Global HR 13 min

Engagement surveys: importance, questions, and more

Written by Barbara Matthews
June 14, 2024
Barbara Matthews


share to linkedInshare to Twittershare to Facebook
Link copied
to clipboard

How do you know if your employees are truly happy and fulfilled — especially when 77% of the workforce is doing the bare minimum or quietly quitting? 

Engagement surveys help you decode hidden signals and understand what truly motivates your team.

This article covers what you need to know about engagement surveys. We'll explore why engagement surveys are important and which questions to use.

Why are engagement surveys important for a business’s success?

Low employee engagement leads to lower productivity, poor customer service, lower retention, and stifled growth.

Engagement surveys give you the inside scoop on what your employees really think so you can address underlying issues. Happy, satisfied employees are more likely to be invested in the company’s goals and go the extra mile. Satisfied employees are productive and show better performance outcomes.

Moreover, engagement breeds loyalty. When employees feel valued and connected to the company, they’re less likely to leave the company, reducing costly turnover.

Measure employee morale and motivation

Disengaged employees cost companies roughly 18% of their annual salary in lost productivity. That’s a big chunk of money going down the drain because of low morale.

Unmotivated employee with head on desk

But how do you know if your employees are truly motivated and enthusiastic about their work? Engagement surveys help you assess employee sentiment and measure the overall emotional temperature of your workforce.

By identifying dips in morale, you can address underlying issues, implement initiatives to boost motivation, and better manage your workforce.

Gauge employee confidence in the company’s future 

Trust in employers doing right by their employees dropped from 80% in 2022 to 69% in 2024. Engagement surveys offer a direct way to address this uncertainty and uncover how employees view their company’s direction and leadership. 

For example, surveys might reveal worries about potential layoffs or changes in strategy. This information helps you address anxieties promptly and instill confidence in the company’s path forward.

Identify areas for improvement 

Employee surveys are a great way to pinpoint specific pain points to identify the root cause of problems. Workplace issues can include heavy workloads, a lack of growth opportunities, or ineffective communication channels.

Based on employee survey results, focus your improvement efforts on the most impactful areas. This means better use of your resources and a greater chance of boosting employee engagement.

Employee engagement surveys vs. employee feedback surveys 

While both engagement surveys and feedback surveys aim to improve the workplace, they focus on different aspects of the employee experience.

An engagement survey looks at a broader picture, measuring employees’ overall connection to and enthusiasm for the company. With this data, you can determine the overall health of the workplace and identify potential problem areas.

A feedback survey is more targeted, zeroing in on specific issues, changes, or areas for improvement. For instance, a feedback survey might focus on a new company policy or a recent change in workflow.

30 of the best engagement survey questions

Want to know how to get meaningful feedback from your employees? Here are 30 powerful employee engagement survey questions to ask, sorted into six categories.

Satisfaction and alignment

Asking about satisfaction and alignment in an engagement survey reveals the connection between an employee’s role and their overall motivation. 

Satisfied and aligned employees feel a sense of purpose in their work. They understand how their contributions impact the company’s goals and are more likely to be engaged and productive.

Try asking these questions to better understand how fulfilled and aligned your employees feel:

  • To what extent do you feel your work is meaningful and contributes to the company’s goals? 

  • On a scale of 1–5, how satisfied are you with your current role and responsibilities? Please elaborate. 

  • Do you feel you have a clear understanding of the company’s vision and direction? 

  • How equipped do you feel to perform your job effectively?

  • Do you feel that your manager and team value and recognize your contributions?

Engagement and advocacy 

Engaged employees go beyond simply doing their jobs to become advocates for your company. Questions about advocacy in an engagement survey show how likely employees are to promote their workplace to others — which is‌ a good indicator of their overall satisfaction.

Measure employee engagement and their willingness to be company advocates with these questions:

  • Would you recommend our company to your friends and family as a great place to work?

  • On a scale of 1–5, to what extent do you believe in the company’s products or services?

  • How would you describe our company to a friend considering applying for a job here?

  • How likely are you to refer a qualified candidate for a job opening? Please elaborate. 

  • What’s one thing the company could do to make you an even stronger advocate?

Work environment and culture

A positive work environment and healthy company culture are foundational to employee engagement. Engagement surveys give you insights into how employees perceive the atmosphere within your workplace and whether they feel it matches their values. 

