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Employee Happiness Survey: 20 essential questions you need to ask

A staff happiness survey is only as good as the questions. Here are 20 essential employee well-being questions to ask your employees.
Published 16 Dec 2021
Updated 1 Dec 2022
8 min read
Employee Happiness Survey: 20 essential questions you need to ask

Conventional wisdom holds that happy employees are engaged employees. And engaged employees play a significant role in any company’s financial performance. So having satisfied employees and keeping them happy is key to business success.

That’s why it’s so important to keep a pulse on employee happiness. One of the best ways to do this is via an employee happiness survey or an employee satisfaction survey.

This year the work happiness survey will potentially be more important than any in the last few years. It’s your opportunity to measure employee satisfaction and let your team members be frank about how they’re going.

It’s important to remember that every employee survey question you ask implies that you’re going to take action based on the answers you get.

What are employee happiness surveys?

An employee happiness survey is a series of questions that you ask your team members about their job satisfaction. Also known as employee satisfaction surveys, the answers to these surveys can help you identify any areas in your workplace culture where employees are unhappy and make changes accordingly.

They give you a chance to find out how employees feel and gauge employee happiness. If you can identify the source of low job satisfaction levels, you can take steps to fix the problem and improve employee morale.

Why is employee engagement important?

Engaged employees really care about your company and what they’re working on. They don’t have to be pushed, and they happily go the extra mile. They believe in you and your company vision.

Employees tend to be happier if they are in jobs or roles that match both their interests and their skills and feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to their employer and even society as a whole.

More importantly, engaged employees are appropriately recognised and rewarded for their contribution.

Understanding employee satisfaction in Australia

A DCA national representative survey of Australian employees focused on employment conditions and other key information, such as diversity demographics, employee engagement, well-being, productivity, business effectiveness and more.

The outcome revealed that companies that fail to keep up with expectations around issues like work-life balance and inclusive workplaces run a risk of lower productivity and higher turnover.

Some key findings of the study include:

  • Employees with caregiving managers reported greater work-life balance, greater access to flexibility, and positive work-life culture
  • 83% of employees surveyed agreed their manager has unrealistic expectations of their performance
  • 81% claimed they had a supportive manager when faced with a work problem
  • 51% said they often have to choose between advancing in their career or giving time to personal life
  • Work-life balance was revealed as one of the top employment drivers
  • Parents claimed flexibility was the most important employment factor
  • One in five employees (18%) said they had considered resigning in the last six months as the result of a lack of flexibility

20 Employee satisfaction survey questions

As mentioned in our previous post on employee surveys, you have no hope of influencing employee engagement if you do not act on the results. Of course, a staff happiness survey is only as good as the questions.

Here are 20 essential employee well-being questions to ask employees.

Business goals and career growth questions

1. How well do you understand the strategic goals of the business?

A well-run company will align an individual’s goals with its overarching business goals. This ensures your entire team is moving together in the same direction.

2. Can you see a clear link between your work and the company’s goals and objectives?

Happy employees can clearly understand how their work impacts a company’s overarching goals and objectives. We all like to feel needed and appreciated, and this translates in the workplace.

3. Do you feel like you have opportunities for growth and advancement?

One of the top reasons employees leave their jobs is a lack of professional growth opportunities. Even if your employees are happy with their current job, they will be pushing to advance at some point.

And if you have a team of Millennials, this will be sooner rather than later. If there are no opportunities for development and growth, don’t expect your employees to stick around for the long haul.

Team happiness and employee motivation questions

4. How well does your team work together?

Teamwork and collaboration are vital in most workplaces. So you need to make sure your employees are happy with the dynamic of their team.

5. Are you proud to be a member of your team?

Is your employee happy to be associated with their co-workers?

6. Does your team inspire you to do your best work?

A great team is a team that inspires one another. This is an important question to ask because a smooth-running team within your company will be a team of individuals who help one another do their best work.

7. Does your team help you to complete your work?

If results from the happiness at work questionnaire show signs of employee dissatisfaction, make sure you prioritise team-building efforts so your people can see that you’re following through.

Management satisfaction questions

8. How does your manager motivate your team?

There’s a fair amount of truth in the old saying, “You don’t quit your job, you quit your boss.” So it’s important to gauge the degree of satisfaction with direct supervisors.

9. How would you describe the level of support offered by your manager?

Effective management should mean an employee feels supported by their manager. If you consistently see low scores for this question, it’s time to start making changes.

