Employee Satisfaction Surveys

– The Ultimate Guide:



In this resource guide:

  1. An Introduction to Employee Satisfaction Surveys
  2. Employee Satisfaction Surveys – Key Things To Remember
  3. Five Things You Need To Include In Your Employee Satisfaction Survey For Best Results
  4. Three Ways In Which An Employee Satisfaction Survey Can Bring Value To Your Business
  5. Critical Success Factors For Your Next Employee Satisfaction Survey
  6. Why Employees Ignore Satisfaction Surveys – And What You Can Do About It
  7. Employee Satisfaction Statistics and Favourite Quotes
  8. Employee Satisfaction Surveys – Key Questionnaire Content Areas
  9. Employee Satisfaction Videos Worth Watching
  10. Employee Satisfaction Infographic

A key aspect to improving employee satisfaction and retention is ensuring your company values are attractive to both prospective and current staff.

You need to ask a simple question: why would people want to work for my company and be motivated to produce their best work?

Although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee retention, two things that are common approaches amongst companies with above average staff retention rates are a dedication to innovation and dedication to their employees.

These companies attempt to break the traditional ’employee satisfaction’ path of performance reviews and pay rises, and instead pursue an innovative, creative, forward-thinking culture.

Regular ‘Pulse surveys’ in these firms are frequent and help management to stay up to date with employee satisfaction levels. Making small subtle changes that are highly focused can help to make a big impact on satisfaction levels. Traditional once a year employee engagement surveys are no longer enough. “Sustainable engagement” is a key element of making sure your employees are not only satisfied but also engaged. It’s not just about making staff happy – the focus has shifted to encouraging their emotional, physical, and social well-being. Research also suggests employees get that energy and well-being from having a strong sense of purpose.

As such, true engagement comes from getting to know your employees and their real ambitions and motivations.

So what types of low-cost satisfaction and engagement initiatives could you implement in your workplace?

The breath of opportunities may surprise you.

If asked in the right way, and the best suggestions visibly actioned, employees will not be backward in offering a steady flow of ideas for workforce improvement. From simple suggestions such as office pot plants to brighten the mood to more elaborate concepts for driving efficiencies and process improvements.

All you have to do is start the conversation.

So if you find that there are altogether too many knowing glances going on in staff meetings, too many conversations that hush up as soon as senior management walk into the staff room, and too many unexplained dips in performance, morale or profits, then it’s probably time to do an employee satisfaction survey.

Our hope is that the content that follows helps ensure that your efforts are optimised.


Employee Satisfaction Surveys – Key Things To Remember:


  • Make sure your employees feel safe, supported, comfortable and respected throughout the feedback process.
  • Ask your employees about their ambitions – even if they are already excelling in their job.
    • Give them opportunities to explore those ambitions
  • Keep the survey short and to the point. Only ask what really matters – the content must be relevant.
  • Check in with your employees often – if you wait too long to ask for feedback you could miss something important while it was still top of mind. (This will also help keep your surveys shorter). Once a year is no longer enough.
  • Don’t wait to do something with the results. Start implementing now.
  • Make sure senior management is on board. A better understanding of your employees makes for a better work environment.
  • Share a summary of your key results and promote your successes after implementing employee-led ideas. That way staff will continue to stay engaged in your future feedback initiatives.


Five things you need to include in your employee satisfaction survey for best results:

  1. Assurance of anonymity: Staff are far more likely to give honest answers if you can assure them their individual responses will remain strictly confidential.
  2. Let them know what will happen: If staff have some idea of where the information is going and how it is likely to be used, they may be more motivated to answer your survey.
  3. Give staff troubleshooting advice and contact details: In a world where staff are connecting with multiple devices and different browsers, issues can occur. If the survey is not working, staff must be told what measures they can take to fix it so they can provide you with useful answers, or who they can contact for help.
  4. Communicate results: If you let staff know the results and actions of past surveys, they may have confidence that they are being listened to and that their thoughts are valued. Regularly undertaking surveys will give you a better idea of the bigger picture and can give you an indication on how well any implemented changes are working to improve company morale and measure if your staff are happier as a result of your post survey initiatives.
  5. Benchmark: Use the data collected in the past to contrast the results you achieve from the current survey and see if your staff is any happier. If your staff are aware you are making tangible efforts to ensure they are kept happy, they may feel more positively about their workplace.


