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12 questions to include in a workplace culture survey

A workplace culture survey can help improve employee retention and provide insight into previously unknown workplace issues. Learn what questions to include.

A positive workplace culture can help improve employee retention. Workplace culture surveys give company leaders insight into any company culture issues and help improve the organization overall if HR staff includes the right questions.

A workplace culture survey collects feedback from employees and can help guide company strategies and policies. Some of the topics to cover in a workplace culture survey are satisfaction with company communications and career advancement opportunities.

Learn more about the benefits of workplace culture surveys as well as questions to include.

What is a workplace culture survey?

A workplace culture survey is a tool that enables employees to provide their feedback on topics including company leadership, job satisfaction, compensation and benefits, and diversity and inclusion, among others. The goal is for company leaders to gain insight into employees' feelings about the current workplace culture.

Surveys are typically conducted anonymously so employees feel more comfortable sharing candid feedback.

Company leaders must act on the feedback after receiving employee survey responses. Employees who feel like their feedback is not being heard might not want to fill out future surveys, which can negatively affect workplace culture.

5 benefits of sending out workplace culture surveys

Workplace culture surveys can help improve company operations in various ways. Here are several.

1. Gives leaders insight into employee sentiment

Learning about employees' perceptions of the company can help leaders improve organizational culture before problems lead to employee dissatisfaction and potential departures.

For example, a workplace culture survey might reveal employee dissatisfaction over a lack of career training. Leaders can use this feedback to improve those opportunities.

2. Ensures alignment between workplace culture and organizational values

A workplace culture survey can give insight into whether an organization's values match its current culture in reality.

For example, if an organization has set goals for DEI efforts but employee data reveals that workers do not believe the company values DEI, then leaders can work on improving the organization's DEI strategies and, potentially, improving how they communicate about the organization's DEI efforts.

3. Helps drive organizational change

Employee surveys provide quantifiable data on worker sentiment about a particular topic, which can help convince leaders that employees feel a certain way.

For example, HR staff might believe that employees are dissatisfied with benefits changes based on casual conversations with employees, but leaders might want specific data on workers' feelings before moving forward with a plan. HR staff can conduct a workplace culture survey to gather data on employees' feelings about the benefits.

In addition, periodically sending out workplace culture surveys can help leaders measure the effects of company changes and act on the data.

4. Helps manage risk

Low morale can lead to company risk, such as employee departures. Workplace culture surveys help leaders prevent issues before they occur.

For example, some employees might be considering leaving the company because of dissatisfaction with their compensation. Workplace culture survey data can reveal this problem to leaders so they can take action.

5. Helps improve employee engagement

Soliciting feedback from employees demonstrates that company leaders care about employees' opinions, which can lead to improved employee engagement and satisfaction.

However, leaders must ensure they act on the employee feedback gathered through surveys, or employee engagement might decrease, since employees might feel like their voices are not being heard.

12 questions to include in a workplace culture survey

Some best practices for creating a workplace culture survey include aiming for a good mix of open-ended and rating scale questions, as well as ensuring the survey is easy for employees to complete.

Here are some questions that HR staff should consider including in a workplace culture survey.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your job?

Asking this question gives direct insight into employees' job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction is closely related to employee engagement and retention, so leaders must gain an understanding of workers' level of satisfaction with their jobs in order to succeed at those other metrics.

2. How likely are you to recommend this company?

Employees recommending their employer to others, or not wanting to do so, is a good indication of employees' job satisfaction and their feelings about the company culture.

Potential additions to this question include "as a great place to work" or "to friends or family."

3. Do you feel that company leaders are transparent in their communication?

Transparency is important to employees, and transparent communication from leaders makes employees feel valued and included in company operations.

This question could also reveal whether, for example, an employee feels the CEO is transparent in their communication but their team leader is not. If employees say a particular leader must work on their communication, HR staff can work with the supervisor on this.

4. How often do you receive feedback from your manager?

Receiving feedback from managers is important for all employees so workers can continue to improve at their jobs. Feedback also helps improve employee engagement because it gives workers insight into their performance.

For this question, HR staff can also consider asking how often employees receive feedback from peers or other higher-ups, such as department heads.

5. Do you feel your hard work and contributions are recognized?

Employees want to know that leaders are aware of their contributions to the company. Feeling appreciated also helps improve employee engagement.

If employees feel like leaders are not acknowledging their work, leaders can consider implementing an employee rewards and recognition program.

6. Are the rewards and recognition programs effective?

A company might already have a rewards and recognition program in place, but it might not be meeting employee needs. This question can point to ways of improving the program.

For example, an employee rewards program can give out gift cards for a specific retailer, but employees might share in a survey that they don't shop at that retailer and would prefer a different option.

7. Does the company offer you professional growth and career advancement opportunities?

Professional growth and career advancement are major concerns for employees, and company leaders must demonstrate that it's a top priority at their organization.

This question can give insight into whether the current career advancement options are meeting employee needs. Failing to meet those needs could lead to the departure of high-potential employees.

8. Do you feel the company supports a healthy work-life balance?

Work-life balance is important to many employees, particularly younger workers, so ensuring employees are happy with their work-life balance is crucial.

Employees working in different departments might answer this question differently. If so, company leaders can ensure all managers are promoting work-life balance and meeting employee needs in this area.

9. How would you rate teamwork and collaboration within your team?

Teamwork and collaboration contribute to productivity and team development, and employees who are dissatisfied with the teamwork or collaboration in their group might decide to leave the organization.

Employee responses on this topic can give insight into a certain group's struggle in this area and help leaders improve particular departments' operations. For example, IT department employees might all give low scores for their group's collaboration, revealing a need to work on the teamwork in that department.

10. Do you feel comfortable sharing ideas and opinions?

Employee feedback is crucial for day-to-day work, but workers must feel safe sharing ideas or opinions.

To get further insight into employees' comfort level with sharing feedback, HR staff might expand this question with "during team meetings" or "during meetings with your manager." For example, if employees in one group respond that they do not feel comfortable sharing feedback during team meetings, HR staff might need to look into issues with the group's manager.

11. Do you feel the company values diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion is an important topic for many employees, and company leaders might feel the organization is clear on its DEI goals but discover that workers feel differently.

If employees respond that they do not believe the organization values diversity and inclusion, leaders can consider whether the organization needs to set new DEI goals or if leaders should communicate about the organization's DEI efforts in a different way.

12. Are there any specific improvements or changes you would like to see in the workplace?

Giving employees open-ended questions can spotlight issues that company leaders might not be aware of.

For example, employees might respond that they'd like the company to change the timing of the free lunch program. Perhaps, company leaders were previously unaware of dissatisfaction with the offering.

Luke Marson is a principal architect and part of the management team of a global SAP SuccessFactors consulting partner, where he focuses on SuccessFactors Employee Central, extensibility and integration technologies.

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