A guide to conducting employee engagement surveys


Get your survey on and build your employee engagement strategy with your team’s feedback.

Written by: Officevibe | Edited by: Sofia Acosta | Illustrated by: Officevibe
Updated on: Published on: June 23, 2021 |  Reading time: 16m

A good manager wonders how their employees feel and whether they’re happy, engaged, and satisfied at work. A great manager knows how to measure these feelings and act on them to improve their team’s overall experience. So, how can you get there?

While one-on-one meetings and status updates help you stay connected with each team member and their work, employee engagement surveys are a great way to get a high-level view of your team’s engagement level over time.

Questionnaires, polls, or surveys give employees a voice within their organization. And this feedback gives you plenty of actionable insights because a great employee survey tool will measure employee engagement metrics like peer relationships, job satisfaction, wellness and stress, company alignment, and more.

So, what’s the best type of survey for your team? How can you implement it so that people participate? How do you interpret your survey results? And what do you do with the insights you get from your team? Find answers to all your questions on employee engagement surveys in this complete guide!

The importance of measuring employee engagement

If you want to show employees that you care, start at square one by measuring employee engagement within your team. When employees feel their opinion matters, they’re more likely to speak up when it’s important. And when managers take their input to heart, it builds a trusting manager-employee relationship. This relationship can help re-engage disengaged employees or help engaged employees thrive.

As Gallup reports in their 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report, global progress on employee engagement levels has stalled since the pandemic.

21% of employees are engaged at work, globally. While engagement increased by 1 percent this year, it is still below the peak in 2019.

Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report

Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy US$7.8 trillion, accounting for 11% of global GDP, and states that current levels of employee disengagement are causing average corporations to fight daily to improve team productivity. But they also believe it doesn’t have to be like this.

When you invest in your people, you’ll quickly see the importance of employee engagement and how it is vital to a company’s success. But you can’t build an effective employee engagement strategy without actionable data to back up your efforts. That’s why giving people the opportunity to share how they feel with an engagement survey is key to improving the employee experience.

Statistics from an employee engagement survey platform

Over 50,000 managers use Officevibe’s employee engagement solution to understand how their team feels.

Officevibe’s employee engagement data tells us that:

  • 1 in 4 employees say they would leave their current company if offered a similar job at another organization.
  • Nearly a third of employees do not feel they are appropriately involved in decisions affecting their work.
  • 1 in 5 survey respondents don’t feel like they have the opportunity to do what they do best in their role.

On the bright side, the data also shows that:

  • Generally speaking, 72% of survey respondents would rate their level of happiness at work as positive.
  • 84% of survey respondents enjoy the work that they do.
  • 84% of survey respondents feel like their organization trusts them to contribute to the company mission.

Types of employee engagement survey questions

The first step when building your own poll is to understand the types of employee engagement survey questions you can ask and the purposes they serve. There are two broad question types to measure employee engagement: quantitative and qualitative questions.

Quantitative survey questions

A quantitative survey question has a predetermined set of responses. These could be:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • True or False questions (or Yes/No)
  • Opinion scales (ex: 1-10)

The main appeal of quantitative questions is that you can easily group responses, making for a quick analysis. These types of survey questions are also useful to track data trends over time, so you can compare employee engagement metrics across any given period at the click of a button. As a bonus, the structured nature of quantitative questions makes them quick and straightforward for employees to reply to.

Quantitative Survey Question Example on Officevibe
Quantitative question example in an Officevibe employee engagement survey

Qualitative survey questions

A qualitative survey question, on the other hand, is open-ended and can get more detailed information on a particular topic. While these questions take longer to answer, they give employees a great platform to provide direct feedback to their managers. Response rates may be lower, but the answers you do get will likely be very valuable.

A great employee engagement survey will use a mix of both types of questions. To simplify the process for employees, qualitative questions can serve as optional follow-ups to quantitative questions. This offers a safe space for those who have additional feedback while giving others the option to skip if they don’t have anything to add to their previous response.

Officevibe’s Pulse Surveys use quantitative questions to assess employee engagement levels on an ongoing basis. Many questions have qualitative follow-ups, where employees can provide more context or information. When managers want to dig deeper into specific topics, they can select from the bank of customizable survey templates or build their own from scratch.

Qualitative survey question example in Officevibe
Qualitative follow-up question in an Officevibe employee engagement survey

Employee engagement survey questions to avoid

When building an employee engagement survey, what are some questions to look out for? You want to be careful not to have leading, vague, or combined questions.

Leading questions

Leading questions are phrased to encourage employees to answer in a certain way. Avoid using leading questions so you don’t sway your team’s survey responses in a certain direction or end up with a confirmation bias.

Leading survey question examples:

  • Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more fruit in the kitchen?
  • Are you satisfied with your great benefits package?

If you can, have a colleague proofread your questions before you send out your survey. Ask them to look out for any wording that could influence people’s responses.

Vague questions

Vague questions run the risk of confusing the reader, which can cause them to give an irrelevant or misleading response. What’s more, they could frustrate employees and even cause them to skip the survey altogether.

Vague survey question examples:

  • What do you think about feedback?
  • How do you feel about your coworkers?