10. On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable are you in giving feedback to your manager?

Guess what? Managers don’t always know best. Receiving employee feedback is super important to the effective growth of a company and a strong work culture. Employees should feel confident providing feedback to their manager.

11. To what degree is the management team transparent?

Transparency is an incredibly important factor that contributes to workplace happiness. When it comes to leadership, transparency equates to honesty and openness. You need to find out whether your staff trust your candour.

12. Describe our culture in fewer than 20 words.

Because leadership and culture are intertwined, make sure you find out what your employees think about your culture and whether they believe in your company and vision.

13. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend our company’s products or services to a friend?

You want to make sure your employees believe in the product you are selling. If you see low scores for this question, don’t panic.

Think about your internal messaging and staff education. Not all divisions in your company will work directly with your product. Could it be they simply don’t know enough about it?

Employee recognition questions

14. How strongly do you feel valued at work?

Feeling valued at work is a huge motivator, so this is an important question to gauge how valued your workers feel.

15. How frequently do you receive recognition from your manager?

If employees tell you it’s been weeks since they received any recognition, there’s good chance morale is slipping. And that’s the fast track to zoning out, low productivity and ultimately turnover.

16. What recognition did you receive the last time you completed a big project?

You should also find out how satisfied your employees are with their compensation.

17. Are you satisfied with your compensation and benefits?

While you may not be able to afford to give your employees a pay rise, you may be able to offer them a more generous employee benefits package. Something that doesn’t cost your company directly but all adds up to big value for your employees.

Working from home productivity questions

18. Do you have what you need (i.e. space, set-up, internet) to continue being effective while working remotely?

Find out how your employees are set up while working from home, you need to know what’s going on in their workspace if you want to be able to supply them with what they need.

19. Are you able to work productively in your remote-work environment?

It’s not only about their set-up working from home might mean extra pressures from the home environment like navigating home duties while you work or other disruptions by family members. Do we all remember the case of Professor Robert Kelly? 

20. What is something our company can do to better support you while working remotely?

Sometimes it’s best to just ask directly: “What is something that we can do as a company to support our employees at homes?”. Giving your employees the chance to tell you directly how you can support them should be what the employee satisfaction surveys are about.

5 Tips for conducting employee happiness surveys

While the employee happiness survey is a critical component in benchmarking the level of employee satisfaction from year to year. It, in itself, is not the end game.

An employee survey has no hope of influencing employee engagement if you do not act on the results.

Here are our five tips to help make your employee happiness surveys really count.

1. Ask the right questions

As a rule, a short survey is a good survey. How many questions you ask depends on your company and what you do.

But you should focus your employee happiness survey questions around key areas such as:

  • Management and leadership
  • Manager-employee-co-worker interaction
  • Alignment of individual goals with business goals
  • Recognition

You need to ask enough questions to get a good handle on employee sentiment and morale, but you don’t want the survey to be too onerous for employees to complete.

2. Ask a number of open-ended questions

It’s important to encourage your employees to express their true feelings and opinions without repercussions. So, anonymity is crucial.

Asking open-ended questions in your employee happiness survey allows you to draw out golden nuggets of information that you just can’t elicit with a standard rating question.

3. Communicate the value for employees

Your employees may think completing the survey is a chore and a waste of time if they see no perceived value. For your employees to see the value, they need to believe that you’ll action the responses and bring about positive change where necessary.

4. Report the survey results and your plan of action

Announce the results of your employee happiness survey to your employee and be sure to let them know how you plan to respond to that feedback and what changes are going to be made.

More importantly, make sure to follow through on it and regularly communicate the progress.

5. Conduct surveys frequently

There is no doctrine that stipulates you can only run employee surveys once a year. In fact, you really should measure company culture at least once a quarter.

As long as you’re only asking a few questions, you publish the results, you act on the feedback, and there’s clear value to your employees, you can conduct surveys more frequently.

Act on the responses to your employee surveys

Naturally, to get the most out of your employee work happiness surveys, make sure they’re easy to complete, publish them on a regular basis and only ever ask the right questions. Using some or all of the happiness survey questions we’ve provided is sure to help you do that.

But, for employee surveys to be effective, you have to take action.

Far too many businesses simply focus on measuring engagement without acting on the responses.

Remember, the worst thing you can do with your employee happiness survey is to ask for feedback and then do nothing with it.

Ready to get started with your happiness survey? Employment Hero’s custom survey feature can help. Try out our system today by reaching out to one of our business specialists.

Download now

Engaging Employees: A Competitive Differentiator

Alex Hattingh
Chief People Officer - Employment Hero
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