Three ways in which an employee satisfaction survey can bring value to your business:

  1. Targeted insight – No one knows your company better than those who are there five days a week, eight hours a day – when asked for their insight and ideas your staff will undoubtedly offer some great ideas for improvement.
  2. The bottom line – It is expensive to hire and train new staff – keep staff turnover to a minimum by ensuring your engagement levels remain high.
  3. Positive word of mouth – With the added scope of online engagement and regular social networking, it is all but impossible to fly under the radar. Happy employees lead to positive reviews on employer reviews sites such as GlassDoor.com. Evidence also suggests that happy employees lead to happy customers too.


Critical success factors for your next employee satisfaction survey:

  • You need to have Courage and Commitment. Courage to be told there is something wrong and the Commitment to do something to fix it.
  • Running a survey creates expectations from the employees. It is imperative that you manage these expectations and communicate clearly the reasons for the survey and what you plan to do with the results.
  • More is definitely not better. Keep the survey content relevant and manageable. Too many questions can produce an overbearing amount of data leaving your management team unable to effectively analyse and implement.
  • Face-to-face administration yields higher participation levels while Internet administration is faster and cheaper. Either way it is vital that everyone gets a consistent message as to why the survey is being conducted and what will happen with the collected results.
  • Present the data collected in a way that enables them to make sense of the report without becoming a ‘survey expert’. Use user-friendly tools and provide usefully formatted data. Also ensure that you are not providing stale information which has little to no value. The time between the survey and the return of the results should be kept to a minimum. No more than a month.
  • To be able to measure results over time you must commit to periodically resurveying the staff periodically. An annual cycle is generally an acceptable interval; if there is existence of some significant internal events an earlier resurvey could be beneficial.


Why Employees Ignore Satisfaction Surveys – And What You Can Do About It:

3 Common Flaws-

  1. Survey Weariness:
    • Surveys are too long
    • The drives behind the survey arenot explained to employees
    • Incentives that harm the results instead of helping them
  2. Too Much Time Between Drinks:
    • Survey once a year or even less is leaving too much time for issues to go unaddressed
    • Results need to be acquired and analysed quickly – plans need to be implemented
  3. Senior Managment:
    • If you don’t plan on using the results to change; don’t conduct a survey
    • Conducting one survey as a once off is not enough

Fixing the Flaws-

  1. Help Employees Excel
    • Pre-plan the survey questions and anticipate ways to implement results
    • Explain the value of the survey – get staff involved in some of the decisions around which ideas to implement
  2. Improving Frequency
    • Check in with your employees frequently
    • Don’t leave issues unresolved
  3. Less Questions = Higher Response Rate
    • Make sure questions have purpose
    • Keep things informal and relaxed
    • Keep content relevant


Employee Satisfaction Statistics and Favourite Quotes:

–> 26% of the working population is typically engaged (loyal and productive), 55% are not engaged (just putting in time), and 19% are actively disengaged (unhappy and spreading their discontent). Couple these discouraging statistics with the cost of staff turnover, estimated by Mercer to be between 50% to 150% of annual salary depending on the role and level of seniority and it quickly becomes apparent why employee engagement is topical: the lack of it is hurting employers on the bottom line.

Only 26% of the working population is typically engaged (loyal and productive) Click To Tweet

–> 84% of Best-in-class organisations in this study indicate they have a process in place to identify high potential employees, as compared to 67% of all other organisations. – Arberdeen  Group – The Engagement / Performance Equation, July 2011

–> The Human Resources Corporate Leadership Council found that increasing an employee’s level of engagement could potentially improve performance by 20 percent and reduce the employee’s probability of departure by a whopping 87 percent!

–> Gallup research shows that organisations with engaged employees deliver:

27 per cent higher profits,
50 per cent higher sales,
50 per cent higher customer loyalty, and
38 per cent above-average productivity

Source: Wagner, Rodd and James K. Harter, 2006, PhD, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, New York: Gallup Press.

