The employee engagement survey has long been a staple of culture-savvy businesses—and for good reason! Engagement is key to employee productivity, morale, and retention—in short, good for the bottom line. And when it comes to taking the pulse on employee engagement, regularly checking in with employees to see how they’re doing, an engagement survey is really a no-brainer.

As a leadership speaker, I visit a lot of companies that do annual or semi-regular employee engagement surveys. I know that business leaders and HR executives see the value in these surveys—but sometimes; they don’t know exactly what they should be asking. They worry that their surveys aren’t providing them the kind of insights they need.

The Roots of Employee Engagement

It’s all too easy to ask the wrong survey questions when you don’t truly understand what motivates employees. So that’s a good starting point: To nail your employee engagement survey, you have to understand where engagement really comes from. Study after study confirms that engagement is locked into three basic concepts:

  • Employees who understand their role and their fit within the broader organization;
  • Employees who feel like they learn in the workplace, and develop their professional skillsets; and
  • Employees who feel empowered to address challenges and changes in the workplace.

Asking the Right Questions

Once you understand these three drivers of employee engagement, you can begin to formulate some survey questions that really get to the heart of the matter. Here are a few examples of effective employee engagement survey questions:

  • Do you understand the company’s mission and strategic goals?
  • Do you know what you should do to help the company meet its mission and goals?
  • Do you see the connection between your work and the company’s broader mission and goals?
  • Does your team inspire you to do your very best work?
  • Do you feel like you have access to the information and tools you need to make correct decisions in the workplace?
  • When an unexpected problem arises, do you know who you can ask for help?

These and similar questions will help you to gauge employee engagement on the most meaningful levels.