Your Ultimate Guide to the Employee Engagement Survey

In this article, learn the purpose and power of employee engagement surveys in transforming your workplace. Want tips on how to evolve your employee listening strategy?

Your Ultimate Guide to the Employee Engagement Survey

Understanding employee feedback is crucial to driving employee engagement, and a powerful way to gain this understanding is through employee engagement surveys. These surveys serve as more than just feedback tools – they are a vital resource for identifying key business challenges and opportunities. 

When conducted thoughtfully and on a regular basis, the results from engagement surveys can provide essential data to positively influence a company's trajectory. From enhancing workplace culture to addressing underlying issues that impact productivity and morale, the findings from these surveys can be transformative.

In this article, we discuss the nuances of employee engagement surveys, sharing why they’re important, how to effectively implement them, and research-backed questions you can consider for your next survey.

Join us as we unpack the what, why, and how of using employee engagement surveys effectively, ensuring they become an integral part of your business’s strategy for success.


Learn how to conduct an effective employee engagement survey with our  comprehensive guide. 


What is an employee engagement survey?

An employee engagement survey is a tool used by organizations to measure and understand employee engagement levels. Conducted throughout the year, these surveys involve all employees to reveal employee perceptions and turn them into actionable insights. They help measure the strength of the emotional and mental connection employees feel toward their work, team, and the organization as a whole.

Why is an employee engagement survey important?

  1. Accurate Measurement: These surveys provide a structured and consistent way to measure employee engagement. They help quantify what can often feel intangible, giving leadership and HR professionals clear metrics to assess the health of their organization’s culture and employee morale. With precise measurement, it becomes easier to identify areas of strength and those needing improvement.

  2. Uncovering Powerful Insights: Employee engagement surveys dive deep into the workforce's mindset, uncovering insights that might otherwise remain hidden. They open up channels for employees to express their thoughts on various aspects of their work life—from their relationship with managers to their alignment with the company’s vision. These insights are invaluable for understanding the driving forces behind employee motivation, satisfaction, and productivity. Plus, these data can serve as a valuable resource for driving both external and internal business decisions.

  3. Actionable Next Steps: Perhaps the most significant aspect of these surveys is their ability to highlight actionable next steps. The feedback obtained is not just for contemplation but for action. Organizations can use the data to create targeted strategies for enhancing employee engagement. The survey results can inform everything from policy changes and managerial training programs to initiatives aimed at improving work-life balance or communication within teams.


In essence, employee engagement surveys are essential for organizations to nurture a positive work environment. Given that engaged employees are shown to be 3.3 times more likely to feel ownership and involvement in the survey action-taking process, these surveys offer a clear, data-driven pathway to understanding and improving the factors that influence employee engagement, ultimately leading to a more motivated, committed, and productive workforce.

Employee engagement surveys are the pillar of your employee listening strategy

Employee engagement surveys are a vital component of your overall employee listening strategy, acting as the cornerstone of meaningful employee interaction and feedback. 

These surveys play a critical role in the broader context of the employee listening flywheel – a dynamic process of gathering, analyzing, and acting upon employee feedback. By integrating surveys into this flywheel, organizations can create a continuous loop of communication, where survey insights fuel understanding and drive action.

Further, these surveys are instrumental in implementing and benefiting from an employee engagement model, which offers a structured framework to not only gauge engagement levels but also to identify key drivers and areas for improvement. 

Employee engagement survey purpose: why do one?

An employee engagement survey is an essential tool in your employee listening arsenal, especially crucial in a world increasingly shifting towards remote and hybrid work models. 

In large organizations, or those with teams that work across a number of environments and geographies, it's challenging for leaders to connect with every employee personally. Employee engagement surveys bridge this gap, providing a straightforward platform for employees to share their perspectives and experiences.

These surveys are more than just a means of communication; they are powerful catalysts for organizational growth and success. They enable you to:

  • Pinpoint your company's strengths and celebrate them.
  • Illuminate areas needing attention and development.
  • Empower every employee to express their views, fostering inclusivity.
  • Draw connections between employee engagement and tangible business outcomes.
  • Strengthen trust within your workforce by showing that every opinion matters.
  • Conduct detailed analyses to understand varied experiences across employee demographics.
  • Prompt actions and informed decisions based on real, actionable feedback.
  • Gather insights that guide you through organizational changes.
  • Lay the groundwork for a thriving company culture that attracts and retains top talent.

