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Surveys & Engagement

30 comprehensive employee satisfaction survey questions for effective team insights

Leapsome Team
30 comprehensive employee satisfaction survey questions for effective team insights
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Depending on the sources you consult, you’ll hear varying claims about employee satisfaction. Some research reports that it’s at an all-time high (1), while others say professionals are as stressed as they’ve ever been (2).

This may point to an issue with the research process most companies use to analyze employee satisfaction surveys, or the questionnaires employers use to uncover how content their staff feels at work.

Specifically, it’s common for organizations to misunderstand what satisfaction is and what drives it, rendering their surveys ineffective and their results unhelpful.

In reality, job satisfaction is distinct from engagement — it’s about what employees “get” from their work, like compensation, benefits, flexible work hours, and a sense of belonging. In order to understand why team members feel satisfied or dissatisfied with their workplace, you need to: 

  • Be strategic and intentional about how you conduct surveys
  • Ask questions specific to the factors that actually drive satisfaction 
  • Take action based on your findings

To provide you with a more concrete approach for revamping your own employee satisfaction surveys, we talked to three experienced people managers and leaders who helped us explore what factors truly affect satisfaction. We also researched and compiled a list of meaningful survey questions and best practices you can implement to help you get honest, actionable feedback.

1. The Conference Board, 2023

2. Gallup, 2023

⚾ Discover what satisfaction drivers hit home for your employees

Leapsome segments survey results based on where your company does well and where it needs to improve.

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How employee satisfaction surveys can benefit your organization

Employee satisfaction surveys are valuable because they uncover the level of contentment that team members have with their positions and the workplace in general. This is vital information for HR teams to collect, as job satisfaction has a strong impact on how employees function at work.

Indeed, HR professional Milica Radojević points out that satisfaction surveys “help measure the success and outcomes of the initiatives we put in place.” However, she also emphasizes that “employee satisfaction is a lagging indicator,” which means it’s a measure of what’s already happened. 

Therefore, keep in mind that outcomes won’t present themselves fully in surveys right away. Generally, the human resources initiatives we implement won’t show results in the next survey we run. Maybe not even in the one after,” says Milica. “A meaningful change in satisfaction scores takes time. Think of implementing a long-term leadership development program — it’ll take time before the business starts to see benefits and a return from this investment.”

Yet, even though you won’t see the impact your strategies have immediately, satisfaction surveys are crucial to determining the success of your initiatives. “If what we’re doing is designed to address employees’ specific problems and needs, it’ll most definitely have an impact on the scores,” says Radojević.

Elsewhere, a 2016 academic study by economics professor Danica Bakotić proposed that job satisfaction determines organizational performance, not the other way around. Dissatisfaction can also be a strong predictor of burnout, according to a 2008 academic study published by the Croatian Medical Journal, illustrating just how critical satisfaction surveys are to improving the employee experience.

”Employee satisfaction surveys help me as a people leader to understand how our team is feeling about their work, their leaders, and the company as a whole. This information is invaluable for us to drive decisions to make our team environment more positive, effective, and productive (which, ultimately, is what everyone wants).

It’s really common for companies to experience peaks and troughs in their performance, engagement, etc., but having a routine of surveying can help us stay on top of real-time sentiment and adapt our leadership and business communication to make sure employees feel listened to, increase their ownership, and feel empowered.”

Lea Schmidt, Talent Lead at Humaans

Employee satisfaction: Contributing factors & how it relates to engagement

An infographic illustrating eight factors that influence employee satisfaction
To avoid missing any crucial data, consider a wide range of factors when drafting questions for employee satisfaction surveys

When assessing satisfaction, organizations need to think about what employees want from their jobs. These might include:

  • Monetary benefits, like your compensation and benefits package, bonuses, incentives, merit increases, stipends, stock options, and retirement plans.
  • Non-monetary benefits, like paid time off (PTO), childcare options, flexible working hours, and volunteer opportunities.
  • A healthy company culture that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion and creates an environment where employees can thrive.
  • Growth and development opportunities, which allow individuals to grow personally and professionally, even if they leave the organization.
  • Appreciation and recognition that’s specific and focused on helping team members improve and enjoy their work experience.

In addition, it’s important to remember that employee satisfaction and engagement are separate concepts, even if they share many of the same contributing factors. Employee engagement is about individuals being driven by the connection they feel with the work. On the other hand, employee satisfaction is about how closely aligned someone’s job and organization are with their personal career goals and preferred work environment. To understand the difference between satisfaction and engagement more clearly, consider the following example.

Perhaps you like your team, you think the salary is good, and you’re happy with the career progression you’re being offered in your role. In that case, you’re satisfied with your job but not necessarily engaged with it. Being engaged is more about feeling connected with your work and feeling closely aligned with the wider company purpose.

Still, there’s an overlap between the concepts, which is why engagement and satisfaction metrics are often similar. Indeed, the same factors that impact engagement also influence satisfaction. These are elements like:

  • Work-life balance, which is the idea that the personal and professional aspects of people’s lives can peacefully intersect and coexist, especially as the rise of remote work blurs these boundaries.

