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Learn how to use surveys to measure morale and keep employees happy


Successful companies depend on satisfied employees. To find out how your employees feel about their jobs, you need to measure and understand their satisfaction levels. The best way to accomplish this is through employee satisfaction surveys.

Let’s take a closer look at employee satisfaction, how it differs from engagement, why you need to measure satisfaction, and what to do with the results as we delve into the world of employee satisfaction surveys. 

Create better employee surveys by collaborating with your team. Plus save over individual plans.

Employee satisfaction, not to be confused with employee engagement, is a term used to describe how content employees are with their jobs, experiences, workplace, and overall organization. Satisfaction is tied to elements such as compensation, benefits, recognition, work-life balance, workload, company culture, effective leadership, etc. Ensuring that you meet both the material and intangible needs for employee satisfaction is critical for retaining top talent and improving engagement in your organization.

Satisfaction is a crucial factor in employee engagement, your ultimate goal for employees. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A satisfied employee can be disengaged, so while accomplishing satisfaction is important, it is not the only ingredient needed for engagement. Conversely, a dissatisfied employee cannot become engaged without first becoming satisfied. 

Both employee satisfaction and engagement are directly linked to customer satisfaction. Many studies have shown that dissatisfied employees are unlikely to provide good customer service. Ultimately, improving employee satisfaction is an important factor in the overall success of your business and a foundational part of your employee engagement plan.

Employee satisfaction is also linked to retention. If your employees are satisfied and happy at work, they are less likely to leave. A benefit of measuring employee satisfaction is that you’ll find out why satisfied employees stay.

Everyone wants to love their job, right? After all, if you’re going to spend the majority of your waking hours at work you should feel happy there.

Employee satisfaction is predicated on understanding how many of your employees enjoy working for you. Are your employees happy? Are they satisfied with their benefits and day-to-day demands? Stop guessing and find out with an employee satisfaction survey.

An employee satisfaction survey is a tool used by organizations to measure the contentment of their employees. The collected information is analyzed and utilized to direct actions for improvement in areas that are not reviewed positively on the survey. Employee satisfaction surveys should be administered regularly to monitor the effectiveness of your efforts to improve satisfaction and to watch for new trends.

Benefits of administering an employee satisfaction survey:

  • Identify common issues among employees
  • Increase retention rates
  • Collect direct feedback from employees
  • Encourage open communication
  • Quantify feedback to justify improvements
  • Monitor satisfaction over time for trends
  • Anticipate turnover
  • Direct feedback to guide improvements

Employee surveys are valuable for learning about several topics, all of them directly related to employee morale, satisfaction, and involvement with the company.

Health benefits, wellness programs, compensation, managers’ performance, career development, work environment: These are all areas you can investigate in depth with a well-designed employee satisfaction survey.

For example, did you know that “respectful treatment of all employees” is the most important factor in job satisfaction in the U.S.? It’s true—according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management no other factor drives employee satisfaction more.

The more you know about how your employees feel, the easier it is to ensure that they are satisfied.

Check out our library of expert-designed employee surveys.

Take care in planning your employee satisfaction survey. Your goal is to obtain honest, authentic responses that you can turn into actionable solutions in your business. Keep that goal in mind throughout the process of planning, creating, and administering your surveys.

Obtaining data

To obtain the best data, you need your employees to be honest and authentic in their responses to your survey questions. Ensure that employees understand that their responses will be anonymous. In fact, put it in writing on the first page of your survey. If employees trust that no repercussions will occur for negative responses, they are more likely to give authentic answers. 

Writing questions 

Questions should be brief, concise, and easy to understand. Keep your tone conversational and free from jargon. And never ask for the same information twice. Even if the questions are worded differently, only ask once.

While it’s tempting to use all multiple choice and rating scale questions because they are easy to analyze, open-ended questions will provide you with the most insightful information. A mix of question types will yield a comprehensive look at employee satisfaction.

Survey length 

There is no set length for an employee satisfaction survey. Find a balance between acquiring the data you need and collecting so much data it becomes too difficult to digest. You should also consider limiting your questions to avoid survey fatigue. If respondents grow tired or bored, they will abandon the survey altogether. With that said, the first survey should comprehensive and include up to 30 questions. 

Your first employee satisfaction survey will be comprehensive. And, as you may know, you’ll need to check the pulse of your employees on a regular basis after that. Rather than administering the full survey each time, use pulse surveys of 1-10 questions periodically throughout the year. These can yield important insights and trends with a lesser time commitment.

Best practices for writing survey questions

  • Write questions that are simple and direct: don’t add any unnecessary details
  • Ask about subjects that can be changed: if you can’t take action based on the responses, don’t ask the question
  • Make questions specific and concise: don’t generalize
  • Don’t use jargon: stay away from industry buzz words
  • Keep questions neutral: avoid questions that are biased or leading
  • Ensure an adequate, balanced range of responses: always offer one neutral response 
  • Stay away from emotionally charged vocabulary: keep language even and neutral
  • Avoid double-barreled questions: ask one question at a time
  • Don’t ask the same thing twice: rewording the same question may lead to survey fatigue
  • Make questions optional: do not require a response to every question
  • Test your survey before sending it out: send to your colleagues for a test run and revise based on feedback

Here's a list of questions that can help you understand what your team members think:

  • How meaningful is your work?
  • How challenging is your work?
  • In a typical week, how often do you feel stressed at work?
  • How well are you paid for the work you do?
  • How much do your opinions about work matter to your coworkers?
  • How often do the tasks assigned to you by your supervisor help you grow professionally?
  • How many opportunities do you have to get promoted where you work?
  • How likely are you to look for another job outside the company?