Effectively executed, employee engagement surveys can transform the way you understand and improve your workplace, making them an indispensable part of your strategic toolkit.

Types of employee engagement surveys

When it comes to understanding and enhancing employee engagement, diversity in how you get the feedback you need to be successful is key. A traditional annual employee engagement survey, while valuable, is just one piece of the puzzle. 

To make it easy, we’re sharing a comprehensive view at the common types of employee engagement surveys used by organizations to gather insights:


Annual Employee Engagement Survey

As mentioned above, this comprehensive survey is typically conducted once a year and aims to gauge the overall level of engagement and satisfaction among employees. It covers a wide range of topics from job satisfaction, management effectiveness, to workplace culture. The data gathered serves as a benchmark for year-over-year comparisons, helping organizations track their progress in improving the workplace experience.


Pulse Surveys

Unlike the extensive annual survey, pulse surveys are shorter and conducted more frequently—sometimes quarterly or even monthly. They focus on specific areas of concern or interest, providing quick insights into current employee sentiments. Pulse surveys are an effective tool for gauging the immediate impact of new initiatives or changes within the organization, allowing for timely adjustments.


Employee Lifecycle Surveys

These surveys are distributed at critical junctures in an employee’s journey with the company, such as onboarding, post-training, after significant projects, or upon exiting the company. Each lifecycle survey is tailored to gather feedback relevant to that specific stage in an employee's career. For instance, onboarding surveys might focus on the effectiveness of the induction process, while exit surveys could seek insights into reasons for departure. These surveys provide valuable data to improve each stage of the employee lifecycle and enhance overall employee experience.

Each type of survey plays a unique role in painting a comprehensive picture of employee engagement within an organization. By employing a mix of these surveys, businesses can gain nuanced insights, respond to issues promptly, and create a more engaged and productive workforce.


What is the difference between a team survey vs. employee engagement survey?

The distinction between a team survey and an employee engagement survey lies in the scope and focus.

A team survey is specifically designed to assess the dynamics within a particular team. It focuses on elements such as teamwork, communication, leadership effectiveness within the team, and how team members collaborate to achieve common goals. The feedback gathered is often used to enhance team cohesion, identify areas of conflict, and improve overall team performance.

On the other hand, an employee engagement survey takes a broader view, encompassing the entire organization. It measures how emotionally and mentally connected employees feel to their work, their team, and the broader company. This survey delves into aspects like job satisfaction, alignment with company goals, manager effectiveness, and general workplace environment. The insights from this survey are crucial for shaping company priorities, improving workplace culture, and boosting overall employee morale and productivity.

So, while team surveys drill down into the nitty-gritty of team-level interactions and efficiencies, employee engagement surveys provide a comprehensive view of an employee's experience within the organization at large. 

How to conduct an employee engagement survey

Developing an effective employee engagement survey requires focus and clear survey design. Here's how to start your approach:

  • Stay Focused on Engagement: Your survey should primarily measure employees' connection to their work, team, and organization. Resist the urge to include unrelated questions or topics, as this can muddy the survey’s purpose and make it harder to act on the feedback.
  • Select Relevant Demographics: Choose demographics that will help segment and analyze the data meaningfully. Include professional demographics like location, tenure, and department, and personal ones like gender and age. However, avoid overloading the survey with unnecessary demographics, as this can complicate data analysis and action planning.
  • Craft Impactful Questions: Mix engagement outcome questions with impact questions to get a comprehensive understanding of engagement levels. Engagement outcomes might include statements like “I’m happy with my job” or “I recommend this organization as a great place to work.” Impact questions should explore areas like career growth, change management, and team dynamics. These questions should be aligned with the organization's goals and employee expectations.

Remember, the survey should lead to actionable insights. Up next, we'll delve into the tactical steps of "how" to utilize these insights effectively to drive meaningful changes in your organization. 

In the following sections, we’ll get into the details of how to make the above a reality for your survey. Stay with us!


Why is an employee engagement model key to your employee engagement survey?

An employee engagement model is a critical component of your employee engagement survey. This model shapes the survey, ensuring questions focus on the key (and credible) aspects of engagement within your organization. It's not just about asking questions but about strategically exploring important factors like job satisfaction, alignment with company values, and the quality of managerial relationships.

