Problems with Standard Employee Engagement Survey Questions

Employee Engagement Survey Questions

The usual employee engagement survey questions provide a number of problems. What many presume to be the right questions may not be right for your company or employees.

Problems with Standard Employee Engagement Survey Questions

The three biggest problems with the standard employee engagement survey questions come from companies who perform staff surveys internally. Though, more problems have arisen from the idea that one-size-fits-all. This is not the case and can cost companies more resources rather than less.

Internal Employee Surveys

To cut costs organisations may choose to have their employee surveys written internally. Established psychometric surveys, however, use experts and their experience to ensure that the results are as valid as possible.

Employees may not be as candid if they know the questionnaire is in-house. They may be less truthful for fear of repercussions from their answers. This is particularly true for more in-depth staff questionnaires like engagement surveys.

Therefore, the use of a third-party ensures more truthful answers and valid data. They can also provide communications in order to placate any concerns from employees.

In the long run, this will create more buy-in to a company’s staff surveys as employees will feel more comfortable with participating. Furthermore the organisation’s investment of resources will be put to better use as more benefits will come from the best data.

Talent Management also points out that the way questions are phrased is an important issue. Experts are aware of how to prevent misinterpretation, inconsistencies and a lack of completeness. They know how to target questions for each company’s specific goals and concerns.

Staff Survey Questions and Wording

Research from Melcrum showed that these are the top ten staff survey questions that employers believe will yield the most helpful results:

Employee Engagement Survey Questions

(Image from Melcrum)

Organisational communications expert, Angela Sinickas, however, believes these questions are too open. She recommends questions more like:

1. How do you feel about coming to work each morning?
2. What things have your managers done over the years to inspire you? What have other managers done that were demotivating?
4. What words would you use to describe how you feel about coming to work?

She also recommends offering a scale for each questions, as many employee surveys do. For example questions one may use, “Almost all the time, Usually, About half the time, Sometimes, Almost never.”

Whereas other questions need to be written as statements to prevent yes/no answers. Instead employees could be given a 1-10 scale and respond accordingly.

2. My immediate manager inspires me.
5. I feel proud to tell people where I work.
6. I have the tools I need to do my job effectively.
7. I have enough opportunities to contribute to decisions that affect me.
8. I understand how my role contributes to achieving business outcomes.
9. I trust the information I receive from my immediate manager.
10. My manager values the work I do.

All these questions further exemplify the knowledge and skills that experts lend to employee engagement surveys. Experts in the field understand how to make questions quantifiable and useful.

It also shows how easily the right questions can be asked in the wrong way. Too many qualitative answers will slow follow-up action and could confuse the situation further. This could happen by management taking answers personally, over or under estimating results and eventually decreasing the effect of follow-up action by taking too long.

Whilst it is important to collect opinions when conducting an engagement survey, you also need quantitative data. Staff surveys need to be reacted to quickly after they have been completed.

This encourages employees that their participation has yielded results and will encourage buy-in in the future. One way to do this is through feedback, ‘quick wins’ and other follow-up actions.

Does it Matter?

One small but essential point that can be overlooked with employee engagement survey questions is ‘does it matter?’ Unfortunately it is, all too often, forgotten.

You may think that an issue is important to the happiness of employees but each company is different. To give an obvious example: ‘Is the boss a visible presence?’ The answer may be ‘no’ but it might not matter.

If your company is based over different locations then employees won’t expect to see their employer. Investing time and energy into making someone more visible would be the wrong move because the likelihood is that this issue does not affect employees in such a company. Yet, this exact thing has been known to happen.

It’s important to consider this issue for every staff survey question. You could simply ask ‘do you care?’ at the end of each. Though, great{with}talent has worked hard to provide engagement surveys that look deeper. They conduct anonymous engagement surveys and find the issues that matter to your employees then feedback to you.

Contact great{with}talent and find out more about their TalentEngage employee engagement surveys.


(Main image from Mustard Research)

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