  • A sense of belonging. As Radojević points out: “It’s easy to leave a job, but we tend to be loyal to our communities. Especially when times are tough, we often stick with the group of people we can identify and associate with. Meaningful connections, knowing we can be our authentic selves — that’s what makes work more enjoyable.” Indeed, Gallup found that having close work friendships can boost employee satisfaction by 50% and make individuals 7x more likely to fully engage in their work.
  • Respect and autonomy, which allow employees to feel confident in their ability to work independently.
A screenshot of a community poll on Leapsome’s People Over Perks Slack community.
When we polled HR and people ops professionals in our People Over Perks Slack community about factors that influence job satisfaction,
respondents agreed that work-life balance and compensation were two of the most important elements

6 signs you need to survey employee satisfaction

While you should run satisfaction surveys regularly — “at least bi-annually,” says Radojević — there are times when it’s best to conduct them on an ad hoc basis. “There are certain milestones that are important to consider — measuring satisfaction of new employees after two to three months on the job or measuring the satisfaction of a team that has a new manager after a few months. If you wait for a recurrent survey in these cases, it can be too late to catch issues early on.”

Along with surveying employees at key milestones, it may be time to do so when:

  • You experience a dramatic increase in turnover in a short time period. If, for example, turnover goes from 17% to 22% in six months, you want to immediately identify the issues and make changes.
  • Productivity and performance levels decrease. For example, you may notice your average assessment scores going down across several different teams.
  • Managers start to receive more feedback about stress levels, burnout, and challenging team dynamics.
  • You notice an increase in instances of anonymous yet unfavorable reports from employees.
  • Your company goes through a drastic change, such as a reduction in force (RIF), a merger, or an acquisition.

30 employee satisfaction survey questions

A screenshot of survey results on Leapsome’s Surveys dashboard.
Leapsome’s Surveys module show which questions are your impact drivers, so you know what areas to prioritize moving forward

Every well-designed survey should include a mix of closed-ended prompts and open-ended questions. Why? This yields a combination of quickly measurable quantitative data to build processes around and more nuanced qualitative data to add texture and context to those results. For example, you may see a quantitative result such as “self-reported stress levels increased by 15% this quarter compared to last quarter,” but this would be hard to change without some qualitative context, like “many employees have reported that the new team structure isn’t working and it’s leading to friction and inefficiency.” 

For closed-ended questions, ask team members to rate their answers on a Likert scale, and make sure to ask a wide range of questions. You may want to refer to the examples we included below as guidance. 

Company culture questions

These types of queries are essential because company culture impacts the entire employee experience, affecting the way managers and direct reports interact and communicate and how the organization handles challenges and transitions. Questions about culture can also give you insight into staff’s sense of belonging. Prompts and open-ended questions can include:

Closed-ended prompts

  • I feel connected to my coworkers.
  • I feel that my coworkers and leadership embody company values.
  • I feel included in team decisions.
  • I feel 1:1s with my manager are useful and productive.
  • I feel leadership is always open to feedback.

Open-ended questions

  • In your opinion, how well does the company handle obstacles and changes?
  • What can the company do to be more transparent when relaying news and important information?
  • What one aspect of working here do you like most? What do you like least?

Rewards & recognition questions

A photo of a professional leading a meeting with several other employees.

Asking about
rewards and recognition can provide insight into whether employees feel their workplace is fair

Monetary and non-monetary rewards are among the primary drivers of employee satisfaction. In our 2023 State of People Enablement Report, 76% of employees agreed that compensation and benefits were a major reason they were looking for another job. 

However, that doesn’t mean rewards should overshadow the role recognition plays in motivating professionals and creating and maintaining a positive work environment. “Praising people isn’t only a nice thing to do,” says Eva Maria Veitmaa, Team Lead and Technical Project Manager at Playtech, “but also a powerful way to boost morale and motivation, foster better work relationships and trust, encourage engagement and job satisfaction, reward effort and positive behaviors, and create a culture of continuous feedback.” 

Here are some examples of questions aimed at rewards and recognition:

Closed-ended prompts

  • I find my compensation and benefits package competitive.
  • I feel I’m compensated for my professional efforts fairly.
  • I feel like leadership appreciates my role and contributions.
  • As far as my mental and physical health is concerned, my benefits package meets my needs.

Open-ended questions

  • What other benefits or incentives do you need or feel you’d enjoy?
  • What one aspect of your job makes you feel the most valued? The least valued?
  • What improvements or changes would you make to foster more employee appreciation?

Growth & development questions

Employee development is yet another tangible benefit that team members are looking for ‘in exchange’ for their professional efforts. People want to upskill and gain valuable experience during their tenure with your company. They also seek clearly defined roadmaps for advancement opportunities. See our examples below:

Closed-ended prompts

  • I feel I’m growing professionally in my role.
  • I feel my professional path with this company is clear.
  • I find the mentorship I’m getting from my manager and other leaders useful.
  • I know how to access the growth and development resources this company offers.

