Posted by Dave • August 11, 2020 (Last modified June 22, 2021) • 13 min read
Today’s leaders understand that productive employees will only take their organizations so far. It’s the employees who are productive and happy who go above and beyond. The act of doing their jobs is fulfilling so they continue to deliver outstanding results, day-after-day.
In the simplest terms, employee engagement is achieved when team members check both the happiness and productivity boxes. However, it’s easy in theory, difficult in practice. Not only does everyone have a unique experience at work. New challenges emerge all the time that can shake the resolve of even the most focused employee. And few people feel comfortable speaking out about the problems hindering their productivity and happiness.
It is up to HR and organizational leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of engagement across the workforce. That can be accomplished by regularly surveying employees and asking them how they’re feeling. Engagement surveys give everyone a platform to share their thoughts, resulting in a wealth of data that can be used to improve the employee experience.
In this blog post, you’ll learn what questions you can ask on employee surveys to gain practical, actionable insights into engagement across your organization.
We’ve already established that productivity and happiness equate to employee engagement. But before we get into the process of building surveys, let’s first explore the three pillars of employee engagement—mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Once you understand each, you’ll be able to see the value in the different example questions we share.
People enjoy doing work they have an aptitude for. We like taking on challenges that excite us and can be solved using our personal skills and knowledge. We also appreciate our jobs when we feel like we’re growing and gradually improving at our specializations.
Employees give their all when they’re trusted to take their own approach. There are always certain results they’ll need to deliver and processes they’ll need to follow but professionals value the freedom to come up with their own ideas and work with little oversight.
Everyone wants to do meaningful work. When an employee sees their effort really does lead to organizational success, they feel good about themselves and continually give their best effort.
The combination of mastery, autonomy, and purpose unlock employee engagement. At first, these three tenants may seem too theoretical. You might be thinking you can do everything in your power to create a positive work environment but there are always going to be employees who don’t feel completely satisfied with their jobs.
The key is to ask pragmatic survey questions based on employee engagement drivers. Allow employees to respond anonymously so you capture their authentic thoughts and feelings. Then analyze survey results and determine what changes your organization needs to make to boost employee engagement.
Your employee engagement surveys should first and foremost cover the basics. Here are three questions you can start with to get an initial insight into engagement in your workforce.
Do you have access to the tools and resources to do your job well?
An employee cannot truly master their job until they’re given everything they need to succeed. This question will help you learn if employees are well-equipped to produce meaningful work.
Do you feel empowered to make decisions regarding your work?
Ensure your managers trust their team members and allow them to act on their ideas. If you bring on talented people and allow them to work autonomously, you’ll have a team of high-performing, happy employees.
Do you understand how your work contributes to the goals of the company?
Every employee deserves to see the fruits of their labor. If you find employees don’t know how their work impacts their team or the organization, it might mean they don’t have clearly-defined role objectives they’re striving to achieve.
Like any team, organizations are successful when people come together and support each other. Effective collaboration is a key component to employee engagement so consider including the following questions on your engagement surveys.
Do you feel comfortable openly sharing your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas?
Every employee, regardless of their position on the org chart, should feel comfortable contributing to discussions in the workplace. Everyone involved in collaborative projects brings unique skills and knowledge to the table and should be welcomed to participate in strategic planning.
Do you and your team members hold yourselves and each other accountable for results?
The employees who make up a team are all working toward a common goal. It’s crucial everyone consistently gives their best effort and collectively stays focused on long-term objectives.
Are your team’s efforts and achievements recognized in a timely and meaningful manner?
Positive recognition goes a long way in keeping employees motivated. Ensure your employees feel that their team’s wins are acknowledged by organizational leaders so everyone is excited going into their next big project.
Now let’s transition for team effectiveness to exploring engagement on an individual level. The questions listed below will help you learn if employees feel they’re in a position to do outstanding work and reap the personal benefits that come from it.
Are you able to utilize and develop your full range of skills, expertise, and experience?
An employee is able to master their role-specific tasks when they’re empowered to use all their talents. You never want to hold a great employee back so make sure they’re able to use everything in their toolbox.
Do you have the freedom to choose tasks that will help you reach your goals?
This question gets right to the heart of the autonomy aspect of engagement. Discover if your leaders are setting appropriate objectives for their direct reports—and trusting them to develop their own strategy for accomplishing them.
Do you believe there is a clear path for development at the company?
Everyone hopes that the hard work they do today will result in career advancement down the road. Your organization won’t be able to promote every successful employee but they should at least feel like they’re acquiring new skills and gaining valuable experience.
Employees are consistently engaged when they believe the organization is heading in the right direction. Here are a few questions that will help you learn if your leaders have shared a clear strategy with your staff and talked to each employee about the role they’ll play in it.
Are you confident the company is moving in the right direction?
Get right to it and find out if your employees believe in the big goals everyone is striving for. This is a heavy question but you cannot truly achieve organizational-wide engagement until every team member buys into the mission.
Do you feel company leadership welcomes questions and concerns?
If you want employees to commit to long-term plans, leaders need to be receptive to what is on their minds. Employees should feel comfortable asking for clarification or voicing reasonable concerns about departmental or organizational strategy.
Do you feel company leaders communicate a vision that motivates you?
Engaged employees understand the purpose of the work. Leaders should always present a strategy that includes goals for every employee so they get excited to do work that truly matters.
