Are your workers happy? If you aren’t 100 percent sure, you could be in trouble

Take a stroll around your office. You’ll likely see employees, sitting at their desk, seemingly engrossed in their work; what appears, at first glance, to be a happy, engaged staff.

However, looks can be deceiving — and automatically assuming hardworking employees are happy can be management’s biggest mistake.

In Talent Intelligence’s October blog post on Employee Value Proposition, we mentioned Gallup research that found that up to 67 percent of employees may be under-engaged. The average cost to an organization as a result: more than $2,200 a year per employee.

Incorrectly assessing your staff’s current state of mind can be an expensive proposition.


Unhappy employees, and employee turnover, can also be bad PR. Employees don’t, according to CIO, want to work at a company where they feel like they don’t have any input and consistently see valued employees walking out the door.

How can you be sure you’re not about to face an employee mass exodus? By measuring employee satisfaction levels with a company-wide survey.

But you’ll need to know what to ask — and how to phrase it — to get the best results.

A few tips to craft the most effective employee satisfaction survey:

Determine the best employee survey frequency

Some companies send employee satisfaction surveys out annually, to gather results that will help them create new programs for the coming year. However, your organization may also benefit from tallying employee opinions after a major structural change.

Take, for example, Mount Sinai Medical Center, which merged with New York University Medical Center in the late 1990s. HR, according to the New York Times, was concerned about whether or not employees felt comfortable in the new five-campus workplace. After waiting eight months for the dust to clear, the medical center hired a behavioral science consulting group to survey employee attitudes about the recent changes — including positions that needed to be restructured and personal job satisfaction.

Committee.jpgAsk the right questions

Be specific — ask about programs, job tasks and other factors — and yet, be broad. Topics you may ignore because they don’t directly relate to an individuals work tasks can have a big impact on employee happiness. A recent Society of Human Resource Management employee satisfaction and engagement survey, for example, found that the top engagement condition among employees, in general, was co-worker relationships; 73 percent of respondents cited that as their No. 1 job satisfaction factor, topping their relationship with their immediate supervisor and the actual work they performed.

Ensure confidentiality

You want utter honesty — and employees will likely want reassurance that their answers will be kept confidential. One thing to watch for: Even if you assure employees their answers will be confidential, certain questions may inadvertently narrow the response pool down to make it clear a certain employee or group of employees are responding, even if you don’t intend it to, CBS News.

Use results to help you chart a course for employees — and the organization

Web-based survey solution provider SurveyMonkey suggests using employee satisfaction surveys to gauge any skill gaps, based on your company’s future needs, and any interest employees have in adding those skills — which can help you provide training and career development programs that will offer both an employee retention and company growth payoff.

Ready to start writing? View a few employee satisfaction survey samples at SurveyMonkey, SHRM and