A trusted employee engagement model will effectively measure engagement and pinpoint actionable areas of improvement for your organization. Your chosen model should include engagement outcome questions that will help you asses the current health of your organization; and engagement impact questions that help you draw actionable insights from the survey data, guiding the development of strategies to improve engagement. Instead of simply showing engagement levels, the survey reveals the reasons behind these levels, enabling a more effective response.

Chart with engagement outcomes and impact questions


In short, an employee engagement survey integrated into your engagement model isn't just a measurement tool – it's a way to deeply understand employee engagement. This approach makes sure your efforts to improve engagement are based on a solid understanding of your employees' experiences, leading to more impactful and successful engagement initiatives.

Use your employee engagement model to help frame your questions. Below we’ll share a few to help get you started. 


Research-backed questions to include in your employee engagement survey

When crafting your employee engagement survey, selecting the right questions is crucial. Your survey should blend engagement outcome questions with impact questions to gain a comprehensive view of your workforce’s engagement. 

Try the following employee engagement survey questions as a starting point:

Engagement Outcomes: These questions measure the core of employee engagement in your organization. Examples include:

  • “It would take a lot to get me to leave this organization.”
  • “I recommend this organization as a great place to work.”
  • “My immediate coworkers are committed to this organization’s overall goals.”
  • “I feel accepted by my immediate coworkers.”
  • “I find my work engaging.”
  • “I’m happy with my job.”

Impact Questions: These questions dive deeper into specific areas that influence engagement. Categories and example questions include:

  • Career Growth and Development:
    • “I find my job interesting and challenging.”
    • “I see professional growth and career development opportunities for myself here.”
    • “This job aligns with my career goals.”
  • Change Management:
    • “I understand why the organization makes changes.”
    • “Changes align with our mission and vision.”

  • Future Outlook:
    • “I believe this organization will be successful in the future.”
    • “I understand the company’s plans for future success.”
    • “I know how I fit into the organization’s future plans.”

  • Individual Needs:
    • “I am paid fairly.”
    • “My job allows flexibility for work and personal life.”
    • “I know I will be recognized for contributing to the organization’s success.”

  • Communication and Resources:
    • “There is open communication at all levels of the organization.”
      “I have the necessary information and tools to do my job well.”

  • Manager Effectiveness:
    • “My manager cares about me as a person.”
    • “I receive regular, constructive feedback on my performance.”
    • “My manager cares about my development.”
  • Team Dynamics:
    • “Team goals and responsibilities are clear.”
    • “My coworkers are committed to quality work.”
    • “There is good collaboration between teams.”
  • Empowerment:
    • “I feel empowered to make decisions affecting my work.”
    • “I have the freedom to improve products, processes, and services.”
  • Trust in Leadership:
    • “The senior leaders demonstrate integrity.”
    • “I trust our senior leaders to lead us to future success.”


7 types of questions to avoid in your employee engagement survey

When designing your employee engagement survey, it's just as important to know which questions to avoid as it is to know which questions to include. Certain types of questions can skew results, confuse participants, or fail to provide useful insights. 

Here are seven key types of questions to steer clear of:

  1. Leading or Biased Questions: Questions that lead respondents towards a specific answer can skew results. Avoid phrasing like, "Don't you agree that..." or "Isn't it true that..." which suggest a 'correct' response.

  2. Double-Barreled Questions: Questions addressing two topics at once can be confusing and lead to unclear answers. For example, “Do you feel your manager communicates effectively and supports your career development?” should be split into two separate questions for clarity.

  3. Overly Complex or Technical Questions: Keep your questions simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and/or technical terms that not all employees might understand.

  4. Negative Framing: While it’s important to address challenges, framing questions negatively can influence respondents to focus only on the negative aspects. For example, instead of asking, "Why do you think there's a lack of trust in management?" consider, "How can trust in management be improved?”

  5. Hypothetical Questions: Questions about hypothetical situations often lead to speculative answers that don’t reflect actual experiences or feelings. Focus on real situations and experiences.

  6. Questions About Highly Personal or Sensitive Topics: While it’s crucial to understand all aspects of employee engagement, asking about overly personal or sensitive topics without a clear purpose can make employees uncomfortable and less likely to respond honestly.

