Get the Truth of Employee Satisfaction in 15 Questions or Less

October 18, 2016

In most cases your employees will be happy to participate in an employee satisfaction survey. Most particularly if they’ve been assured that their answers will contribute directly to changes in the work environment.

If you can commit to that, you’ll receive an enthusiastic response; but by the same token, you also need to commit to sharing the results of the employee satisfaction survey with the employees.

Why is sharing the results (with each answer or data point being anonymous) so important?

If a reasonably large percentage of employees all suggest a particular change (say 25%) and you implement the change without notice, you may have 75% of your employees who think it’s a terrible idea, and might interpret it as simply a unilateral decision by management.

By sharing the results of the employee satisfaction survey, and your proposed change in order to deal with the suggestion, you can obtain feedback. Taking even the most rudimentary example:

There was no mention in the survey about the soda pop machines in the break rooms, yet 25% of people took the opportunity to say they wanted a different brand of Cola. If you switched suppliers in response, the 75% who were satisfied, and didn’t know they had to “defend their brand” are going to be upset at the unexpected change.

That is precisely the sort of situation that can be avoided when you share results. 

Jumping in with an ill-conceived solution to any problem without consultation can actually make the problem worse. Your people are your experts so let them help you create a solution that will work.

What Contributes to Employee Satisfaction?

It’s not all about the money. Many employees report that a sincere “Thank you for staying late all this week to finish the Johnson account presentation”, especially if said within the earshot of other employees, is worth more than money. Simple things, like rarely handed out coffee mugs for top team members, convey status and cost you next to nothing.

The ability to speak openly with management, and then have them actually listen (even if it is through a suggestion box), helps people feel like they matter. Surveys are particularly effective tools for empowering employees and making them feel valued. Taking note of a particular suggestion at a morning meeting, complimenting it, and then looking for feedback on methods of implementing it, keeps everybody involved.

These are the things that really matter to your employee satisfaction:

  • Employee recognition on a regular basis;
  • Employee empowerment;
  • Perks above the industry average;
  • Compensation above the industry average;
  • Thoughtful, respectful, and considerate treatment.

How to Build an Employee Satisfaction Survey

The temptation might be to ask numerous specific questions and provide space for lengthy written answers. But, brevity really is best.

It is also important to be very explicit about the confidentiality of the employee satisfaction survey. Anonymity makes it more likely that you will get frank and honest feedback, and a higher number of surveys completed.

Limit yourself to 15 questions or less, and the bulk of them ought to be questions designed to be answered with a multiple-choice Likert Scale ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree (or similar).

Sample Employee Satisfaction Questions

Here are some properly constructed example questions from which you can select, and then tune to your own needs.

  1. I am encouraged to come up with new and efficient ways to complete a task
  2. The company keeps employees well-informed about those things that will affect us
  3. My job effectively uses my strengths and abilities
  4. Managers and Supervisors have a clear commitment to maintaining high quality standards
  5. I understand the company’s goals and the link between my work and these objectives
  6. I feel involved with decisions that will affect me directly at work
  7. All things considered, I am satisfied with my job
  8. I am satisfied with my prospects for advancement in the company
  9. When a customer is dissatisfied I have the flexibility and latitude to help them resolve their problem
  10. On the job my responsibilities and goals are clearly defined
  11. I have the resources, support, and tools to accomplish all of my tasks in an efficient manner
  12. The work I do gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment
  13. Employee safety is a high priority/My workplace is safe
  14. I would feel comfortable recommending this company for employment to a friend
  15. My supervisor or manager provides useful and constructive feedback
  16. My supervisor or manager acknowledges me with praise and recognition for exceptional effort
  17. Teamwork/cooperation is valued in this organization
  18. I don’t take my job home with me. I have a good work/life balance
  19. My supervisor or manager treats all employees fairly and consistently
  20. My work contributes directly to the success of this organization
  21. My fellow workers treat me respectfully
  22. Job performance is measured to ensure all staff are achieving the expected results
  23. I can respectfully disagree with my supervisor without fear of reprisals
  24. Management has genuine interest in receiving, reviewing, and integrating opinions & ideas from employees
  25. I feel proud to tell people that I work within this organization

Going Beyond Likert with Open Text Questions

Typically these should also be open ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no…

  1. What I love about ACME Inc. is:
  2. ACME Inc. could do a much better job if they:
  3. ACME Inc. could make this a happier/more productive/more efficient/more desirable workplace if they:
  4. What sort of tools or resources could ACME Inc. provide to help you be more successful at your job?
  5. If you have previously completed one of these surveys, what improvements (or declines) have you noticed since the last survey?

Open text analysis tools will help you organize and quantify open ended questions like these.

How Often Should I Survey Employees to Measure Employee Satisfaction?      

Did some of these examples questions sound a little scary to you? In truth, you do need to ask those sorts of questions if you want to truly understand your level of Employee Satisfaction and Engagement.

We would also generally recommend that you include a question or two which allows employees to provide some written details. In an ideal world managers and supervisors would enthusiastically embrace discussions with the employees about ways to improve; in reality we know that this situation does not always prevail.

Big Takeaways for Your Business’ Employee Satisfaction

Each answer when taken in total, will help you gauge your overall employee satisfaction. Survey your employees once or twice a year (but probably not more often than that) to keep your finger on the pulse of your company and address any points of tension before they become full blown problems.

There are distinct advantages to having a professionally prepared Employee Satisfaction & Engagement Survey. Get started now with a pre-built template from Alchemer. We’ve included neutral questions that will not skew the answers, and you have full control over editing those questions to suit your business’s unique needs.

Looking to improve your processes across your HR department (and beyond)? See how surveys can help here.

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