It’s no secret that 51% of the workforce lacks engagement – but what does this really mean for your company?

The truth is, employee engagement and workplace happiness go hand-in-hand. If your employees aren’t happy, it’s unlikely that they’re doing their best work – which is why disengaged employees cost organizations billions of dollars each year.

Improving employee satisfaction and building workplace happiness starts by uncovering the “why” behind potential disengagement. While there are many ways to approach this, the most direct route is through an employee engagement survey in order to analyze the current state of your culture. Using the results, you’ll be able to nurture engagement, often leading to:

  • Reduced levels of employee turnover
  • Better innovation in the workforce
  • Higher productivity levels
  • A stronger sense of internal culture

Here are a few questions you can ask to get a better pulse on employee happiness and engagement.

1. “Do You See Opportunities for Career Growth in Your Role?”

Opportunities for career development and professional growth are two of the most important drivers for engagement in the workplace. One way you can present this question for more accurate readings is by using a scale, asking employees to rate how much opportunity they feel they have on a scale of 1 to 10.

If the numbers you get back from this question are low, you’ll need to make changes quickly. Many employees, especially Millennials, are likely to job-hop if they feel their professional future lacks growth, so it’s important to be vocal about those opportunities and how they can be accessed.

2. “Do You Understand the Company Mission/Vision?”

Every business has a distinct vision of the future. Unfortunately, if the internal communications component isn’t properly aligned with the rest of the company, you risk having a professional team full of people working towards disparate goals.

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Clarity is essential to success in any business, and asking employees whether or not they understand why they do what they do helps to maintain focus and motivation. Rather than just asking the question using “Yes or No” format, ask employees to briefly write down their idea of what the company mission is in their own words. Open-ended questions like this will help to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

3. “Are You Comfortable Communicating Ideas?”

Employees want to feel appreciated and respected in the workplace – and it’s important for this not only to be understood, but also vocalized. If your employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas, they might be holding onto ideas and insights that would otherwise nurture the growth of your company. One of the top reasons people like working for smaller companies is because they feel their input matters, but company size doesn’t have to indicate whether or not this element is present.

Just as you should have a system in place for letting team members know what they’re doing well or where they need improvement, you should also provide a system where team members can provide opinions on processes, business functions and leadership. Feedback is essential in any business environment, both for employees and the company as a whole.

4. “How Would You Describe Our Company Culture?”

Today, the lines between personal lives and work lives are becoming increasingly blurred. According to one study, 93% of Millennials are searching for a career where they can act like themselves at work. As competition for the best professional talent grows fiercer by the day, one of the easiest ways to attract experts to your team is to show them that you have a positive company culture. Employees are no longer looking for just the right role, but the right community as well.

Ask your employees to share five words that they feel best describe your corporate culture, and see if their words align with how leadership perceives culture to be. If there’s a disconnect, it might be time to take a step back a re-evaluate initiatives.

Once you create a culture you’re proud of, show it off! If employees are happy, they’ll naturally be inclined to recommend new jobs to their friends – otherwise known as social recruiting. This reduces talent acquisition costs and significantly improves workplace happiness.

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5. “Are You Able to Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance?”

Working long hours doesn’t automatically lead to better productivity. If you want to get the best from your employees, you also need to make sure that you’re looking after their best interests.

Asking your employees to rate their work/life balance will help you to understand how overwhelmed your team feels in their roles given their current workload. If your company isn’t supporting this healthy work/life balance, then you risk having employees either lose interest in your organization or burnout altogether.

6. “Do You Have Positive Relationships With Co-Workers?”

According to data from Globoforce, 69% of employees who feel they have 25 or more friends at work are “engaged” in the workforce. In smaller businesses, the number won’t necessarily be as high, but it’s still crucial to make sure you’re cultivating a friendly and collaborative environment if you want to boost professional productivity.

Another report by TinyPulse found that co-workers are the ultimate motivator for employees to push themselves further at work and in their roles. People want a team that inspires them and pushes them to greater potentials.

7. “How Would You Rate Your Relationship With Managers?”

It’s not just the relationship between co-workers that matters for workplace happiness, but the connections between employees and their managers. According to Gallup, 54% of workers who feel that they can approach their managers with a question are engaged, compared to only 2% who feel unable to ask for help.

Use your employee engagement survey to make sure that employees feel comfortable communicating with their managers and leaders. This could mean scheduling one-on-one meetings with your team or holding open-door office hours where employees know they can come to you with any issue.

8. “Do You Think Our Company is Transparent?”

Finally, according to one employee engagement study, management transparency ranks as the most important factor in ensuring employee happiness – and understandably so. It’s hard to feel like an important member of the team if you have no idea what’s going on or where the future is headed.

Keep in mind that if you don’t receive positive answers from this question, it’s important to act on it.Clarify information about performance, keep the workforce up to date on changes and make sure that you have consistent internal communication strategies. Whether it’s through sharing more information with employees or asking follow up questions to understand the background behind what information they seek, it’s critical to take these answers seriously.

Improving Happiness in the Workplace

Improving happiness in the workplace is essential to having an engaged and productive workforce. With your employee engagement survey, you can discover some of the roadblocks that might be preventing your team from achieving its true potential. It often comes down to making sure that you have a diverse and strategic approach to employee communication, enabling your team to feel informed, appreciated and satisfied at work.