As many employees continue to work remotely and the modern workplace transitions to a hybrid environment, measuring employee job satisfaction becomes increasingly difficult. Previously, the physical proximity of working in an office brought teams closer together and allowed employees to feel connected to the company mission, while better understanding their role’s impact on overall company success. Now, with a distributed or hybrid workforce, it’s harder to recreate that sense of community and mission, which can leave a lasting negative impact on employee satisfaction.
A year characterized by so much loss and change — 2020 — has reminded us that not every employee can be engaged at work 100% of the time. But, while your company probably conducts regular or annual surveys on employee engagement, you might not be measuring employee satisfaction as often or as accurately as you should. This important HR metric can help you identify when employee morale is slipping, so you can create meaningful initiatives to improve the employee experience and drive engagement.
The key to creating an effective employee satisfaction survey lies in asking the right questions. To give you the tools you need to build a survey that helps you reach your HR and People goals, we’ve outlined what employee satisfaction is and how to measure it, along with some sample questions to help you create the most effective satisfaction survey possible.
Employee Engagement vs. Employee Satisfaction
While employee engagement and employee satisfaction are sometimes used interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two terms:
- Employee engagement measures the extent to which an individual loves their job. An engaged employee is more productive, motivated, passionate, and willing to go the extra mile to ensure the business succeeds.
- Employee satisfaction, on the other hand, is when an individual is content with their job, pay, and benefits. Sure, they show up for work, but you typically won’t find these employees volunteering for new projects or staying at the office past 5PM.
“Employee satisfaction refers to the state when an employee enjoys the job they do, without being necessarily engaged with it. They are simply content with their pay, and that they can finish work earlier on Friday, for instance,” explained Magda Klimkiewicz, HR business partner at Zety, a career site offering job seekers resume-building tools and job-search advice.
While an engaged employee might be more valuable to your company, you can’t ignore the needs of satisfied employees. After all, with the right support, a satisfied employee can easily become an engaged employee.
Why Is Employee Satisfaction Important?
As an HR team, you want to get to the bottom of why your employees are satisfied but not engaged. Once you identify what factors are blocking your team from being more engaged at work — ineffective management, lack of recognition, or poor work-life balance, for example — you can take action to improve the employee experience at your organization.
When you build a work environment where every team member feels seen, heard, valued, and recognized, you can improve engagement. And, improving your engagement scores is in your company’s best interest.
“Engaged employees are deeply involved and invested in their work, continually thinking about how to make a tangible impact on your company’s bottom line,” said Klimkiewics. “That leads to higher retention rates, [and] improved productivity, innovation, and quality of work.”
Another reason it’s important to keep an eye on employee satisfaction levels within your organization is that low satisfaction might mean your employees are more open to new employment opportunities elsewhere. When employees are satisfied with their jobs, they’re more likely to stay put, so your company can benefit from higher employee retention.
“Employee satisfaction provides the foundation for employee engagement,” said Cathleen Snyder, SPHR, CIR, SHRM-SCP, Director of HR and Development at Ohio-based Human Resources management firm strategic HR inc. “If an employee likes their job, it's easier to build on that satisfaction to achieve engagement. Measuring employee satisfaction can help to define the path to the greater impact that employee engagement brings.”
A survey can help you identify the factors keeping satisfied workers from becoming engaged employees so you can remove those barriers, improve the employee experience, and help your team have more fulfilling careers at your company.
What Can You Measure With an Employee Satisfaction Survey?
Employee satisfaction surveys help you collect qualitative and quantitative insights about employee experience at your company. They empower you to be more proactive, helping you find opportunities and fix problems before they become larger organizational issues.
These surveys can measure employee satisfaction at three key levels: individual, interpersonal (or departmental), and organizational.
The goal of any employee satisfaction survey is to learn if an employee likes working at your company. At the most basic level, you want to know if your employee enjoys their job. If they’re understimulated, overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, or just feeling stuck in their careers, they might become disengaged at work or be tempted to look elsewhere for a more fulfilling career. Including job-specific questions in your employee satisfaction survey can help you better understand if an employee enjoys their job, or if their day-to-day role leaves much to be desired.
