Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement Surveys: What to Ask and How to Run One

April 12, 2024
April 12, 2024
Lyssa Test
Lattice Team

According to global analytics and advisory firm Gallup, only 33% of full- and part-time US employees were engaged at work in 2023. Since Gallup estimates disengagement can cost about $1.9 trillion in lost productivity nationwide, it’s in businesses’ best interest to invest in engagement. 

To do so, your business must first assess its engagement levels and identify areas of improvement. How can you get these quantitative and qualitative insights? Use engagement surveys

In this article, we explore what these surveys are and how to run one effectively. We’ll also share what questions to include and best practices for making the most out of your employee engagement questionnaire, so you can launch a successful employee survey and make positive changes that can improve retention, employee satisfaction, and business outcomes. 

What Is an Employee Engagement Survey?

An employee engagement survey evaluates elements such as pride, connection, wellbeing, motivation, and more to assess overall levels of engagement in an organization. These surveys provide valuable workforce insights that allow organizations to identify areas for improvement and take action to build a better work environment for their employees, making them crucial tools for fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

By including Likert scale and open-ended questions in engagement surveys, businesses can collect both quantitative and qualitative insights about the entire employee experience at their company. With this information, organizations can not only understand how employees feel about their roles, teams, and business, but also cultivate a workplace environment that nurtures employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall wellbeing.

Types of Engagement Survey Questions

Employee engagement may seem like an intangible concept at first, but it is influenced by a number of workplace factors that play a pivotal role in fostering a positive and motivated workforce. To better understand engagement in your organization, you’ll need to ask questions about various engagement drivers like what motivates and inspires your employees, how connected they feel to your company's mission and values, and more. 

In your employee engagement survey process, you’ll want to include questions from the following categories: 

Core Engagement Theme Questions

There are a few key drivers of engagement you’ll want to touch on in each of your engagement surveys. They are: 

  • Purpose: I feel fulfilled by the work that I'm doing.
  • Community: I feel connected to the people at this company.
  • Connection: I feel invested in our mission, vision, and values.
  • Future commitment: I'd like to be working at this company a year from now.
  • Motivation: I'm motivated to do my best work.

These questions target high-impact topics known to drive engagement, so prioritizing improvements in these areas can lead to higher engagement levels.

Other Questions

Outside of your core engagement questions, you might also want to ask employees about specific facets of your workplace experience. These questions often help organizations identify areas of improvement. 

Consider including questions that address the following categories in your next employee survey:

Below, we share some example survey questions you can use to ask employees about these topics and more.

25 Employee Engagement Survey Questions You Should Ask

Before you start building your survey, you’ll need to determine what questions to ask employees. While subject matter is important, you'll also want to consider how you ask the question itself, like formatting the issue as a rating scale question or open-ended question.

Below are some effective survey questions you can use to learn more about your workforce and their experiences at your company.

Rating Scale Questions

This type of question (or statement) is generally followed by a small spectrum of responses. Survey-takers choose a response to indicate their level of agreement, which can range from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree,” “Not likely at all” to “Extremely likely,” “Poor” to “Excellent,” and more.

  1. How likely are you to recommend [this company] to a friend?
  2. I'd like to be working at this company a year from now.
  3. I feel invested in our mission, vision, and values. 
  4. I feel connected to the people at this company. 
  5. I feel fulfilled by the work that I'm doing. 
  6. I have a clear understanding of my responsibilities and expectations at work.
  7. I'm proud of the contributions I make to this company.
  8. How motivated do you feel to do your best work?
  9. People from all demographic backgrounds have an equal opportunity to succeed at this company. 
  10. I feel like I belong in this company.
  11. To what extent do you agree that your manager communicates effectively?
  12. My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis.
  13. Our company leaders consistently keep people informed about what is happening within the organization.
  14. I have a clear understanding of available professional growth opportunities within our company. 
  15. I feel safe taking risks and making mistakes in my current team.

Open-Ended Questions

These questions do not limit respondents to a series of predefined responses, rather they allow employees to express their thoughts in their own words. This can provide your business with more detailed and nuanced insights that might otherwise be missed from rating scale questions.

  1. What three words would you use to describe your experience at this company? 
  2. What do you wish senior leadership knew about your experience at this company? 
  3. If you were CEO for a day, what is the one thing you would change about our company?
  4. What are the areas that need the most improvement within our organization?
  5. What tools and resources do you use for your job?
  6. What is one thing you would change about your role?
  7. What are our organization’s greatest strengths? 
  8. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
  9. How does your manager recognize your hard work?
  10. How can our organization improve our career development opportunities? 

Looking for even more questions to include in your next survey? Check out our article 35 Employee Engagement Survey Questions You Need to Ask for tips on how to craft the perfect query and more sample questions to pull from. 