To assess how your work environment and culture shape employee experiences, use the following questions in your employee engagement survey:

  • Describe the overall atmosphere of your workplace in three words.

  • Do you feel a sense of belonging and connection to your team? Why or why not?

  • What aspects of our company culture do you value most?

  • How are conflicts or disagreements typically handled within your team? 

  • How well do our company's mission and values align with your own? Give examples.

Well-being and work-life balance 

One of the keys to preventing burnout is making sure your employees have a healthy work-life balance and feel supported by the company. An engagement survey can help you assess how your employees feel their work impacts their overall well-being.

Employee balancing work and life

Ask these questions to determine how well your company supports employee well-being and work-life balance: 

  • Do you feel your workload is manageable? Why or why not?

  • Describe your ideal work-life balance. What does it look like for you? How well does the company support your ability to achieve this balance?

  • Does the company offer flexibility (schedule, remote work, etc.) to support a work-life balance? If yes, how do you use these options?

  • Are you able to disconnect from work outside of office hours? If not, what are the main barriers?

  • What changes could be made to the work environment or company policies that would improve your overall sense of well-being?

Feedback and development

Employees with a growth mindset want to feel supported and challenged. Engagement surveys highlight whether your company is providing the right feedback and development opportunities for employees to reach their full potential.

Try asking these questions to see how your company can better support employee growth:

  • What skills or knowledge would you like to develop to advance your career within the company?

  • How often do you have opportunities to apply the new skills or knowledge that you’ve learned?

  • Do you feel comfortable asking for support or guidance when facing challenges at work? If not, why?

  • How constructive is your manager’s feedback? How well have you been able to implement their feedback in your work?

  • Do you feel the company invests in your professional development? Please provide specific examples.

Remote work and international companies 

If you manage a remote or distributed team, an engagement survey can help you address the unique challenges that come with it.

Questions about remote and international work should address communication and technology issues, potential isolation, and cultural differences. Use these questions for inspiration: 

  • How satisfied are you with the technology and communication tools provided for remote work? What kinds of tools could help you further improve your productivity? 

  • What are the biggest challenges (language barriers, technology issues, time zone differences, etc.) you experience as a remote workforce?

  • Do you have regular opportunities to connect with your team members meaningfully (via virtual meetings and team-building activities)? If so, what’s the most effective way?

  • Do you feel that instructions and expectations are communicated clearly, even when you’re working remotely?

  • What is one thing the company could improve to better support your remote/international work experience?

What are some engagement survey best practices?

The success of an engagement survey is about more than the questions you ask. Here are our best practices to help you get the most out of it.

1. Control your questions

Ask questions that are easy to understand and aren’t ambiguous. Instead of packing multiple questions into one, focus on one issue per question so you don’t miss out on important feedback.

It’s also a good idea to include a mix of question formats, such as multiple-choice, Likert scale, and open-ended methods. This helps you get both measurable data and deeper qualitative answers.

Mix of survey question types

Avoid questions or language that may lead to biased responses. For example, don’t ask, “don’t you love our flexible work policy?” or “what do you dislike about the new reporting system?” Instead, aim for employee engagement questions that encourage honest feedback.

Try to ask questions that:

  • Avoid assumptions: Don't phrase questions as if you already know the answer. It’s better to remain neutral. 

  • Offer opportunities for explanation: Include open-ended questions or follow-up prompts, like "what is the reason you think that way" or "can you provide an example?" 

  • Acknowledge potential issues: If you're probing a sensitive topic, acknowledge that there might be different viewpoints on it.

2. Set a benchmark 

Using a benchmark helps you know what a “good,” “okay,” and “bad” score is for each question.

Research industry benchmarks for engagement metrics. Survey providers like Qualtrics, Culture Amp, and Gallup often publish reports on engagement scores. 

Examples of engagement metrics you can reference include: 

  • Overall engagement score: An average or combination of scores from key questions. 

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): Employees’ willingness to recommend the workplace to others.

  • Retention/turnover rates: The percentage of employees who stay versus leave the company within a specific period.

  • Absenteeism rates: The frequency of unscheduled employee absences.

These metrics help you interpret your results and prevent biased interpretations. They also inform you of how your company compares to others.

3. Maximize employee participation 

There’s no point in an engagement survey if no one participates. So, make it a priority to promote it.