  7. Overly Broad Questions: Questions that are too broad can lead to vague answers that don’t offer actionable insights. Instead of asking, "Are you satisfied with your job?" try to be more specific, like, "How satisfied are you with your current work-life balance?"

By avoiding these types of questions, you can ensure your employee engagement survey is clear, unbiased, and provides valuable insights for improving your workplace environment.


How often to offer employee engagement survey

Our research shows that annual employee engagement surveys alone are insufficient. Employees who are surveyed more regularly have higher engagement. However, employees who are surveyed monthly are most likely to say that their organization sends too many surveys. 

There’s a delicate balance between effective continuous listening and survey fatigue.

How often you survey your employees is up to you, but these recommendations will increase the likelihood of your success.

  1. Launch an employee engagement survey to all employees annually. This survey is an opportunity to hear from all employees on key topics.

  2. Supplement with pulse and lifecycle surveys. These surveys capture feedback on important and timely topics and at critical employee milestones. Combined with your annual engagement survey, you’ll have a full picture of the employee experience.

  3. Aim for employees to participate in at least four surveys in a year. But do not send so many surveys that the organization cannot take effective action.

Only measure what you can act on.

If you can’t take action on something, don’t ask about it. When you ask your employees for feedback on any given topic, be prepared to act.

Survey cadence and employee engagement graph

Tips to increase employee engagement survey response rate

Improving the response rate to your employee engagement survey is key to its success. Considering the effort and resources involved, it's crucial to maximize participation. Here are some practical tips to boost your survey response rate:

  • Make a Formal Announcement: Begin with a clear, formal announcement about the survey. This sets the tone and emphasizes the survey's significance.
  • Designate Time for Survey Completion: Allocate specific time slots during work hours for employees to complete the survey. This demonstrates organizational commitment to the process.
  • Ensure Manager Accountability: Ensure managers actively encourage their teams to participate. Their endorsement can significantly influence response rates.
  • Highlight the Survey's Importance: Clearly communicate the importance and value of each employee's participation. Make it known that every voice matters and can drive meaningful change.
  • Act on Feedback: After the survey, prioritize making changes based on the received feedback. When employees see their input leading to real improvements, they are more likely to engage in future surveys.
  • Prioritize Regular Communication: Throughout the survey period, keep the lines of communication open. Regular updates or reminders can keep the survey top of mind for employees.
  • Create Employee-First Communications: Frame all communication from an employee-first perspective. Emphasize how their feedback contributes to positive changes in the workplace.

Aiming for a 70-80% response rate in larger organizations and 80-90% in smaller ones is a realistic goal. Remember, a high response rate not only provides more comprehensive insights but also reflects a healthy level of employee engagement and trust in the organization.

Download the eBook: Evolving Your Approach to Employee Performance: 7 Critical  Considerations for HR

Because communication is such a key part of your success, let’s discuss that a bit more.

How to approach employee engagement survey communication

Communication is one of the most overlooked and under-executed elements of the survey process. Done well, your employee engagement survey communication can:

Poor communication can result in damaging and costly consequences, such as low response rates, distrust, confusion, decreased morale, and disengagement.

We recommend a 3x3x3 model for survey communication, including:

  • 3x prior to survey launch. Make a formal announcement, ideally from the CEO. Remind employees what you did with last year’s results, and tell them how you plan to use them this year. Let them know when the survey will be launched and how.
  • 3x during the survey period. Once the survey opens, remind employees how to access the survey. You don’t want employees to feel like the survey is mandatory—but you do want to keep the enthusiasm.
  • 3x after the survey closes. Once the results are in, thank your employees for their participation and let them know what to expect next. Send out a high-level overview as soon as possible with a summary of key findings.

What to do with employee engagement survey results

To effectively enhance engagement in your organization, focus on specific levels - organizational, team, and individual. Start by identifying one or two key areas for improvement and then initiate actionable steps. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to develop and implement your employee engagement action plan:

Share Results Organization-Wide

Transparently communicate the survey findings with the entire organization. This openness builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to improvement.

Empower Your Managers with Effective Tools

Provide managers with the right software, data, and authority to act on the survey results. They play a pivotal role in driving change and fostering engagement within their teams

Encourage Team Discussions

Facilitate discussions within teams to delve into the results. This encourages collective understanding and collaborative problem-solving.