How to Run an Engagement Survey

Ready to kick off your own engagement survey? From pre-survey set-up to post-survey follow-up, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to run an employee engagement survey successfully.

1. Decide on your area of focus.

Before you write your survey, you need to determine an area of focus. While all engagement surveys have a set of more general questions regarding overall engagement, these are more likely to focus on how an employee is feeling, rather than a problem in the workplace. For example, “I feel energized and ready to come to work each morning [strongly disagree - strongly agree].”

However, a good employee engagement survey process will also ask some deeper questions on a few areas management has identified as potential problems. These are more likely to focus on the workplace and its mechanisms. For example, “I have been given adequate resources to complete my last three projects [yes/no].”

Both types of questions are necessary; simply asking about how employees feel will not give you a clear understanding of what your company can improve upon to have a more engaged workforce. But by identifying potential problems, you can gauge how each issue impacts employees and therefore decide what to tackle first.

To brainstorm problem areas, ask managers:

  • What problems do you see your direct reports having?
  • What problems do your direct reports frequently bring up?
  • What do you see as the company's strengths and weaknesses?

This pre-survey work sets the stage for your employee engagement survey to create a meaningful impact.

2. Craft your survey.

Once you know what areas you're asking about, you have to craft the right questions to put in your survey. Writing survey questions can take time, but it's important to be thoughtful. Asking poorly worded or ambiguous questions can hurt your survey results or make it more difficult to gauge the employee experience.

Survey questions need to:

  • Be clear.
  • Address one problem at a time.
  • Give space for employees to comment when necessary.

If you are writing your own questions, you should have someone double-check them for clarity before sending your survey out. While it's likely that you will need to write or modify questions to fit the specifics of your workplace, don't hesitate to use pre-formulated ones, like those in Lattice’s question bank.

You can also use our Employee Engagement Survey Template to help you craft your survey faster.

3. Give your survey.

Getting an employee to take an engagement survey can be tricky. Employees are already busy and may not have bought into the efficacy of an engagement survey, especially if it is your first time giving one. To ensure healthy survey participation rates:

  • Make your survey anonymous, so people feel empowered to share their actual experiences, and not filter their thoughts in fear of retribution. (With Lattice, all surveys are anonymous.)
  • Ensure that you have buy-in from managers, and get them involved in the process — for example, consider putting them in charge of reminding their team to fill out the survey. This will positively impact your response rate by setting the tone for employees and signaling that they need to take the survey seriously.
  • Use a tool that is easy to navigate and familiar to employees — or at least one that's simple to use. Engagement surveys are not the time to try out new or complex software or systems, especially if an employee will have to sign up for a new account.

Above all, you need to be clear that the engagement survey is important and that management will take employees’ survey responses seriously. If employees aren't sure their word will be taken seriously, they won't put much thought into their answers — if they take the survey at all.

4. Analyze your results.

The results are in! You now have tangible evidence that will help you measure engagement and job satisfaction. When you start to analyze your survey data, use trends as an indicator of successes and problems alike. This will help you better understand what you're doing well and how to translate that success across different areas of your company.

If you have open-response questions, take time to read employees' thoughts and suggestions. Often, these will tell you a lot about the more nuanced things impacting engagement levels: how employees are visualizing their problems and roles, rather than how they feel about what you asked. Common complaints can also help you identify problems employees are feeling with everything from company culture to their work-life balance — and in turn, identify potential issues that could negatively impact employee retention.

It’s also important to see how complaints might support or contrast the rest of your survey results. That information can help you determine how employees feel about their jobs beyond how much they deal with problems.

Then, brainstorm the underlying reasons behind the problems you identified, and start to set out potential solutions and action items. While you don't need to do watertight action planning, you should have an idea of possible next steps before you talk to employees.

5. Share your results.

The key to sharing employee engagement survey results is to do it in a timely manner. This sends the message that you are making engagement and employee feedback a priority — remember that your employees likely don't see all of the behind-the-scenes work you are putting in. Quickly synthesizing results is one of the most outwardly visible ways to demonstrate your commitment.

To deliver engagement results:

  • Write a report that summarizes findings and explains key takeaways.
  • Present your results in an all-hands meeting. Be clear about what you identified as problems and what you see as the underlying causes. Include next steps.
  • Make your report and presentation available for your employees wherever you keep documentation.

At the end of your presentation and while reading your report, employees should be able to understand what you are taking from the survey and what you plan to do about it. Don't just give raw numbers, also add in what actionable insights you have gleaned. This will make the rest of your cycle much easier, as employees can see your line of thinking.

6. Solicit more feedback.

After you have shared the results of your survey, you need to solicit more feedback. An engagement survey is a great first step, but to actually create meaningful change, you need to follow up once the survey is done.

