Employee Engagement

Importance of an employee satisfaction survey

by Betty Griffith | Employee Engagement | 07 June, 2018
7 min read
If you’re getting honest responses, you’ll surely be getting a few negative ones. But don’t worry, even negative responses will give you essential data which can prove to be the key to improving your working environment and give you better results. Satisfied employees are productive employees.

Employee satisfaction is a huge metric that companies big and small have to manage if they want to continuously maintain and improve their office’s morale. As with anything in business, without a way to measure employee satisfaction, there is no way to properly improve or manage it. Susan M. Heathfield wrote for The Balance "When a satisfaction survey is used at specific intervals, such as annually, an employer can track employee satisfaction over time to see if it is improving". 

Importance of an employee satisfaction survey

Before You Start Building

When you build an employee satisfaction survey and share it with your employees, it’s important that you make it clear that they will not be penalized for honesty and that they will, in fact, be encouraged to share honest feedback. Making an open culture of feedback and honesty will contribute to your working environment in itself, and it will ensure the results you get on your survey are accurate. It helps if you ensure your employees that their feedback will be anonymous and used only to improve general employee satisfaction, with the ultimate goal to further your business from which all of involved will benefit - managers and employees alike.

How to build your survey to get honest responses

When you’re making a survey, it’s good to know some tips about how to make a good survey, but it’s crucial to make a short but solid introduction that’s to the point, and clearly expresses what you want to achieve. A good introduction is also the best way to connect with your employees to whom you are sending your survey, and making them feel that their opinion is really important and listened to, so they are inclined to participate. Introduction should also be interesting enough to hold the attention of your employees so they don’t just dismiss it, but are inclined to answer your questions.

Good introduction gets you a long way

In the introduction, make it clear that you are doing the survey to improve employee satisfaction, and highlight that you greatly value the feedback you get from your employees. The wording you choose to do so with depends on the kind of a business you are running and the scale of your project or corporation, but it’s important that employees feel important, that their opinions are heard and that they have value for the firm.

The best way to go about it is to instil a sense of family or affiliation, help your employees feel like they are a part of your business instead of just working for you, and that their work is appreciated.

Establish key areas and tone of your questions

Before you start making a survey about employee satisfaction, you have to establish key areas you are interested in to get feedback from your employees, and they shouldn’t be vague, but clearly defined. It’s also important to establish the general tone with which you’ll accomplish the best connection and responses. You can opt to go anywhere between really relaxed and simple questions with a hint of humor, with colloquial words that would make a certain targeted group feel more at ease and directly communicated to; or if you’re working in a more office-strict environment, you’d probably go with a more formal and elaborate type of address.

What questions to ask

First questions one would think to ask are “how are you satisfied with your salary” or “how satisfied are you with your working hours and environment”. But there’s much more about employee satisfaction and how much they feel that they are involved with the firm or a project. Here are a few questions to think about:

  • How much do you know about company’s strategy
  • How well was company’s strategy communicated to you
  • How much do you feel that you’re attributing to company’s strategy
  • How much involved do you feel you are with the company’s strategy
  • How well does your superior communicate your tasks to you, and their importance
  • How well does your superior respond to your suggestions
  • How often do you have a chance to communicate your suggestions
  • Do you feel your work is noticed and validated
  • Do you think that you can communicate your work issues at any time with your superior (“my doors are always open” policy)
  • Do you think your attribution is awarded adequately (pay raise, free days, payed education, public acknowledgment etc)

How to ask the right questions

It’s worth your time to think your questions through before you create your survey, and in a way that makes your employees feel you care about their work and their time. For example, instead of asking “Do you think you work too much”, you can ask “Do you feel your working hours are limiting your time with your family”. In that way you get the answers you need, and also show appreciation for your employees’ free and family time.

How many questions are needed

You have to think about how many questions are enough, and how many are too many. It’s an important step, and often overlooked. If your survey is not interesting enough, both with questions asked and visual appeal, and it’s also too long, you’ll find that you’ll have a lot of respondents just skim through and select the middle answer (if 1 is “I don’t like it”, and 10 is “I think it’s brilliant!”, you’ll have most respondents answering 5 “I neither like it or dislike it”).

Positive Responses

Positive responses are just as useful as negative responses. By sending out an employee-wide survey, you’ll be able to see many trends. Do people in a certain area work more productively than others? Do people near the break room experience more distractions? Do client-facing staff like or dislike their position? Positive responses will give you a huge amount of data that you can take action on.

When you receive a positive response from an employee, you can count on improved productivity and reward them for a job well-done. When you receive positive feedback, get back to them and thank them for being a loyal employee. Tell them you’re there to listen if they have follow-up suggestions.

Negative Responses

Inevitably, if you’re getting honest responses, you’ll be getting a few negative responses. This will give you essential data and it will be the key to improving your working environment. What are your employees complaining about? Is a certain area of your office experiencing the most negativity? Is it because employees are working in a certain position or working certain hours?

How to best utilize negative responses

The negative responses will give you truly honest feedback so you can begin improving your office environment. When you receive negative feedback from an employee, you may consider anonymously taking it to the next level - by choosing some concerning responses and sharing them with your entire staff to get feedback, and see if anyone else happens to feel that way, but was maybe afraid to mention it.

When you do this, it’s important you remove names and that you don’t allow your employees to feel attacked, singled out, or punished for giving honest feedback. Honest answers should be rewarded as you see fit (maybe just a pat on the back, a "good work" comment followed by thumbs up, a friendly smile, or something more significant that you think is appropriate). Because satisfied employees boost your buisness and it's in your best interest to keep them satisfied.

Importance of an employee satisfaction survey2


Consider productivity

Negative feedback should be taken openly and seriously. But, one thing you should take into account when you receive negative feedback is the productivity of the employees who responded negatively. Was it just a couple of employees who weren’t performing well or was it an entire department? If it was one or two employees for whom you question the work they do anyway, it’s possible they simply don’t fit the position.

But if it’s many people in your firm, or many of your staff in the same department or position, there are reasons beyond their direct control that you should look into. It’s possible that their tasks and deadlines are not well communicated to them, or they suffer under a poor manager who is lacking in communicational skill and doesn't know how to motivate his/her workers (except by yelling at them, which is seen often, and is as much often counterproductive).

Importance of employee satisfaction

Research published in Harvard Business Review suggests that happier employees are better employees. To make sure your employees feel recognized at work, the most important question to ask is “Are you acknowledged for your good work”. So make sure you spend a little bit of time acknowledging your employees simply by saying “good work”. It will also help you get the best results in your employee satisfaction survey, as they will already feel a level of trust that allows them to be honest.


Employee satisfaction surveys can be a very valuable way to improve your office’s environment. As long as you use the responses productively, you will only see improvement from the survey and the actions you take following the survey.

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Heathfield, S.M. (August 2016). Make Employee Satisfaction Surveys Successful. Retrieved November 5, 2017 form The Balance website: https://www.thebalance.com/employee-satisfaction-1918014