An employee’s job satisfaction is heavily influenced by the relationship they have with their manager. These questions will help you learn if employees believe their bosses put them in a position to be successful:
Does your manager set clear expectations and optimal challenges and provide timely and actionable feedback?
In order for an employee to master their job, they need to know exactly what they’re expected to achieve. They should also be challenged at work and receive guidance from their manager that helps them deliver the greatest possible results.
Does your manager allow you to work free of “micromanagement” (getting involved in details that should be handled at other levels)?
Micromanagement is the antithesis of autonomy. Managers should assign tasks and share feedback but trust their direct reports will properly act on the direction they receive.
Does your manager know what matters to you and how to best support you?
Every employee has their own temperament and approach to work. Managers should form a bond with the people they oversee and tailor their leadership approach to each direct report’s personality.
A lot of organizations talk about culture but many struggle to truly create a transparent and supportive work environment. Here are a few questions that will help you learn if your leadership team needs to do a better job making the culture defined on paper a reality:
Does company leadership share an appropriate amount of information and knowledge to enable you to make decisions about your work?
We’ve touched on this theme in other questions but it’s worth noting again. Mastery stems from understanding so ensure employees know what the organization’s mission is so they can produce impactful results.
Are there avenues for you to explore new ideas and collaborate with teams at work?
Employees become disengaged when they’re prevented from acting on their great ideas. Ensure employees can experiment with different strategies and are able to work cross-functionally with other departments.
Do you believe company leadership contributes to an open and trusting environment?
The people at the top of the organization set the tone for the employees who look up to them. People will grow to love their jobs when they see senior employees leading with kindness and compassion.
Employee engagement surveys are great for learning how your employees are feeling, in general. You get a bird’s eye view of happiness and productivity across the entire workforce so you can identify major areas of strengths and weaknesses.
However, engagement surveys are only part of the equation. You should also ask questions unique to your organization and strive to measure engagement down to the individual employee level. And once surveys are complete, you need to act on the results you gathered. We’ll conclude with a few bonus tips for measuring and improving employee engagement.
You’ve sent your engagement survey and now the responses are rolling in. You’ll likely see some trends immediately but don’t arrive at any major takeaways until you’ve analyzed the data collected. Here are a few tips for learning from your survey results:
The example questions shared in this blog post are applicable to any organization. They are a great starting point for learning about mastery, autonomy, and purpose in the typical job experience.
However, every organization has unique factors that influence employee engagement. For example, changes to the leadership team or organizational structure may leave some employees wondering how they’ll be impacted. But even something as small as introducing a new employee benefit can affect engagement.
Always take the time to create a quick ad-hoc survey whenever you’re curious how employees feel about a certain topic. You can ask them to rate their satisfaction on a numerical scale and provide any additional thoughts that are on their mind. You’ll come away understanding if your organization took the right approach to implementing changes that influence the employee experience.
Organizational-wide engagement surveys are an excellent way to get broad insight into employee productivity and happiness.
That said, every employee has a completely different experience at work. Every role has different challenges and every person deals with them in their own way. You might assume it’s not possible to respond to every employee’s concerns. However, these issues can be resolved in check-in meetings between employees and managers—provided the discussion goes beyond what the person is currently working on.
Asking individual team members to complete a short survey before their check-in meetings helps managers know what topics need to be discussed. The following questions get to the root of employee engagement on the individual-level:
Like the other engagement survey questions, these questions focused on mastery, autonomy, and purpose. They ensure employees have meaningful conversations with their managers so they leave check-ins feeling good and ready to work.
The results of an engagement survey are ultimately meaningless if your organization doesn’t act on them. Even more, employees will wonder why they were asked to provide their thoughts if the leadership team wasn’t going to do anything with them.
After survey data has been analyzed, the next step is to develop a strategy for improving employee engagement. For example, if you learn leadership hasn’t properly communicated the organization’s direction, the solution could be as simple as hosting more all-hands meetings. You might also find that too many employees don’t feel they have the opportunity to share their thoughts, which could mean managers need to be trained on how to create open lines of communication.
Once you have a plan for boosting engagement, share it with your team. Get everyone together and present the survey results, major takeaway, and the organization’s strategy going forward. By simply communicating the organization’s commitment to do better, employees will feel good about their work situation because they know you have their best interests at heart.
Trakstar is well-known for our performance management software. We also offer an employee engagement module for conducting different types of surveys and analyzing the results. Let’s take a look at what it includes:
Trakstar includes multiple pre-built surveys that are automatically emailed to your employees each month. Questions are informed by research to ensure you truly tap into mastery, autonomy, and purpose. And automated email reminders encourage employees to participate. Learn more about Trakstar Pulse Surveys.
Request employees complete a short survey in Trakstar prior to check-in meetings with their manager. Answers are shared with their manager so both parties go into the conversation knowing if there are any problems that need to be addressed. Learn more about Trakstar Performance Check-Ins.
Build and send custom surveys whenever you please, consisting of any question that is relevant to your workplace. Include your preferred rating scale and the option for respondents to provide comments. Learn more about Trakstar Employee Surveys.
All of your survey responses are collected in Trakstar and presented in real-time interactive dashboards. Trakstar Engagement Reporting makes it easy to drill into your results and filter your data by time period or group.
If you want to learn more about how Trakstar can help boost employee happiness and productivity, request a live demo today!