A key part of this is soliciting more feedback, especially on the potential solutions you present to employees. To get good feedback, try the following:

  • Solicit feedback in small focus groups with a mix of people from across the company.
  • Have managers talk about potential solutions with team members during their weekly team meetings.
  • Provide open office hours for feedback on survey results or solutions.

Gathering feedback gives employees a chance to contribute to your changes, which can help you gain perspective on the implications of different solutions. It also underscores employees’ role in creating positive change from an engagement survey.

7. Implement solutions.

Perhaps most critically, you must implement solutions relatively soon after giving a survey. Again, this indicates your commitment to the engagement survey process, taking employee feedback seriously, and making changes that improve engagement

Regardless of how big or small your changes are, give a clear timeline as to when you will roll them out. Let employees know what to expect post-survey, and when you will check in again to give real-time updates on new processes and programs.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Engagement Survey Process

If you’re looking to launch a successful engagement survey, follow these four best practices. They’ll help you set clear expectations with employees so you can collect honest and valuable feedback that your business can turn into meaningful change. 

1. Communicate with employees to get buy-in.

Securing employee buy-in is a crucial part of running a successful engagement survey. Before launching your survey, try to: 

  • Provide a detailed overview of the survey’s purpose.
  • Explain how it will help shape workplace improvements.
  • Share how employees can participate.
  • Give employees a timeline of when to expect results and a detailed action plan.                                                                          

This proactive communication can not only boost participation but also ensure that employees understand the role their honest feedback can play in driving positive change within your organization.

2. Only ask questions you can take action on.

The effectiveness of an engagement survey depends on your business’s ability to take meaningful action based on employee responses. To that end, prioritize questions that align with your organization's goals and challenges. This approach ensures that the collected data serves a practical purpose, allowing you to implement targeted improvements and demonstrate a commitment to addressing employee concerns. Otherwise, your business risks losing employee trust when it fails to implement their feedback.

3. Run surveys regularly.

Employee engagement is dynamic and can be influenced by various factors. Running surveys at regular intervals can give you a baseline reading of your engagement levels and provide a more comprehensive understanding of larger trends and organizational changes over time. This approach allows you to identify patterns, track progress, and adapt strategies based on evolving employee sentiments. Think of it as collecting continuous feedback for your business.

4. Benchmark results to measure growth.

By comparing your survey results against industry standards or previous internal benchmarks, you can measure growth and identify areas for improvement. Benchmarking provides critical context to your data, helping you understand whether your organization is progressing positively, how you compare to your competitors, and where changes might be necessary to improve engagement. 

Engagement survey tools like Lattice can provide external benchmarking data for your business to use. Lattice Engagement Benchmarks offer industry-, country-, region-, and employee count-specific data to help your business contextualize its results. 


  • How useful are engagement surveys? Engagement surveys are highly useful for organizations to assess and enhance employee satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and foster a positive workplace culture.
  • How do you structure an engagement survey? An engagement survey typically includes a mix of Likert scale and open-ended questions assessing various workplace themes like job satisfaction, senior leadership, communication, and professional development opportunities.
  • When should you start an engagement survey? While you can start an engagement survey any time of year, if you have the flexibility, try to avoid launching one right after periods of significant change like major leadership changes or mergers and acquisitions. Opting to survey during periods of stability can help you get a better assessment of your organization’s engagement.
  • How long should an engagement survey be? While many businesses worry that longer surveys will see lower response and participation rates, Lattice data proves the opposite. We found that both metrics generally improve with survey length, according to survey data from the companies using Lattice. That analysis found that employee engagement surveys in the 50- to 59-question range saw average response rates of 84% and participation rates of 88%.
  • How often should you run an engagement survey? Most businesses run annual surveys, although many also opt for semi-annually or even quarterly surveys depending on their needs. Just keep in mind how often you’re surveying your workforce to avoid survey fatigue
  • What are good engagement survey questions? Well-crafted engagement survey questions are designed to capture a comprehensive understanding of employee perceptions, experiences, and attitudes within your organization. Your business can ask employees their thoughts on various engagement drivers to gather the insights necessary for making meaningful and informed changes.

Running Employee Engagement Surveys With Lattice

When evaluating your business’s employee engagement levels and making your organization a great place to work, it never hurts to get a little extra help. An easy-to-use engagement survey platform like Lattice can not only simplify survey administration but also help your team extract meaningful insights from employee responses and contextualize results with benchmark data. 

Using Lattice, your organization can gain a detailed understanding of how to optimize employee experiences for peak performance and unparalleled engagement. Get a personalized Lattice demo and learn how your business can transform employee feedback into an impactful engagement strategy today.