The 45 Questions Your Employee Engagement Survey Needs

Employee engagement surveys are about more than employee satisfaction. Our research has identified 14 drivers of employee engagement, each supported with a dedicated question set. Read on to learn more.

This article was updated on April 14, 2023. 

In this article, we discuss:

More than ever, employee engagement, company reputation, and success are directly linked. That’s why the questions your company asks to survey employee engagement are crucially important. 

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 40% of the 33,000 people surveyed ranked employees as the most important ingredient to long-term company success, compared to the 34% who said customers. But without reliable survey results, how can businesses know what their employees are thinking?

The quality of your data will depend heavily on the employee engagement survey questions you ask. Without a robust methodology, you increase the likelihood of your results being untrustworthy. Likewise, without an automated, continuous listening approach, you risk creating unnecessary work for your human resources (HR) team members. 

First, we’ll define the key terms surrounding engagement surveys. Then, we’ll outline the 45 core questions used in Workday Peakon Employee Voice to measure overall employee engagement levels. Over the course of this article, we’ll explain our unique methodology and how to promote high engagement across your business.

What Is Employee Engagement?

First, it’s important to establish what we mean by “employee engagement.” Measuring employee engagement without providing a shared definition of engagement can lead to confusion and poor-quality feedback. Before gathering data, you should always explain to employees why they’re being sent a questionnaire.

At Workday, we define employee engagement as the extent to which employees feel a connection to their company and its culture. Engaged employees consistently go above and beyond in their work out of a shared belief in the success of the organization. In turn, that boost in creativity and commitment translates into better customer experiences.

However, engagement isn’t just about work and performance. It also covers employee expectations, such as whether an employee:

  • Has the necessary tools to do the job.
  • Sees themselves reflected in the company’s diversity efforts.
  • Has friends at their workplace.

40% of the 33,000 people surveyed ranked employees as the most important ingredient to long-term company success, compared to the 34% who said customers.

What Is an Employee Engagement Survey?

It’s important that we distinguish between employee engagement surveys and employee satisfaction surveys. While there is a conceptual overlap between the two, employee satisfaction is best seen as the emotional component of employee engagement. 

  • An employee satisfaction survey only gathers feedback around one factor—how satisfied or content your employees are. While it functions as a good proxy measure for engagement, it does not factor in the full employee experience.
  • An employee engagement survey provides a full understanding of employee sentiment. It’s possible to be satisfied without being engaged, such as when workload is low. Conversely, an engaged employee feels completely connected to their work, their colleagues, and the wider business.

How We Measure Employee Engagement at Workday

Our employee engagement survey platform, Workday Peakon Employee Voice, sends out personalized questions at a regular cadence. Our question algorithm helps calculate the correct number of questions to send, rotating the questions an employee receives. If an employee scores strongly in one area, our smart algorithm automatically adds follow-up questions to provide richer detail.

All of those survey questions are answered on a scale of zero to 10. That gives businesses the flexibility to either measure engagement and its drivers as a mean score out of 10 (to one decimal place) or to use the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) scoring system. To provide more detail, Workday Peakon Employee Voice also allows employees to provide confidential written feedback.

The first step toward improving employee engagement is measuring it. To measure employee engagement, we calculate a mean score based on an average of the four questions listed below.

  1. “Advocacy” outcome question: How likely is it you would recommend [company name] as a place to work?
  2. “Loyalty” outcome question: How likely is it that you would stay with [company name] if you were offered the same job at another organization?
  3. “Satisfaction” outcome question: Overall, how satisfied are you working for [company name]?
  4. “Belief” outcome question: How likely is it that you would recommend [company name]’s products or services to friends and family?

The 14 Drivers of Employee Engagement

Measuring employee sentiment isn’t as simple as asking employees how engaged they are at work. Our research shows that to measure employee sentiment a more extensive series of questions is required.

The basis for the 45 employee engagement questions in Workday Peakon Employee Voice are 14 psychological categories. They represent employee sentiment across a range of experiences, job and role characteristics, cultural factors, and motivators.

These 14 categories strongly correlate with employee engagement outcomes across different cultures and industries, and are hence termed “drivers” of engagement. Each driver has an overview question and most also include “subdrivers,” designed to unearth more granular feedback.

Engaged employees consistently go above and beyond in their work out of a shared belief in the success of the organization.

1. Survey Questions to Measure “Accomplishment”

These questions measure the amount that each employee feels they achieve on a daily basis. A sense of accomplishment has been shown to directly impact employee retention.

  • Driver question: Most days I feel a sense of accomplishment from what I do.
  • “Challenging” subdriver question: I have the opportunity to do challenging things at work.

2. Survey Questions to Measure “Autonomy”

Measuring autonomy in relation to employee engagement concerns is focused on an employee’s ability to get their work completed on their own terms. Every employee should feel comfortable making work decisions by themselves.

  • Driver question: I’m given enough freedom to decide how to do my work.
  • “Flexibility” subdriver question: I’m satisfied with the amount of flexibility I have in my work schedule.
  • “Remote work” subdriver question: I have the option to work remotely when I’d like to.

3. Survey Questions to Measure “Environment”

This section concerns the impact of physical workplaces on engagement. A 2021 study by PwC found that 87% of employees believed the office was important for collaborating and building relationships. As the way we collaborate in person continues to evolve, the questions below are only growing in importance. 

