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Do you know if your employees actually like working at your company? Do you know if they truly enjoy and are engaged in their jobs? Or are you simply guessing and hoping that they’re happy?

Assuming your employees are satisfied isn’t an effective way to run your business. If you don’t know where problems lie - or where you’re doing well - you will miss out on a valuable chance to make improvements.

And the best way of finding out the answers to these important questions is by creating an employee satisfaction survey.

How and why should you run an employee satisfaction survey? And what questions should you be asking in it to get the most honest and open feedback?

We’ll discuss all of that in this guide to employee satisfaction surveys - read on for all you need to know!

What is an employee satisfaction survey?

Employee satisfaction surveys are surveys designed to determine how happy or unhappy your employees are at your company and in their jobs. 

Asking employees directly and regularly for feedback is the best way to get this information - if you don’t ask, they won’t tell you. The process of employee satisfaction surveys is meant to fix this gap.

You send out an anonymous survey to all your employees regularly - it could be every month, every quarter, or every year - and ask them what is going well and what could be improved.

There are many different ways to set up your employee satisfaction survey. Some organizations do frequent, short pulse surveys to gauge opinions throughout the year.

Many employers do one big, comprehensive survey once per year. Some combine these two methods. It’s really about what works best for your company and employees.

Why should you run employee satisfaction surveys?

It’s easy for leaders and managers to assume that employees are satisfied at work. After all, you’re offering them a good job and decent pay and benefits. It sounds like it should be enough.

But it’s challenging for higher-level people to know what most employees like and dislike about their jobs. There could be many factors you don’t know about that contribute to their dissatisfaction or things you think of as minor factors that cause great employee happiness.

Guessing or assuming won’t get you those answers. But a well-designed employee survey will. And asking about employee satisfaction isn’t just a feel-good exercise.

Having happy and engaged employees has massive benefits for your business.

According to research from the University of Warwick, happy employees are more likely to be productive and engaged - 12% more productive

That can be the difference between having a year of regular business results and exceeding all expectations.

Sample employee satisfaction survey questions

Now that you know what employee satisfaction surveys are, why they’re vital to your business's success, and what factors truly make employees satisfied, you can begin to think about creating your own employee satisfaction survey.

You can find plenty of employee satisfaction survey question samples: SHRM has a valuable template for creating your own survey. The Gallup 12-question framework is also popular for many businesses to measure engagement and satisfaction.

You can opt to work with a system that creates a survey for you, like Empuls, if you’re looking for a complete employee engagement solution.

Looking for more guidance about great employee satisfaction survey questions? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

1. Are you inspired by the mission and purpose of our company?

Employees enjoy working somewhere with strong values and a clear mission, whether that’s doing good in the world or serving customers with excellence and integrity.

36% of employees say their company's reputation is critical when thinking about the palace they’d like to work for. 

So how is your company measuring up?

2. Do you see a path to advance and grow your career with us?

Even if employees enjoy working at your company, they won’t stay satisfied if they don’t see a long-term growth path there. According to research from Deloitte, they will then leave - lack of career development opportunities is the top reason your employees leave to work for another company. So measuring how you’re doing in this area is very valuable.

3. Do you like our company culture?

Maybe you’ve worked hard to shape a conscious, clear culture in your workplace - or maybe you aren’t sure where to start.

Only 12% of companies understand their own work culture, so you’re not alone.

Asking employees if they enjoy your workplace culture is good to start creating a healthy, happy workforce.

4. Do you find your work meaningful?

We all want to do work that isn’t just checking off boxes on a to-do list - it has real meaning. Your employees will all have different definitions of meaning in their work, but asking them if they feel their work matters in some way is a good way to measure engagement and happiness.

In fact, the ability to do meaningful work is so vital to employees that 9 out of 10 people surveyed by researchers would take a significant pay cut to do work that matters more to them.

5. How would you rate your work-life balance?

Work-life balance is vital for having happy, productive employees. Burnout from not having enough time off or working long hours all the time drives down satisfaction. 53% of employees say work-life balance is critical to them.

You might have a generous vacation policy, but how much does your company culture and management encourage taking that time off?

6. Does our company give you the tools and technology to do your job well?

If you have employees who love their jobs and are great at them but don’t give them the essential tools they need to do those jobs, they will be frustrated and unhappy. This can be a lack of up-to-date software or computers or other items they need to get their jobs done.

7. How happy are you at work?

If you want to know if your employees are happy at work, ask them if they’re happy! It’s simple but effective to ask directly about their satisfaction levels.

8. Do you feel valued for your contributions?

Recognizing and appreciating the contributions your employees make to your company every day seems so basic - but so many leaders and managers fail to make it a priority.

Use this question to check how your culture treats employee recognition and if employees feel like their work is actually valued. If not, you have work to do.

How to keep employees satisfied at work?

These are just a few sample questions you can include in your employee satisfaction survey. It would be best if you prioritized asking questions that link to business goals or areas you’re trying to improve.

What areas are important to focus on?

Here are the main categories that contribute to employee satisfaction:

1. Culture

The culture of your workplace is vital to employee happiness. Have you created an environment full of competitiveness, stress, and overwork? Or are you on the way to a culture where employees feel secure, valued, and challenged to grow?

Your workplace culture might have a clear guiding mission, or it might be composed of unstated norms. But you certainly have one - so work to make sure it’s a positive one.

2. Coworkers

Do you have a best friend at work? Your employees might - and that’s a great thing. It leads to twice the engagement level if you do. If you think about it, we spend more time with our coworkers than most other people in our lives.

So it makes sense that having coworkers that you trust, like, and respect is critical to employee happiness. Are you hiring people who create that positive environment?

3. Relationship with manager

Managers have a significant impact on the employee experience's vital parts - the kind of work employees get to do, their career path, and their day-to-day experience at work.

Dissatisfaction with managers is a top reason why employees leave your company - in fact, 22% of employees said it was the top reason they’re looking for a new job.

4. Autonomy

When you hire the best people, you want to trust them to do their jobs well. Micromanaging is frustrating for employees, especially for your top performers who are great at their jobs.

Are you allowing employees to have autonomy and ownership over their work? That leads to greater satisfaction and happiness.

Creating an effective employee satisfaction survey

Asking your employees how happy they are in their jobs at your company is a great idea. It can help you and other leaders decide what areas of the employee experience should prioritize going forward.

If you’re looking for a way to help you build a happy, engaged workforce and measure your results with surveys at every part of the employee lifecycle, check out Empuls.

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Kathleen O'Donnell

Kathleen O'Donnell LinkedIn

Kathleen is a freelance writer and employee communications and culture expert, with 6+ years of experience in corporate internal communications.