Set Clear Goals and Take Decisive Action

Based on the feedback, set achievable goals. Implement decisions that address the identified areas of improvement.

Establish Regular Progress Check-ins

Establish a routine to monitor the progress of the actions taken. This helps in maintaining momentum and ensuring that the efforts are on track.

Update and Adapt Goals

Be flexible in your approach. As you evaluate progress, be prepared to adjust goals and strategies to better align with evolving needs and circumstances.

Remember, the key to a successful action plan lies in focused efforts, continuous evaluation, and the willingness to adapt. By following this roadmap, you can create a more engaged and productive work environment.

Understand high-level results and level up your analysis


Using your employee engagement survey to develop a post-survey action plan

Active participation from everyone in the organization is crucial to ensure that the insights gained from your employee engagement survey lead to meaningful change. Our findings indicate that while 61% of employees anticipate actions following survey results, only 48% witness these expectations being met. 

The absence of follow-through on survey outcomes can significantly dampen employee morale and reduce their willingness to engage in future surveys. Developing a post-survey action plan is essential, but it doesn't have to be complex. It's about commitment and strategy. 

Screen Shot 2024-01-10 at 5.02.13 PM

Effective post-survey action involves:

  • Leadership Engagement: It’s vital for organizational leaders to take the helm in responding to survey results. Their active role in this process underscores its importance.
  • Visible Change from Feedback: Employees need to see that their feedback isn't just heard but acted upon, leading to tangible improvements in the workplace.
  • Manager-Employee Discussions: Managers should engage in meaningful dialogues with their teams about the survey findings, fostering a culture of open communication.
  • Metrics for Progress: To gauge the effectiveness of actions taken, teams should establish clear metrics. This helps track progress and informs future strategies.
  • Commitment to Continuous Growth: Demonstrating an ongoing dedication to improvement signals to employees that their well-being and professional growth are valued.

By ensuring everyone plays a role in this process, from leadership to individual team members, the organization can create a positive cycle of feedback, action, and improvement.


Unlocking Employee Engagement 5 Corners You Shouldn’t Cut in Your Post-Survey  Action Planning >>

The essential checklist for choosing the right employee engagement survey software

When selecting employee engagement survey software, it's about more than just choosing a tool; it's about finding a solution that aligns with your strategic goals. Here's a checklist to help you choose the right partner for your organization:

Efficient Survey Launch: Ensure the software allows for quick survey setup and launch, respecting your time constraints.

Monitor Participation Rates: Look for features that enable you to track employee participation in real-time and provide communication tools.

Responsive Support: Ensure the vendor offers prompt technical and customer support throughout the survey process. Questions to ask during your vendor evaluation include:

What level of technical support is provided?

Is there an option for additional support if needed?

What is the response time for inquiries?

Can employees directly contact support?

Advanced Reporting Platform: Your software should offer an intuitive online system for easy data access, survey customization, and advanced reporting capabilities.

Training and Best Practices: Choose a vendor that provides comprehensive training and resources for effective tool usage and data interpretation.

Continuous Listening Tools: The software should support a variety of surveys (pulse, onboarding, engagement, exit) to complement your ongoing engagement strategy.

Industry Benchmarks: Opt for a solution that provides benchmarking against similar organizations to gauge your engagement levels.

HRIS Integration: Ensure the software can integrate with your HR Information System for streamlined data management.

Managerial Support and Training: The tool should include resources and dashboards for managers, offering insights like engagement driver analysis, heat maps, and customized reports.

Ongoing Innovation: Your chosen vendor should be committed to continuous product enhancement and share their vision and updates regularly.


Select a partner that not only meets these criteria but also shares your commitment to creating a thriving, engaged workplace.

That’s where we come in.

Employee engagement surveys with Quantum Workplace

Quantum Workplace’s employee engagement survey platform makes aggregating, analyzing, and acting on company-wide feedback a breeze for everyone involved, including:

  • Survey design you can trust
  • Flexible and robust reporting and analytics
  • Benchmark against America’s Best Places to Work
  • Easy access to empower your managers
  • Action planning to help teams move the needle
  • Text message invitations & notifications for dispersed workforces

Learn more about our employee engagement survey software, or schedule a demo today.




Mobilize your teams around engagement with Quantum Workplace. Get a demo.


Published July 27, 2022 | Written By Kristin Ryba