Be as specific with your questions as possible. If you want to know about feedback frequency, ask how often people get feedback. If you want to know about collaboration, ask if people are working well together.

Combined questions

Combined questions include more than one question. This can easily happen when you’re trying to keep your survey short while trying to get a lot of information. But it’s important to look out for these questions because they can make your survey responses much less accurate.

Combined survey question examples

  • Does your manager give you specific feedback, and give feedback often?
  • Can you rely on your peers for support, and do they go above and beyond?

Even if two or more questions are related, it’s always best to split them up. People might have different answers for each part of the question, so make sure each question truly stands alone.

Types of employee engagement surveys and when to use them

You can use a few types of employee engagement surveys to keep a pulse on employee sentiment. Depending on your industry and the size and context of your team, you can pick the survey type that’s best for your needs. You might even (and should) opt to implement a combination of surveys to measure different things.

One of the main differences in employee engagement surveys is the frequency. Your company might already have an annual or quarterly employee satisfaction survey to collect high-level feedback. But as a manager, it’s important to collect regular actionable insights from your team, so you might decide to supplement this with more frequent surveys, whether monthly, bi-weekly, or every week.

1. Annual employee engagement surveys

Traditionally, annual employee engagement surveys have been the way to get employee feedback on several metrics. Usually done at an organizational level, an annual survey is a long-form questionnaire that gives leadership teams high-level information on employee experience, company culture, and employee turnover. These insights can help guide everything from business strategy to HR initiatives and company policy.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping these surveys in your plan if your leadership team wants a broad summary of the year. But as a manager, the results from these surveys likely won’t uncover detailed drivers of engagement, and they’ll often be skewed or even biased.

Employees tend to respond to surveys based on how they currently feel, which is unlikely to represent an entire year’s worth of work life. In some cases, annual employee bonuses may also come around the time of the yearly survey, which can affect survey results and response rates.

What’s more, yearly company-wide surveys are long-winded and can take upwards of 30 minutes to complete. This significantly increases the risk of low survey participation. It’s crucial, then, to complement annual surveys with more frequent polls that lead to real-time action.

In fast-paced modern workplaces, annual surveys are unlikely to offer all the right insights to make meaningful change — especially at the team level. And for managers, these surveys are less likely to help you make incremental changes month-to-month and week-to-week that will have a big impact on your team.

2. Quarterly employee engagement surveys

Quarterly employee engagement surveys have their place at the organizational and team level. For senior leaders and human resources professionals, these offer a better way to keep up with how employees are doing and navigate any changes throughout the year.

And for managers, these surveys are a good way to get an overview of how things like your team strategy and work methods are going. A quarterly survey can help you plan the next 3 months for your team. These are some of the questions that quarterly survey insights could help you answer:

  • What will your team work on?
  • What are the priorities to drive engagement within your team?
  • Does your team clearly understand the company’s global objectives?
  • How will team members collaborate efficiently?

🤝 Need a helping hand? You can use a tool like Officevibe’s custom surveys to create your quarterly surveys and measure and track engagement scores as they fluctuate throughout the year.

Product shot of the Custom Polls feature in Officevibe
Building a custom poll in Officevibe.

3. Pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are the best and most accurate way to measure employee engagement and job satisfaction. These short employee engagement questionnaires are sent weekly or bi-weekly and only take a few minutes to complete.

Because of the frequency, managers and leadership teams get ongoing, real-time data on how employees feel at work, helping them track trends and fluctuations over time. Pulse survey reports make it easier to see the impact of changes and spot issues before they become bigger problems. The benefit of all this? It makes it so much easier for managers to act on survey results.

An employee engagement survey software built for managers

Officevibe’s Pulse Survey tool measures 10 key metrics of engagement, which break down into 26 sub-metrics. These include employee engagement factors like recognition frequency, relationships with managers, feedback quality, trust between peers, sense of purpose, work-life balance, and more.

The algorithm pulls from a bank of 122 questions — curated, verified, and tested by a team of employee experience experts — while ensuring employees are surveyed on all metrics so your data report stays accurate.

Officevibe's survey report
A Pulse Survey report in Officevibe

Employee engagement survey participation tips

Creating an employee engagement survey or finding the right survey tool for your needs is one thing. But getting employees to participate, so you get the most accurate survey responses is another.

The levels of trust in your organization and team, how you communicate the survey, and the survey length will all play into your participation rates. These are the best areas to focus on as you launch an employee engagement survey to boost participation and get the most honest results.

Building trust

Building trust in your team is the most important part. This means having a culture where employees are not afraid to speak up and give honest feedback. The good news?

Officevibe Pulse Survey data shows that 90% of employees already trust their managers.

VIBE: Human-generated culture

It takes time and effort to build trust, and if you’re not there yet, anonymous surveys are a great place to start.

When employees have the security to answer anonymously, psychological safety increases, and they’ll be far more likely to provide truthful and insightful answers. You can deepen the cycle of trust by actively showing employees that their candid responses are taken into account and acted on swiftly.

