10 Employee Survey Questions with the Highest Response Rates Ever

Lori Li
6 min read
Feb 13, 2020


Employee engagement surveys aren’t just something you implement because you’re supposed to. Findings from Gallup show that highly engaged business units are 21% more profitable than their counterparts.

In other words, employee engagement surveys are something you simply can’t afford to not do.

The purpose of conducting an employee engagement survey

An effective employee engagement survey helps you discover what motivates employees to do their very best work. They also help uncover what’s causing employees to do less than their very best.

Surveys also help build trust and drive organizational growth as employees see the work you do in response to results.

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What can you get out of employee engagement surveys?

Engagement results enable you to identify areas where you’re currently succeeding and areas you need to devote more time and attention to. You can use results to make informed decisions related to everything from benefits and leadership training, to communications and recruiting.

In order to make informed decisions, however, you need good data.

Why does a high response rate matter?

Low response rates on employee engagement surveys mean you have less data. And that makes it difficult to discern whether a particular data set is valid and statistically significant.

What does that mean exactly?

If you have a low response rate, you’re missing a piece of the puzzle. Higher response rates, on the other hand, help you determine whether a particular data set came about by chance or if there’s a more specific factor involved.

Asking the right survey questions the right way makes a difference

A high response rate comes from asking the right questions in the right way.

For the best results, you’ll want to use a combination of factual questions to quantify employees and subjective questions to measure feelings and perceptions.

Each question should be specific, use simple language, and focus on one idea at a time.

There are a few types of questions proven to be most effective.

  • Rating scale questions using a 10-point scale enable you to ask complex questions and receive more simple answers. By asking employees to rate certain factors on a 10-point scale, you’re able to focus on the resulting average—how most employees feel—rather than being thrown off by outliers.
  • Likert scale questions—those that use a 5- or 7-point scale—provide a range of extremes and are often used in employee engagement surveys to assess likelihood or agreeability.
  • Open-ended questions provide you with more specific feedback that you can take immediate action on.

Based on our data, the following 10-step survey consistently receives the highest response rates.


Let’s take a look at each question to determine why that is—as well as how you can use responses to these questions to boost employee engagement.

01. How valued do you feel at work?

Feelings matter. Employees who feel valued are more motivated, more engaged, and more likely to go the extra mile.

The emotions that develop from feeling valued can help build a stronger connection with the organization, leaders, and colleagues. On the flipside, low scores in this area may mean you need to look into employee recognition efforts.

If you’re struggling in this area, perhaps you need to train managers on how to give better day-to-day recognition. Or maybe you need to improve your current awards and recognition programs.

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02. How happy are you at work?

According to the 2019 TINYpulse Employee Engagement Report, high performers are roughly 15% happier at work than low performers. Unhappy employees affect productivity—and not in the good way—so it’s important to learn what’s going on here.

You can look at responses to other questions to see if you can pinpoint what’s affecting happiness levels. On the other hand, if you have high levels of happiness, use that data in recruiting efforts. Potential employees want to know your current employees are happy.

03. How likely are you to be working here in one year?

By limiting this question to a one-year timeframe, you aren’t asking employees to think too far into the future.

This is another opportunity to do some detective work. You want to know whether an employee is considering leaving because of factors within your organization’s control and you can find that out by reviewing this question’s response in relation to other results.

For example, if an employee doesn’t feel valued and has no work-life balance, they’re likely looking for a new job right now.

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04. Do you know what is expected of you at work?

This question is great because it’s very specific. Employees either know what is expected of them or they don’t.

Responses to this question can help you identify a gap related to communication. Departments and leaders may need training on how to best communicate expectations well and consistently.

Getting this right can also impact other areas—such as employee recognition and performance management.

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05. What’s one thing that we do very well here that we should continue doing or do more of?

This provides employees with an opportunity to tell you what they like: what matters to them.

It’s easy to look at engagement survey responses and get caught up in areas where you can improve. But it’s critical that you pay attention to what’s going right so you can continue to support and maintain that success as well.

06. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your office’s commitment to keeping the customer at the center of everything we do?

This is a perfect question to use a rating scale for because it’s very complex.

There can be several factors affecting commitment and, in turn, the customer experience. The response to this question will help you predict how your business may be impacted by the overall employee experience.

Low numbers can also point to problems such as your frontline employees not feeling empowered or receiving good feedback.

07. On a scale of 1 to 10, how transparent do you feel management is?

Transparency builds trust, increases feelings of connection, and improves performance.

In asking this question, you want to know how the majority of employees feel about the topic. If you’re receiving more low responses, you have a problem with management as a whole and this is a cultural issue that you may want to address through leadership training.

If results are a bit more scattered, you may notice that the problem only needs to be addressed in specific departments at this time.

08. On a scale of 1 to 10, please rate the company’s communication in keeping you informed about matters that affect you.

Effective communication is one of the most important factors impacting employee engagement.

Using a scale helps you determine if most people feel communication is lacking—or if it’s just a problem in certain departments.

Perhaps you have employees who aren’t at a desk all day. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time you add a mobile app for those who don’t use email or the company intranet as often.

Everyone wants communication. But some groups may need it in a different form.

09. How likely would you be to refer someone to work here?

This question elicits an emotional response from employees—which is a key factor in engagement. It provides you with insight into employee satisfaction levels, but also tells you more about their emotional connection to your employer brand.

Consider your employees walking brand ambassadors. If employees aren’t happy, they aren’t just going to avoid referring people, they’re going to tell people why they don’t like working at your organization. Yikes!

If you’re getting that kind of feedback, you need to use other responses to try and determine why they feel that way.

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10. How would you rate your work-life balance?

You can’t improve employee engagement without understanding the basic needs of an individual, which this question covers.

If employees are burned out, their engagement is naturally going to decline.

Utilize the answers to this question in conjunction with other data to determine where the problem lies. For example, are there currently staffing issues in the department or could they use better technology?



Ready to start asking the best employee engagement questions?

A well-designed employee engagement survey provides valuable insight into what’s going on inside your organization and how your employees feel about it. See for yourself how Microsoft has leveraged TINYpulse to inform leadership decisions along every step fo the way.

"The fact that people are coming to us more frequently, asking us for involvement in TINYpulse, both the data and the system, tells us it's been successful."

- Diana Johnson, Chief of Staff and Leadership Coaching at Microsoft XBOX


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By asking the right questions, you can get the data you need to move forward in creating a strong company culture supported by highly engaged employees. That’s the ticket to a happier team, delighted customers, and a healthier bottom line.

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