Gallup research shows that organisations with engaged employees deliver 27% higher profits Click To Tweet

–> “In a workplace study, conducted by Lawrence Lindhal, that’s been repeated every decade since the 1940s, managers state that employees want job security, good wages and opportunities for advancement. Meanwhile, employees report that, first and foremost, they want to be recognized, feel informed and believe they are working in meaningful jobs.” – Source: Worldatwork.org

–> “Companies that utilised an effective employee recognition program enjoyed a 109% three-year median return to shareholders vs. a 52% return for those companies that did not.” Source: Watson Wyatt Study of 3 million employees, as quoted  in Forbes magazine (2004)

–> The Retention and Engagement Drivers Report


Source: http://www.keepem.com/doc_files/Ret_Drivers_Report_081204(ext).pdf

–> High Performers – how much value are they worth to you?

Almost all organizations quantify the contribution individuals engaged in sales make to the company. They know that above average performers generate more sales than average performers. McKinsey, in their Talent War 2000 study, has also documented this. Those surveyed by McKinsey were asked to assess how much more a high performer in a P&L position generates than a middle performer. They estimated the difference at 49%, and they said that the high performer should be paid 42% more. When you think about what 49% means, it is astounding. That means a high performer brings in almost twice as much business as an average performer or produces twice as much. If you as a recruiter could identify potential high performers, how much more respect would you get? How much better would your reputation be? – ‘Defining Talent in 5 Steps’, By Kevin Wheeler.

–> Employee Attrition Could Affect 40% of Your Profits: On average, attrition costs companies 18 months’ salary for each manager or professional who leaves, and 6 months’ pay for each hourly employee who leaves. This amounts to major organizational and financial stress, considering that one out of every three employees plans to leave his or her job in the next two years, according to a study completed by Ipsos-Reid. In a company with 250 employees earning an average annual salary of $35,000 each, standard attrition rates (14% for clerical workers, 12.5% for professionals and 5.5% among managers) collectively cost more than $1 million per year. If this same company has annual revenues of $25 million and an average profit margin of 10%, this attrition loss would represent 4% of total revenues – and 40% of profits.Source: http://www.peoplefirstsolutions.com/resources/reports/pfs_cost_of_attrition.pdf

On average, staff attrition costs companies 18 mths salary for each professional who leaves Click To Tweet


Employee Satisfaction Surveys – Key Questionnaire Content Areas:

  •  Profiling Data: Age, Gender, State, Location/Site
    • Gender- Male / Female
  • Section 1: Leadership And Planning: Rate your level of agreement
    • I have confidence in the Senior Management of this organisation
  • Section 2: Your Manager: Rate your level of agreement
    • My manager communicates clearly and frequently with me
  • Section 3: Your Job And Your Job Satisfaction: Rate your level of agreement
    • I have sufficient opportunities for personal growth and professional growth
  • Section 4: Our Work Place Culture And Communications: Rate your level of agreement
    • It is safe to speak up and challenge the way things are done at [ORGANISATION]
  • Section 5: Motivation, Commitment, And Empowerment: Rate your level of agreement
    • I would recommend my organisation to a friend, associate or acquaintance seeking employment
  • Section 6: Your Team / Colleagues: Rate your level of agreement
    • In the workplace my co-workers give due respect to my thoughts and feelings
  • Section 7: Training / Career Development: Rate your level of agreement
    • I understand the career development opportunities within my organisation
  • Section 8: Recognition And Rewards: Rate your level of satisfaction
    • Amount of vacation (or paid time off)
  • Section 9: Resources, Technology And Your Work Environment: Rate your level of agreement
    • I have access to the right tools and resources to perform my best
  • Section10: Work / Life Balance: Rate your level of agreement
    • I am able to maintain an appropriate and healthy balance between my work and my personal commitments
  • Section 11: Diversity And Inclusion / Equal Opportunity: Rate your level of agreement
    • I think my organisation respects individual differences (e.g. cultures, working styles, backgrounds, ideas)
  • Section 12: Final Thoughts: Rating scales, Radio Button Questions, Free text
    • Considering everything, I am satisfied with this organisation at the present time


Employee Satisfaction – Videos Worth Watching:

The X model:

— How to build a more engaged workforce – it takes goals, values and a clear strategy. You must find the balance between maximum satisfaction for employees and maximum contribution to the company.

The X model:

Leaders – How to engage your team & create a culture of engagement:

— Do you know how engaged your employees are? Learn how to drive results and find your employees ‘hot buttons’. Create strategies and make your staff feel special.


Employee Satisfaction Infographic:

Employee Satisfaction Infographic 2
Employee Satisfaction Infographic


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