Once you’ve found the right questions to ask, it’s important to make sure you get as many responses as possible to get the most reliable feel on how things are going at the office.

The following are some tips to make sure your survey on employee morale is successful.

  • Guarantee employees’ confidentiality. Your team members need the reassurance that their views will be confidential. You want them to be as honest as possible when they take your survey, so also consider making the survey anonymous to increase their sense of security.
  • Use clear language. Avoid using buzzwords and corporate language that employees may not understand. Your surveys should read like a human conversation to invite sincere feedback.
  • Avoid tinkering with the words. Keep the wording constant between surveys and from year to year. This way you can be sure of measuring the same aspects of your company’s culture all the time.
  • Use technology to your advantage. An online survey with the right follow-up tools can help guarantee high levels of participation. SurveyMonkey’s Analyze tool can help you interpret the results you get.

A survey of your employees’ views on company morale is a good thing to have. You should present the results to the team and make changes to company policies if necessary.

But you know what’s better? Conducting many successive surveys that you can compare to one another over time.

Benchmark your surveys. Once you’ve done one survey, you’ve taken the first step toward understanding employee satisfaction over the long term. When you send repeated surveys, each survey will be more valuable as you compare it to previous ones. You can also make comparisons between departments to know exactly which one needs immediate attention.

Find external benchmarks, too. Maybe 67% of your employees say they are inspired to meet their goals at work. Is that good or bad? It may not be easy to think about that other 33%, but you’d feel better knowing that you are in the 99th percentile among American companies. SurveyMonkey offers benchmarks like this on the employee engagement survey template (and many more) so you know where you stand compared to your peers.

  1. The first thing you must do after your survey closes is to thank your employees for participating. Explain that you are now going to go through the survey responses and develop a plan of action. Provide specifics about when you’ll be sharing the results and action plan company-wide. This will be most meaningful in an email from senior management.
  2. Next, focus on the data. Look for patterns and trends. Read open-ended responses for insights you may not have considered. Be thorough in your analysis—don’t jump to conclusions. Take the data and divide it into a few key themes that reveal pain points. These will be the themes you use to develop action plans. Once you have the themes identified, send out a quick pulse survey if you need any follow-up information.
  3. Action planning requires you to focus on the key themes for your initiatives. A long list of improvements may have come to mind, but your action plan should focus on those few areas that will make the most impact immediately.
  4. Follow through on your promise to share the survey results and your action plan company-wide. Be transparent about your findings and clear about your plans and goals.
  5. Execute your data-driven action plan. This may require a specific team or task force.
  6. Evaluate your progress to ensure your efforts are resulting in the desired effects. This entails gathering feedback from your employees through pulse surveys throughout the year.
  7. Repeat the process on an annual basis. This means going back to your original survey and tweaking questions to address the changes you’ve made. Use the new survey results to identify new themes for your action plans.
  8. There is one big “DON’T” when it comes to employee satisfaction surveys. Don’t administer a survey and let the project end there. When you get feedback, take action.

You’ll find that there are a few issues that are commonly identified in employee satisfaction surveys. We’ve put together a list, along with examples of actions that can be taken to address them.

  • Lack of recognition: Your best bet in addressing the issue of lack of recognition is a reward and recognition program. The program should be carefully curated to be inclusive, clear, and fair. Certificates, gift cards, movie tickets, or similar items can be used as rewards. Present recognition publicly!
  • Pay too low: Do your research. Is your pay aligned with the industry standard for your area? Use LinkedIn and Glassdoor as starting points. Align your pay scale and be transparent about raises and bonuses.
  • Lack of opportunity: Ensure a fair job-posting process—a posted job should not have been promised to someone. Evaluate your internal promotion and hiring process to find areas that can be improved. Again, be transparent about your efforts and what results can be expected.
  • Poor communication: Base your solution on whether the communication issue is with management, within teams, or interdepartmental. Once you understand the root cause of the problem, you can address it with an intranet forum, regular meetings, or other creative solutions.

Employee engagement has recently become a trending topic among human resources professionals. This doesn’t mean that employee satisfaction stopped being important overnight. In general, you can think of employee engagement as a deeper, multidimensional concept that encompasses other measures in addition to satisfaction.

SurveyMonkey created an employee engagement survey that aims to capture that deeper level of connection between an employee and their company.

Employee satisfaction depends on many different factors, generally related to the concrete conditions of everyday life at the office and the benefits and compensation the team members receive in return for their time and hard work.

There are many ways in which employees can love their job. If you want to be sure that you have a highly motivated team, you nee