Remember to clearly communicate the survey’s purpose and value to employees instead of just sending out a generic email announcement. Explain how their feedback will be used to create positive change in the company. Employees will be motivated to finish an engagement survey if they believe their feedback is reflected.

Using a user-friendly platform that is accessible on multiple devices also makes it easier for employees to participate. Employees should be able to finish the survey easily, regardless of their location or preferred technology. 

4. Maintain anonymity

If you want your employees to provide honest feedback — especially on ‌sensitive topics — anonymity and confidentiality are key. Your employees should be able to express their opinions openly without fear of being singled out or reprimanded afterward. 

Anonymous employee with engagement survey

Here are two ways to ensure employee anonymity:

  • Use a trusted third-party platform: Create a clear separation between employee responses and the company.

  • Avoid collecting identifying information: Don't ask for data that could reveal identities.

5. Turn data into action 

Once you’ve gathered the results from your survey, it’s time to use that data to create positive change. What were some common themes? Were there any surprising results? 

Also, share key takeaways from the survey with all employees. This shows them that their voices are heard and that their feedback is valued. Be transparent about both positive findings and areas for growth.

Finally, outline planned actions based on employees’ feedback. Focus on actionable changes and be specific about timelines to demonstrate your commitment to improvement.

6. Conduct regular surveys

An engagement survey isn’t a one-time thing — it should be integrated into your company culture.

Conducting surveys on a regular basis helps you track your company’s progress over time. It allows you to measure the impact of the implemented changes and identify new areas for improvement.

Gary Cookson, Director of Epic HR, emphasizes that "the only things that should be annual in an organization are things like Christmas and birthdays. Annual surveys are often not worth it as it's too long in between surveys to make meaningful sense of what they are saying.”  

Only 25% of employers survey their staff at least once a month, 23% quarterly, and 23% every six months. Instead, consider more frequent pulse surveys to get a real-time understanding of employee perceptions.

Common engagement survey FAQs

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about employee engagement surveys.

How do you conduct an employee engagement survey?

You can conduct an effective employee engagement survey in five simple steps.

  1. Choose a method: This could be through an internal survey form or an online platform that provides anonymity and analysis tools.

  2. Design the survey: Include questions that directly measure key aspects of engagement and mix up the types of questions you ask. 

  3. Communicate your purpose: Stress the importance and purpose of your survey and emphasize how the results will be used. 

  4. Distribute and collect: Send out the survey, along with a specific deadline for completing it. 

  5. Analyze your data: Look for patterns, trends, and areas for improvement.

How do you interpret employee engagement survey results?

Focus on these key points to interpret your engagement survey results effectively: 

  • Look for trends: Focus on areas with consistently high or low scores. These are likely your strongest and weakest areas of engagement.

  • Compare benchmarks: Compare your results against industry averages so that you know how your company measures up.

  • Review qualitative data: Read open-ended responses to gain a deeper understanding of what your employees are thinking. 

  • Consider the context: Factor in recent company changes or events that may have influenced the responses and results.

How do you communicate employee engagement survey results?

Transparency is important when you’re communicating employee engagement survey results. Share key findings — both positive and negative — with your employees. You can do this through an internal newsletter or on your messaging platform. 

Also, don't forget to thank your employees for their participation and input!

How do you increase employee engagement survey participation?

Getting your employees to participate in your engagement survey starts with showing them that their voices matter. It’s crucial to explain how you’ll use the results to create positive changes within the company.  

Different ways to incentivize employees

Additionally, guarantee that all responses will remain anonymous, as this encourages honest feedback without fear of consequences. Offering incentives like bonuses, rewards, or even public praise can also motivate employee participation.

Remote helps you build a more engaged workforce

Remote helps you keep your hybrid or distributed workforce engaged.

Remote HR Management keeps your employees connected through a single platform, no matter where they’re located. With Remote, HR professionals can run global payroll, benefits, and cross-border compliance. You can focus on initiatives that build a thriving remote culture, using information from your employee engagement surveys.

Chat with us today to see how Remote can help you build a strong global team.

Start hiring with Remote, the new standard in global HR

Create an account with G2's top-ranked multi-country payroll software and start onboarding your first employees in minutes.

Get started now
Remote is the G2 top-ranked multi-country payroll software

Subscribe to receive the latest
Remote blog posts and updates in your inbox.