How to Build an Effective Employee Engagement Survey (with no fuss!)

As you will expect, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to an employee engagement survey so please don’t confuse what I am trying to do here. This article is aimed at all of you who have been thinking about pulling a survey together but haven’t quite got around to it or possibly don’t even know where to start! This article will hopefully give you the platform on which to get the ball rolling, leaving you with the job to fill in the gaps with company specific detail that only you and your stakeholders will be privy to.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement can mean different things to different people, but the most common misconception is that employee satisfaction is the same as employee engagement. This is an easy assumption to make, but it is also a very dangerous assumption to make. A satisfied employee does not necessarily mean an engaged employee – but an engaged employee will ordinarily be more than likely to be satisfied. By conducting a survey, you will be measuring how dedicated your employees are to the mission and performance of your company – do they feel invested in your company’s success?

Why do we need an Employee Engagement Survey?

Can you afford not to? There have been several studies in recent years, none more important than Gallup’s “The Engaged Workplace” which delivered an outstanding insight into the importance of employee engagement. Their studies concluded that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged whilst those companies with a highly engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Companies that can move past the traditional tick the box satisfaction surveys to create a genuine arena for culture of development can put themselves in a very strong position when it comes capitalising on their human capital strategy.

The Employee Engagement Survey

Common Employee Engagement Survey Definitions

To ensure uniformity throughout your employee engagement survey it is advisable to set out common survey definitions and to ensure these definitions are clear to your employees, after all, you need to make sure the answers to these questions need to be applicable to be actionable i.e:

  • This Company – refers to the company as a whole, including offshore offices etc
  • My Team – this is the group of people you share your immediate manager with
  • My Manager – this is the person you will report into on a daily basis
  • The Leadership – this is your MD / CEO / Decision Makers in the more senior positions

The Answer Scale

It is extremely important that we can check answers against set parameters. The general rule of thumb here, like many other surveys – especially digitally prepared is to attribute a 5 point scale. Most of your answers should be able to fit into the following scale detailed below:

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Agree
  3. Neither Agree or Disagree
  4. Disagree
  5. Strongly Disagree

Identify your Drivers of Engagement

Drivers of Engagement are outside influences that can affect an employee’s engagement so should form the nucleus of any employee engagement survey. The following list is in no way exhaustive, but most companies have at least 80-90% of the following drivers so I think it serves as a good platform on which to build your questions.

  • Career progression – Are there genuine opportunities for employees to climb the career ladder?
  • Communication – Do you get full transparency from your company and the senior leadership team? Are you being listened to?
  • Leadership – Do you believe the company is being led in the right direction?
  • Management – Do you believe in your management team?
  • Recognition – Do people believe they are being appreciated for the job they do
  • Remuneration – Do people feel they are being fairly compensated?
  • Tools – Do you have the correct tools and tech to do your job properly?
  • Training & Development – Do people believe they have the correct training to do their job? Are people being encouraged to learn new skills?

Design your Survey

This is the exciting part. By using the drivers above alongside some general engagement questions, you should be ready to go. However please bear in mind the following points, we don’t want to lose interest before we’ve started!

  1. Keep the survey short, max 10 mins long to complete – we don’t want the guys to lose interest and turn it into a tick the box exercise.
  2. Around each driver you are going to focus on, ask at least 3 questions. We want to make sure that we are ensuring an answer is genuine, it’s OK to include a bit of repetition in your questions to make sure the responses you get line up (see our examples further down).
  3. Bespoke the questions where applicable to the specific detail of your company and culture – the deeper you can probe into the intricacies of your business the more useful the exercise will be.

Example Questions

Please find below some example questions that will hopefully put you on the right road to building out your Employee Engagement Survey. Feel free to use them but also be aware that the maximum return on your investment will only come if you’re being specific to your own company and it’s particular journey. Remember the reasons why you have embarked upon this task / journey in the first place.

Career Progression

  1. There are good opportunities at this company for career progression
  2. I am fully aware of the opportunities that exist for my personal development
  3. The company rewards and promotes based upon performance


  1. I am encouraged to communicate freely with managers and my team to raise issues and to discuss new ideas
  2. I am fully aware of the strategy of the company and the lines of communication with the Leadership team are clear, concise and two way
  3. I am always kept in the loop when it comes to changing policy or practice within my team


  1. I have full confidence in this company’s leadership team
  2. I fully respect the decisions of this company’s leadership team over the last 12 months
  3. I have an excellent relationship with this company’s leadership team


  1. My management team support and help me develop as an employee
  2. My management team deal with unacceptable performance in the correct manner
  3. My management team deliver what has been promised consistently


  1. I receive positive praise when I complete a task well
  2. My manager will always ensure that Leadership are made aware when I go over and above in terms of performance
  3. My team will always recognise where I have performed well


  1. I am compensated fairly for the job that I do
  2. I believe that the benefits package I receive is consummate to similar opportunities elsewhere
  3. My remuneration is discussed regularly via appraisals and salary reviews


  1. I am provided with all the relevant tools in order to do my job to the best of my ability
  2. This company invests heavily in latest technology and resource to allow us to excel in our role
  3. Leadership will always listen to ideas from their employees regarding new tools & ideas

Training & Development

  1. This company regard Training & Development as a key driver for all employees
  2. I have received all the necessary Training & development to be successful at this job
  3. This company will always listen to ideas of how we can become better and will invest in outsourced training

Use the information

So there you have it – simple right? Well to be honest, yes. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out affair, it also shouldn’t be just a one off. You may believe you are a fantastic manager or senior leader, that you work for one of the best companies around with an awesome culture, great benefits and unparalleled career opportunities, but do your employees think this? If the answer to this is you don’t know then that unfortunately means that you aren’t the greatest manager – well not yet anyway! The best Bosses are the ones who always have their finger on the pulse, starting with their workforce. They understand the importance of keeping their employees engaged and understand that they need help / information to help them drive decision and strategy. The Employee Engagement Survey is an excellent place to start and hopefully this article has helped you get the ball rolling.

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