Employee Survey

Seven Questions to Ask Your Team

We have all been a contributor to annual employee satisfaction surveys, and for the most part, they haven’t changed much over the years. While there is greater acceptance of a mixed approach to leverage pulse surveys as well as annual surveys, the line of questioning has generally remained the same. But should you be asking different questions?

Workplace culture has been evolving over the last decade, with even the largest companies trying to break down the traditional “corporate” environment to foster a more innovative culture in order to compete for talent. We should focus our efforts in determining if we are cultivating the culture we want and that requires asking employee satisfaction questions a little differently.

Here, I present seven questions that you should be asking, whether through your annual employee survey or through pulse surveys. I think they help represent a different mindset from management and will illicit insightful feedback from your teams.

1. Are you having fun at work?
We now spend more than a third of our day at or on work with many team members spending more than that. But that doesn’t mean we should be suffering. Work should be fun in order to bring out everyone’s best effort and talent. Ask this question to gain insight into whether you’re effective in aligning the right opportunities for the right talent. 

2. Do you feel the management team is transparent?
Transparency is highly coveted these days, with millennials leading the charge in asking for brands to be authentic and management to be transparent. What this means is the desire to understand why tasks are being assigned. If you are successful in creating transparency, you have a higher chance of retaining key talent and creating an open culture. So while you may think you are being transparent, how are the employees perceiving management?

3. How comfortable are you to give feedback to your manager?
Transparency flows both ways and it’s important to understand whether middle management has created a culture of fear or openness. Check-in to see if there are managers that need coaching and encouragement to reflect the openness that you are creating at the top. Employees should be comfortable providing constructive feedback to their supervisors in order to maximize operations and customer service.

4. What three words would you use to describe our culture?
While this is an open-ended question, it’s a true reflection of how your team members perceive the workplace. By asking employees to put culture in “their own words,” we reflect on whether there is alignment to company values as well as how culture is actually embodied in our front line teams. Oftentimes, what we think we are encouraging is actually not what is being heard.

5. What would be your number one reason for leaving?
Employee satisfaction surveys often ask how satisfied employees are with benefits, pay, training, etc. But what is the ONE thing they would leave for? While compensation naturally ranks high, you may be surprised at what is really driving attrition amongst your staff. Insights here should lead organizations to think hard about what can be done to address the cause and how much resource to allocate.

6. If you could do it all over again, would you re-apply for the job you have now?
When I first came across this question, I was a little surprised. Why would we want to know if they would apply for the same job? Interestingly, it’s a great way to gain insight into how job perception and reality line up. This relates to our first suggestion question above, but asks whether the job description and hiring process provided the best match of skills and desire with the opportunity. If you “sell” a job the wrong way, it ends up costing the company more in the long run due to unhappy workers and lower productivity.

7. How likely are you to refer someone to work here?
No surprise here, but I think it’s important enough to include this as a reflection of how the organization as a whole is perceived. With outlets like GlassDoor and LinkedIn, it’s hard to hide just what your employees think, so why not address the issue head-on? It’s important to know whether your current team members are having enough fun, seeing growth opportunities and being managed appropriately to recommend their friends come work with them. It’s truly the ultimate measure of support for your organization as a whole.

While these seven questions are not the only questions to ask, I suggest organizations incorporate some of these into their annual survey or use them in pulse surveys to keep tabs on trends. The workplace has evolved challenges the way we build company culture and respond to employee concerns. Keep evolving your feedback mechanisms to keep an open dialogue with your team members, especially the front line teams.