How to Design an Employee Satisfaction Questionnaire

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

If you work at a small business with no human resources manager of if you end up handling HR duties as part of your job description, you might be asked to create a survey that gives management a feel for how employees think about the business. The survey might gauge staff feelings on the company overall or ask about a specific areas, such as vacation policy or benefits. You can get the valuable answers your company needs with the right kinds of questions..

List Exact Goals

The first step in designing a survey is to determine what information you want to glean from the survey. You might need specific answers regarding specific areas of your business. An example would be asking sales employees to rate your bonus or commission structure. You might want information on new ideas you have, such as asking employees to give you their thoughts on what they would like to see in a wellness program.

Asking About the Present

Some of your questions will survey employees regarding your current policies and practices. Even if you are asking employees to comment on a new wellness program, you might ask your staff questions about what they think about your vending machines and health insurance plan. When asking about current policies, procedures and practices, avoid asking questions that provide limited answers, such as yes or no questions. Ask employees to rate items on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. Include empty boxes that allow staff to provide free-form answers, such as what they would change about an aspect of your company.

Asking About the Future

When surveying employees about future plans you have, first try to pull answers from them before giving them specific answers from which to choose. For example, if you are looking at adding health insurance benefits, first ask your staff to list new benefits they want. Next, provide a list of potential new benefits and ask them to rank them in order of importance, or to rate each on a scale of 1 to 5. Asking employees to volunteer benefits they want before they see a list of options lets you see what’s already on their minds. Asking them to then evaluate a list allows you see their reaction to benefits they might not have considered. When surveying employees about the future, let them know that future choices might change current polices or procedures, letting you learn how satisfied employees are about their current situations.

Don’t Lead

Avoid pushing employees toward answers you want by asking neutral questions. For example, don’t ask, “Do you like our vacation plan?,” instead asking, “What would you change about our vacation plan?” You might ask, “Would you be willing to take one less vacation day in exchange for more flexibility in using days?” This gives you an indication of how satisfied employees are with your current vacation plan, giving you specific feedback as to why or why not, instead of just a yes or no answer.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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