction

Once you collect employee satisfaction survey data, it’s time to act on it! Look for trends and highlight key phrases in the open-ended responses that indicate recurring concerns. You may even need to send a quick follow-up survey if you need additional information or clarification.  

Next, make a list of initiatives that will make the most impact for your employees. For example, if employees shared concerns about your company culture, make a plan to clearly define and communicate the goals and objectives of your organization. Revisiting your onboarding process or company communication practices can all help your employees catch your vision and be prepared and inspired in their work.

Similarly, if employees share concerns about their wellbeing, investing in the right wellness program can prove to your employees that their physical, emotional, and mental health matters to you. 

Conclusion

Employee satisfaction surveys allow you to peel back the curtain on employee opinions, so you can better align your business to promote a more satisfied (and loyal, and productive, and capable, and connected) workforce.

If you are ready to improve employee satisfaction and engagement at your workplace, Gympass is ready to help. We will provide you with more information and resources on how to create a wellness program that will help your employees stay healthy and let them know that you care. Contact a Gympass Wellness Specialist today! 

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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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