  • Driver question: My physical work environment contributes positively to my ability to do my job.
  • “Collaboration” subdriver question: I can easily find space away from my desk for conversations and collaboration with others.
  • “Informal” subdriver question: When I need a break, my workplace has spaces to chat and relax with others.
  • “Equipment” subdriver question: I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job well.

4. Survey Questions to Measure "Freedom of Opinions”

These driver questions reveal whether employees are free to express their opinions without fear of negative consequences. The focus on freedom of opinions in our employee engagement survey stems from the need for psychological safety.

  • Driver question: At work, my opinions seem to be valued.
  • “Manager” subdriver question: My manager cares about my opinions.
  • “Team” subdriver question: My co-workers welcome opinions different from their own. 

5. Survey Questions to Measure “Goal Setting”

If employees don’t understand what qualifies as successful performance, anxiety can set in. These questions establish how employees feel about the work they are expected to do.

  • Driver question: At work, I know what I’m expected to deliver.
  • “Alignment” subdriver question: I understand how my work supports the goals of my team.

6. Survey Questions to Measure “Growth”

These questions relate to how employees perceive the level of workplace opportunity, both in terms of career development and personal growth. Our “Employee Expectations Report 2022” found that 8% of employees’ comments in 2021 were related to growth. 

  • Driver question: I feel that I’m growing professionally.
  • “Career path” subdriver question: I see a path for me to advance my career in our organization.
  • “Learning” subdriver question: My job enables me to learn and develop new skills.
  • “Mentoring” subdriver question: Either my manager or a mentor encourages and supports my development.

7. Survey Questions to Measure “Management Support”

Management support focuses on the quality of the relationship between employees and their direct managers. Rather than an opportunity for teams to critique their managers, this is a safe space for dialogue between the two.

  • Driver question: My manager provides me with the support I need to complete my work.
  • “Caring” subdriver question: My manager cares about me as a person.
  • “Openness” subdriver question: My manager communicates openly and honestly with me.

A 2021 study by PwC found that 87% of employees said the office was important for collaborating with team members and building relationships.

8. Survey Questions to Measure “Meaningful Work”

These questions focus on whether employees consider their work to be valuable, both to themselves and to the company. Meaningfulness was outlined in Kahn’s employee engagement theory as the feeling that one’s work is worthwhile, useful, and valuable.

  • Driver question: The work I do is meaningful to me.
  • “Fit” subdriver question: At work, I have the opportunity to use my strengths every day.
  • “Significance” subdriver question: I see how my work contributes to positive outcomes for customers or people I provide services to.

9. Survey Questions to Measure “Organizational Fit”

Organizational fit centers on the idea that an individual not only influences their work environment but is influenced by it. These questions focus on whether employees believe the values of the organization match their own.

  • Driver question: [Company name]’s values provide a good fit with the things that I consider important in life.
  • “Support” subdriver question: [Company name] really cares about my mental wellbeing.
  • “Health” subdriver question: Working here, I feel that I can live a physically healthy lifestyle.
  • “Equality” subdriver question: People from all backgrounds are treated fairly at [company name].
  • “Response” subdriver question: If I experienced serious misconduct at work, I’m confident [company name] would take action to rectify the situation.

10. Survey Questions to Measure “Peer Relationships”

These questions cover the 10th driver of engagement: The health of an employees’ relationships within the organization. That can cover everything from how employees view their colleagues professionally to whether there are adequate social opportunities within the office. 

  • Driver question: I can count on my co-workers to help out when needed.
  • “Friends” subdriver question: I see [company name] as the kind of place where I could make friends.
  • “Quality” subdriver question: My co-workers are committed to doing quality work. 

11. Survey Questions to Measure “Recognition”

This segment of the engagement survey reveals how strongly employees believe that their work is valued by the organization. Recognition is a strong component of Hackman and Oldham’s job characteristics model

  • Driver question: If I do great work, I know that it will be recognized.
  • “Performance” subdriver question: I get enough feedback to understand if I’m doing my job well.

12. Survey Questions to Measure “Reward”

These questions reveal how satisfied employees are with their total compensation. Equity theory states that employees are motivated when their inputs are matched by outcomes: pay, bonuses, benefits, and recognition from managers. Ensuring your staff feels that their performance is adequately compensated is key. 

  • Driver question: I am fairly rewarded (e.g., pay, promotion, training) for my contributions to [company name].
  • “Process” subdriver question: The processes for determining pay in our organization seem fair and unbiased.
  • “Discussion” subdriver question: I can have well-informed and constructive conversations with my manager about pay.

13. Survey Questions to Measure “Strategy”

The penultimate driver covers the degree to which employees understand and agree with a company’s overall strategy. Without the proper tools and resources in place to promote positive workplace communication, it’s easy for strategy scores to decline. 

  • Driver question: The overall business goals and strategies set by senior leadership are taking [company name] in the right direction.
  • “Communication” subdriver question: Our organization does a good job of communicating the goals and strategies set by senior leadership.
  • “Mission” subdriver question: I’m inspired by the purpose and mission of our organization.

14. Survey Questions to Measure “Workload”

The final driver examines whether employees feel the amount of work they’re responsible for is reasonable. Psychologists Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter cite engagement as the opposite of employee burnout.

  • Driver question: The demands of my workload are manageable.

Understanding the drivers of engagement is just the beginning. For information on how Workday Peakon Employee Voice provides real-time insights into employee sentiment, learn more on our website.

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