As the old adage goes, “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” You’ll want to include some questions in your satisfaction survey around managerial involvement, communication, and support to understand if poor management could be holding employees back from being more engaged.
In addition to management questions, you’ll also want to get a pulse on an employee’s team dynamic. As employees continue to work remotely, and even as businesses transition to a hybrid work environment, it’s easy to feel cut off from team members or left out of the loop. Including questions about team relationships, respect, employee recognition, communication, and inclusivity can help you paint a more holistic picture of the employee experience at your organization.
Lastly, you’ll want to know how your overall company experience impacts employee satisfaction. Are employees happy with their benefits? Do they feel connected to your company culture? Can they see their career growing with your organization? While change at the organizational level is more difficult and time-consuming to implement, it can also be the most rewarding. Employee satisfaction survey feedback can help you discover your workforce’s concerns and take action to keep everybody happy at work.
While it’s helpful to think of your employee satisfaction survey questions in these categories, don’t feel your survey needs to represent all three. Your survey is unique to your organization and can include whatever questions will best inform or help prioritize your Human Resources decisions.
“The questions we ask depend on what is going on in the organization, [and] if we are considering implementing policy changes or new programs,” said Melodie Bond-Hillman, PhD, Director of HR and Administration at XYPRO Technology Corp., a cybersecurity solutions company located in Simi Valley, CA. “During [COVID], we geared our questions toward making sure employees had the tools they needed to do their job and added general check-in questions to better understand how our team was managing through the pandemic.
“Surveys do not need to be complicated to be effective; instead they should be focused on questions that will provide the data needed to make sound decisions,” continued Bond-Hillman. Focus on including the questions that will get you the answers you need to drive meaningful change at your organization.
15 Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions
Ready to launch your own employee satisfaction questionnaire? In order to get the most out of your survey, you’ll want to include a combination of open-ended questions to collect employee feedback, and rating scale or Likert scale questions for quantitative answers. Rating-scale questions ask respondents to select a number from 1 to 10 (or another specified scale) that most accurately represents their response. Similarly, Likert scale questions have employees indicate their agreement or disagreement toward a given statement by selecting a response ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
Below, we’ve included a mix of all three question types, in all three of the aforementioned categories, to help inspire you as you create your own employee satisfaction survey.
Role-Based Survey Questions
- Do you find your work meaningful?
- Do you feel your role leverages your skills as much as it could?
- Do you feel well-compensated for your work?
- Do you feel you are growing professionally at this company?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
Interpersonal Survey Questions
- How much do you feel your coworkers value your opinions?
- Does your manager support you when you need it?
- How often does your manager invest in your professional growth?
- I feel my work is always recognized.
- I feel my manager values my opinions.
Organizational Survey Questions
- How satisfied are you working for our company?
- Would you recommend our company to friends and family? Why or why not?
- How open to change are we as an organization?
- How likely are you to look for another job outside of the company?
- If you could change one thing at the company, what would it be?
Lastly, it’s nice to end an employee satisfaction survey with an open-ended question that gives employees the opportunity to share any honest feedback that other questions didn’t address.
“We have found that open-ended, qualitative questions give us more insight into our organization than rankings and ratings,” noted Rochele Bertasso, SHRM-SCP, HR business partner at Helpside, a Human Resources consultancy specializing in small businesses. “This gives space for an employee to provide information that you may not have even asked about.”
Employee satisfaction surveys are just one of the many surveys you should regularly conduct to keep a pulse on the health of your organization. Employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, onboarding, and exit surveys are just a handful of the many ways you can gather the insights you need to create an exceptional work environment. Just be mindful of how often you reach out to employees as you don’t want them to have survey fatigue.
If you’re looking to introduce new surveys or update your existing ones, check out Latice’s employee survey template library for more sample questions and best practices.