Employee Satisfaction Surveys

At DecisionWise, we discovered that employee engagement and employee satisfaction are not the same thing. Employee satisfaction is part of the larger employee engagement formula, and you can never build employee engagement unless you first ensure that employees are satisfied.

Employee satisfaction surveys specifically measure whether employees feel good about the basic terms of their employment relationship, and they measure concepts such as compensation, safety, tools and resources, etc.

Satisfied employees sit together at table

Employee Satisfaction Surveys vs. Employee Engagement Surveys

An employee can be satisfied with a job without being engaged in the job. Employee engagement is much more than being content with pay and the ability to leave at 3 pm. Contentedness is merely job satisfaction, and though satisfaction is generally enough to retain employees, it’s not enough to ensure productivity. On the other hand, employee engagement does promote increased productivity.

Many managers mistakenly think that employee satisfaction can increase employee motivation. Psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory proposes that people are influenced by two factors: those that impact motivation and basic factors that influence job satisfaction. Both factors are key components to building engaged employees.

Employee Satisfaction Elements

Employees need to have their basic needs met or engagement will suffer. A DecisionWise employee satisfaction survey measures concepts that specifically impact employee satisfaction. Some of these items include:

  • I have received the training I need to do my job well
  • I have the tools and resources I need to do my job well
  • My supervisor treats people with fairness and respect
  • I clearly understand what my supervisor expects of me
  • My supervisor gives me regular feedback on how I am doing
  • There are opportunities for my own advancement in this organization
  • We work effectively across departments and functions
  • This organization communicates well with all employees about what is going on

May times, we find interesting correlates when looking at employee satisfaction survey questions. For example, a low score on the item “I have the tools and resources I need to do my job well,” is often viewed as a negative driver of engagement.

Group of coworkers cheering

What are they Feeling?

Open-ended comments provide a wealth of qualitative information and provide detail on the reasons behind employee satisfaction survey scores. We recommend using two simple open-ended questions:

  1. What are the greatest strengths of our organization?
  2. What are the areas that need the most improvement in our organization?

Our research shows that using more than two open-ended questions significantly lengthens the time it takes to complete the survey and doesn’t yield better much more good qualitative information.

Understanding Anchor Questions

Measuring the employee satisfaction levels is a practice that has been refined at DecisionWise since 1996. DecisionWise uses a set of six anchor questions to measure the level of engagement in the workplace and additional questions to identify the drivers that lead to satisfaction. Some of these engagement anchor questions include:

  1. It is easy to become absorbed in my job.
  2. I would recommend Sample Company as a great place to work.
  3. Most days, I look forward to coming to work.
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