Effective Practices for Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee engagement has been dropping for the past few years. The management consulting firm Gallup reports engagement is at its lowest level in a decade.

When employee engagement suffers, so do organizational well-being, job satisfaction, retention, safety, customer relations, productivity and profitability.

Employee surveys can help you identify engagement challenges and opportunities. But you need the right questions, timing and feedback, and a comprehensive strategy, according to the industry news site BenefitsPRO.

Questions, timing and feedback

The first step to crafting an effective engagement survey is to frame it through the lens of collaboration and transparency. Never criticize or punish an individual for their feedback. Explain to employees that the survey is a joint effort to improve your organization.

But don’t focus solely on the negative. Surveys can also capture positive trends that enhance morale and workplace culture.

Once you’ve framed your survey as a partnership, the next step is to strategize your questions, timing and feedback.


Survey content must be relevant and valuable to employees. The design should be visually appealing and easy to use. The experience management firm Qualtrics recommends concise questions free of jargon and complicated wording. If necessary, define potentially ambiguous terms such as “your team,” “your manager” and “senior leadership.” Definitions ensure employees answer questions with a consistent frame of reference, notes Qualtrics.

Open-ended questions encourage employees to provide personal insights. More detailed answers can help you identify successes, problems and solutions more effectively.

Examples of open-ended questions include:

  • When do you feel most satisfied at work?
  • Does our company demonstrate appreciation for you and your contributions?
  • What is one solution that would immediately benefit your role?
  • Are there specific ways our organization can communicate better?
  • How would you enhance the work environment?

While open-ended questions help employees feel heard, don’t make every question mandatory. Allow employees to skip questions irrelevant to their roles or needs. This technique will increase survey participation and completion rates.


Employees are often pressed for time. They are less likely to participate when surveys are too frequent or too long. Consolidate questions and simplify the process whenever possible.

Surveys with 10 or more questions should only be sent once or twice a year. Shorter surveys of three to five questions can be sent more often, perhaps quarterly or monthly, notes the engagement survey platform Quantum Workplace. But their relevance and purpose should always be clear. Use these surveys to capture employee insights on current trends, workplace changes or organizational challenges.


Demonstrate a willingness to listen to employees and act on their recommendations. Employees are more likely to engage with surveys when they feel like a valued part of the process, reports Quantum Workplace.

Share survey results and next steps. Regularly communicate action plans and progress based on survey results and employee feedback.

Regular check-ins and transparent communications

Once you’ve crafted your approach to questions, timing and feedback, fold it into a larger strategy that includes supervisor check-ins and company communications.


Supervisor check-ins provide another avenue for capturing employee solutions. These conversations can complement surveys, letting employees expand on their thoughts and receive immediate feedback. These one-on-one conversations can also be a way to gather feedback from employees who don’t participate in surveys or feel more comfortable speaking with a manager.

Train supervisors to conduct open and productive conversations. By fostering trust, respect and collaboration, they can enhance your company culture and relay valuable information on employee engagement.


Company communications must be transparent and authentic. BenefitsPRO reports 40% of employees doubt the transparency of their employers. Those doubts will undermine your surveys and engagement efforts.

Provide frequent updates on company news and business results. Talk about your culture and your employees’ role in your success. Quickly address rumors and external reports on your company or leadership.

In addition to supervisor check-ins, regularly hold all-staff meetings and provide anonymous chat platforms.

All-staff meetings should review priorities and progress on employee-identified issues. Remember to include time for questions and comments.

Confidential platforms let employees freely discuss issues and improvements. Their comments can help you discover what’s working and what you can improve. With high engagement, these platforms can reduce the number of formal surveys you need to deploy.

More information

For more insights into employee engagement surveys, reach out to our Human Resources Consulting team. They can help you examine best practices for survey frequency, relevant questions and feedback. They can also identify training solutions to inform supervisor check-ins and company communications.

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