Survey anonymity concerns and benefits

While allowing anonymous employee feedback could be nerve-wracking for some managers, it’s an important part of surveying employees and soliciting feedback. People might not always be comfortable answering specific questions, even in the most open, honest, and psychologically safe teams.

But offering anonymity can build up that sense of safety. When employees see that their feedback is taken to heart and turned into meaningful action, it empowers them to speak up more often. This increases team trust and leads to stronger manager-employee relationships.


Whether you send a survey via email, a Slack message, or during a team meeting, the way you present it can impact how employees respond. When letting your team know you’re launching a new survey, try mentioning:

  • the reason you are sending it (or the objective you’re aiming for)
  • when they can expect to receive it
  • how many questions it includes or how long it should take to complete
  • whether their responses are anonymous
  • how you plan to use the results

If regular polls, like Pulse Surveys, are introduced to your organization, be sure to fully communicate these points before sending out the first survey. It isn’t necessary to repeat everything with each Pulse Survey. Still, you should let your team know that you are always available to answer any questions or concerns they may have about the questionnaire.

Survey length

The time an employee engagement survey takes to complete will impact your response rate. This is another reason why shorter, more frequent Pulse Surveys see higher participation rates. Beyond your participation rate, survey length affects the quality of your data.

The more questions you ask, the less time your respondents spend, on average, answering each question.

Survey Monkey

Research from Survey Monkey found that when people speed through questions, their answers become less reliable. And people tend to take their time with each question when the survey is shorter. So, a well-thought-out, short survey is the best way to get more people to engage with it and give higher-quality responses.

📈 Get actionable data that sparks positive change in your organization by increasing employee survey participation.

Interpreting employee engagement survey results

Every part of the employee engagement survey journey is important. But this step ties it all together. Your employee engagement metric is more than a score; survey reports have so much information to offer, so it’s crucial to learn how to interpret and understand your results.

Considering these influencing factors when analyzing employee survey results will paint a better picture of your team’s standings:

  • Timing: Is it a particularly busy quarter? Is a large portion of the team on vacation? The answers you receive, as well as your response rate, can be impacted depending on the time of year. Keeping tabs on timing can also help track seasonal trends in employee morale.
  • Context: Has there been a big company change, like a restructuring, acquisition, or major product launch, that may influence employee engagement? It’s important to identify how each change affects engagement.
  • Industry: What are the engagement benchmarks in your industry? Not all industries are made alike, and it may be harder to maintain high levels of engaged employees in certain sectors than others.

Best practices to follow after conducting surveys

Your team’s responses can tell you a lot as a manager, and you want to let them know that their input is valued. Here are the steps you should take once your survey results come in.

Thank employees for participating

Once the survey is completed (or occasionally if you use Pulse Surveys), you should thank employees for taking the time to participate. Let them know that you’ve received the results and are in the process of analyzing them. Reminding employees that their opinions matter to you and the company makes them feel their time invested in the survey was worthwhile.

Share and explain employee engagement survey results

Regardless of the type of survey you opt for (annual, quarterly, or weekly surveys), it’s important to communicate the results to your team. You can do this after each survey or every month or two if your surveys are more frequent. Explain what fluctuations or trends you’re spotting, and let your team know how you plan to act on these insights. Employee engagement survey tools can simplify this process with clear, digestible reports.

Always act promptly

The best way to increase engagement is to act on your findings as soon as possible. This makes sure problems aren’t swept under the rug and are addressed at the same time as employees are experiencing them. Acting promptly also shows employees that you are reliable and always prioritize their well-being.

🏆 Following a gold standard will help you make the most of your employee engagement survey questions. Set yourself up for success with these 15 engagement survey best practices.

Creating an action plan based on your findings

Don’t stop at collecting responses or even sharing them with your team. The most important thing any manager can do with their employee engagement survey results is act on them. Here’s how.

Discuss with your team

Once you’ve shared the results with your team, get their input on what focus areas they feel would have the greatest impact. Maybe feedback quality within your team is excellent, but it isn’t given frequently enough to make the most of this strength. Or perhaps your team is struggling with collaboration and might feel that focusing on peer communication would greatly benefit. Involving your team in the process helps you decide where to focus together.

Brainstorm ideas

You can start thinking of solutions, with one or two focus areas in mind. Brainstorm with your team and come up with ideas to address your pain points. Once everyone has shared their suggestions, you can vote together on the ones you’d like to pursue first. Again, this gives people agency in their engagement. Employees will be more committed to the action plan because they took part in defining it.

A brainstorm miro board with post-it notes
Brainstorming on team pain points and solutions

Communicate and follow up

Set a timeline for your goals or action items and follow up with your team. You can check in during team meetings or in one-on-ones to see how people adjust to the changes. If your team is having trouble getting an initiative off the ground, you can regroup with them to see how you can make it work.

🚀 Want to boost employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention? Download the full PDF and find a free employee engagement action plan template at the end.

Start surveying employees and never look back

If you’re looking to build a stellar employee experience, look no further and start sending frequent engagement surveys. Getting started is a breeze with the right tools. In no time, you’ll reap the benefits of employee engagement by seamlessly measuring it and solving issues before they become bigger problems.