Open-ended questions

  • What specific training or development opportunities would you like us to offer?
  • Which training or resources have you appreciated the most and would like to receive more of?
  • Can you provide examples of instances where you felt supported and encouraged to learn and grow in your role?

Work-life balance & well-being questions

Gallup research found that a lack of work-life balance and poor well-being can lead to higher turnover rates and hundreds of millions of dollars of loss in productivity, highlighting how essential work-life balance is to making businesses more resilient. 

When employees are empowered to properly manage their work responsibilities alongside their personal lives, they experience reduced stress levels, better physical and mental health, and improved overall satisfaction. Moreover, they’ll have more energy to bring to their work, which impacts their engagement levels. We’ve included some ideas for you below: 

Closed-ended prompts

  • I feel I have enough time to take care of my personal commitments outside of work.
  • I find my workload manageable.
  • I have no problem using my allotted personal days and vacation time.
  • I’m able to disconnect from work and take breaks during weekends and off-hours.
  • My manager and leadership team support me during times when I need to prioritize my personal life over work.

Open-ended questions

  • What, if any, specific factors or policies interfere with your ability to maintain a satisfactory work-life balance?
  • What flexible work arrangements have you taken advantage of to improve your work-life balance? 
  • Do you often face any specific work-life balance challenges? If so, how does your manager support you with them?

How to plan your employee satisfaction survey

A photo of employees in a meeting at a table, all looking at their devices and laptops.

You need a trusted team of cross-departmental colleagues to make sure your questions apply to everyone

Now that you have your survey goals and questions outlined, it’s time to determine how you’ll coordinate and manage its delivery. You should:

  • Create a team of cross-functional stakeholders to approve your questions — This will both give you access to diverse perspectives and ensure your questions are relevant to all departments.
  • Determine how frequently you’ll deliver your satisfaction surveys — “Surveys that are too frequent and too long will see a drop in participation over time, even if there’s a lot of enthusiasm in the beginning,” says Radojević. “It’s important to strike the right balance between frequency and length. That’s why I recommend short and regular pulse surveys for the entire organization, paired up with longer, context-specific surveys for a representable sample of employees to dig deeper on certain topics.”
  • Send out reminders — Use email, chat, and company-wide meetings to politely nudge team members to complete the survey. Although it shouldn’t be mandatory, having as many participants as possible is ideal.
  • Make a plan to analyze the results — Use employee engagement software like Leapsome to identify trends and uncover which impact drivers you need to focus on, such as growth and development or rewards and recognition.
  • Decide how you’ll follow up Whether in an all-hands meeting or a company memo, you should share your results as soon as you’ve summarized and compiled the data and insights. Include anonymous quotes from open-ended answers to show that you’ve listened to and understood the feedback.
🪂 Don’t leave survey responses up in the air

Leapsome makes it simple to take action with auto-generated action plan suggestions based on employee answers.

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How to ensure you get honest, actionable feedback

You’re not just looking for a participation score above 70% — you also need results that can inform future initiatives and increase satisfaction. To achieve those outcomes, implement these best practices:

  • Keep surveys anonymous Make sure answers can't be tracked back to the respondent. In Leapsome, it is possible to set up anonymous surveys and to even integrate scores for teams with less than three employees into the scores of the whole department to prevent identifying any specific individuals.
  • Keep it simple — As Lea Schmidt puts it, you should “spend time really thinking about the questions. Ensure the survey is simple and quick to complete because survey fatigue is a real thing.”
  • Explain why you’re conducting the satisfaction survey — If you’re running a survey because you’re concerned about your current engagement or turnover rates, let employees know to build trust and foster transparency. 
  • Share what you plan to do with your results — “Proactively communicate the actions you’re taking as a business based on the feedback you get,” says Schmidt. “Your employees want to see the impact their contributions have, and this will motivate them to keep on answering surveys. It’s a two-way street.” 
  • Emphasize the importance of answering open-ended questions — If possible, provide an example of useful feedback from a previous survey and explain how that contributed to a current change or update. This helps you develop trust in the process.

Create employee surveys that make a genuine difference with Leapsome

A screenshot of Leapsome’s survey analytics dashboard.
Leapsome’s Surveys module helps unpack quantitative and qualitative data

When retention rates and engagement scores are low, satisfaction surveys can shed light on what employees feel they’re missing. They help you understand whether you need to update your compensation and benefits packages or invest more time and resources into training and development. They can also uncover any deep-rooted cultural issues.

However, alongside straightforward satisfaction surveys, you need a trustworthy platform that can automate survey cycles, analyze and interpret data, and help specify the exact measures you need to take to improve satisfaction scores.

Leapsome’s here to help. Our Surveys module empowers users to make sense of survey results, segmenting responses based on key drivers and generating automatic action plan suggestions. Our sentiment analysis feature identifies trends in open-ended answers, and our easy-to-read visualizations show how survey scores change over time. 

Best of all, our Surveys tool integrates with our Instant Feedback and Meetings modules, making it easier for teams to collaborate on the questions and initiatives that drive long-term satisfaction. 

📦 Easily unpack your satisfaction results

Leapsome analytics makes sifting through survey results faster with straightforward heat maps and bubble charts.

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Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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