As a small business owner with a lot going on at any given time, it can be easy to miss signs of employee dissatisfaction. But the last thing you need is low morale and high turnover, so it pays to get a pulse on your team. Thoughtful, regular employee engagement surveys can help you do just that.
Your goal should be to gather usable information by asking questions that will provide insight into how to make your business a better place to work. It can be helpful to ask questions of your employees in each of the following categories:
A smaller staff means employees must often juggle multiple tasks and venture into areas outside their comfort zones. Wearing many hats can be exciting, but it can also potentially be exhausting. Likewise, long hours and pressure to do more with less can negatively affect morale. To gauge how individuals are handling such demands, ask questions such as:
- How would you rate your work-life balance on a scale of 1 to 10?
- What word(s) would you use to describe your feelings or mood at the end of most workdays?
- When something unexpected or confusing comes up in your work, do you usually know where to turn for help?
- Which of the following (if any) would you consider helpful for performing your job: time-management training, more consistent feedback, clarification of priorities, flexible work schedule?
- Most of the time, do you feel you have enough information to make good decisions about your work?
- What is your primary source of stress at the office, and what might lessen it?
- If made available, would you participate in an employee wellness program or wellness event?
Opportunity for growth
Employees who cannot envision career advancement at your small business become likely candidates to leave. Judge how much optimism workers have for their future at your company with questions such as:
- Where do you see yourself in one year?
- What types of training or development interest you most?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank the long-term career opportunities at this company?
- How challenged do you feel in your current role?
- How well does your immediate manager coach you on your job performance?
- What additional personal or professional development opportunities would be of interest to you?
Whichever questions you ultimately select for your survey, be prepared to act on what you learn.
Knowledge of your brand
Studies have shown that employees become more engaged when they understand how what they do fits into the company's overall purpose. Similarly, workers who clearly understand your brand can be your best ambassadors for generating excitement among potential customers and prospective hires. Ensure team members do indeed have a firm grasp of operations through questions like:
- Do you have a solid picture of the company's future direction?
- Do you understand how your role contributes to the organization's long-term vision?
- If someone asked you about our brand, how much confidence do you have that your response would be accurate?
- How important do you feel your work is to the company's success?
- Has your role in meeting company objectives been effectively explained?
Maintaining good relationships is necessary when you work in close quarters and depend heavily on co-workers. Bad morale can spread quickly throughout the whole place, taking a toll on the company culture. Feedback generated from these questions provides insight into feelings about the workplace and how well everyone gets along:
- What makes you proud to be a part of this company?
- What two words would you use to describe our workplace's vibe?
- How well does leadership respond to internal issues?
- Do you feel empowered in the workplace?
- How comfortable are you speaking up about problems?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how prominent is office politics in this workplace?
- Do you feel that your immediate co-workers are committed to the organization's goals and vision?
- Do you feel the company is fair and equitable to all employees, regardless of qualities such as race, gender, age, and ethnicity?
- Do you believe the organization's executive-level leaders demonstrate integrity?
- Would you recommend working here to a friend? Why or why not?
Whichever questions you ultimately select for your survey, be prepared to act on what you learn. Asking people how they feel about something and then failing to address problems can create hard feelings, making it unlikely for employees to take future surveys seriously.
After you use these questions to create the best employee engagement survey for your company, commit to analyzing the responses. Your organization may benefit from putting together a team to implement essential improvement suggestions from the feedback you receive. Remember the importance of sharing results from the survey with employees, and keep the conversation going to develop a company culture built on communication, trust, and respect.
Forward-thinking companies recognize the importance of understanding the employee experience and striving to create a positive relationship between the employer and employee. An effective employee engagement survey is a practical way to evaluate this relationship and lay the foundation for positive change.
More information on employee engagement and retention:
Get additional tips on creating an effective employee engagement survey for all business sizes.
Consider creating an employee upskill program to develop your workforce from within (and increase retention).
Build your employer brand with tools like social media and employee benefits to boost recruitment efforts.
Want to go even deeper than the employee engagement survey? Conduct stay interviews with your most talented staff.