What is an Employee Satisfaction Survey?

One of the biggest impacts on your company's productivity is the engagement and satisfaction of your employees. You cannot ignore this important fact. High performing employees will leave your organization of they are not satisfied with your company. It is more difficult to attract new talent to work for you if your company is not a satisfying place to work.

Employee Satisfaction surveys provide a measure of satisfaction within your employees. These surveys provide valuable input such as comments and suggestions offered directly from the employees. These surveys can be used to solicit employee opinions on a variety of programs, policies, and issues such as the company's success in communicating its mission to employees, or local issues such as quality of the working environment.

These surveys often contain a series of multiple choice items grouped along one or more dimensions of the organization.

The types of items included in these surveys may concern areas such as:

  1. Creativity
  2. Innovation
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Senior Management
  5. Interpersonal Relations
  6. Functional Expertise
  7. Compensation
  8. Ability to Listening
  9. Customer Service
  10. Communication
  11. Obtaining Results
  12. Analytical Thinking
  13. Mentoring
  14. Strategic Leadership
  15. Teamwork
  16. Adaptability
  17. Staff Development
  18. Leadership
The results of this type of feedback process provide an understanding of how the employee perceives the organization along different dimensions.

This feedback:

The purpose of this document is to provide a guide to assist those who are conducting an employee opinion survey.

Chapter Highlights

  1. Uses
  2. Benefits
  3. How it is conducted
  4. Requirements
  5. Benefits of using the Internet
  6. Demos
  7. Item Bank
  8. Web Resources
  9. Related Pages
Principle of Employee Satisfaction Surveys: Provides an understanding how how the employee perceives the organization and work groups.

Employee Satisfaction Survey: Uses

Uses for Employee Satisfaction Surveys include:

This process can also be a motivator of performance since it shows the employee that their opinions and views are considered important.


Provides a direct means of assessing employee opinions that would otherwise be unreported.

How Employee Surveys are conducted

Checklist of what to do when conducting an employee survey.
  1. Needs Analysis Why is the survey being conducted?
    Meetings are held to determine the goals and objectives, as well as the content of the project. Whether
    implemented through individual interview or focus group this needs
    analysis will ensure that the critical information is gathered in the manner that best fits the customer need and will assist in determining the best method of collecting the data.

  2. Focus Groups Structured meetings to gather qualitative
    information relevant to the survey development.

  3. Survey Design Develop survey instrument by synthesizing
    the information gathered from needs analysis, focus groups and other
    documents available.

    Determine the rating scale to be used:

    1. Strongly agree | agree | (neither agree nor disagree) | disagree | strongly disagree.
    2. Excellent | good | fair | poor
    3. All of the time | most of the time | some of the time | hardly ever | never
    4. To a very great extent | to a great extent | to some extent | to a very little extent | to no extent at all
    5. Very satisfied | satisfied | (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied) | dissatisfied | very dissatisfied
  4. Develop questionnaire A questionnaire used for Employee Opinion Surveys typically contains items that are rated on a 5 point scale. These items may be developed to measure different dimensions of the organization (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership, initiative, management, compensation, ...). Questionnaires also typically include one or more open-ended questions to solicit written feedback.

    Questionnaires typically include from 50 to 100 items. When estimating the amount of time to complete the questionnaire you should estimate about 1 minute per questionnaire item.

    If using a printed questionnaire form, you should consider using forms that can be scanned into a computer.

    It should be noted that the design of a questionnaire is usually an iterative process -- questions are formulated, tested, reformulated, tested, and so on.

  5. Questionnaire Review Examine and critique of an existing survey. The review is conducted to improve the quality of the survey, and to increase the likelihood the customer receives actionable information. Critiques are also performed to increase the probability of high response rates.
  6. Instrument Pre-Test Conduct an instrument pre-test, which is an examination of the data collection instrument by potential respondents. It can be completed for paper-based, as well as electronic and phone based data capture. This may include a series of telephone interviews or focus groups designed to gather feedback on the content, clarity, readability, relevance, length, and comprehensiveness of the item set, as well as the overall experience of completing the instrument.

    Pre-testing can show:

    1. poor question wording or sequencing, as well as errors in layout
    2. problems caused by the length of the questionnaire or the respondents' inability or unwillingness to answer the questions
    3. additional questions or response categories that can be pre-coded on the questionnaire
    4. non-response problems
    5. any negative repercussions the survey may have on employees
  7. Ensure confidentiality of participants Steps must be taken to ensure the confidentiality of the feedback results. For example, the feedback ratings from several employees should be combined (averaged) to mask the identity of an individual employee. Comments or written answers to questions may be summarized in the results to mask the identity of the author. The confidentiality helps ensure that the results are genuine.

  8. Administer the questionnaire Distribute questionnaire forms (if using printed copies) with instructions. May want to prepare answers to common questions if other employees will be assisting in the administration. If possible, post the questions and answers to your website for easy access.

    Administer it to everyone? Or, just a sample?

    1. Advantages of it to everyone:
      All employees are given the opportunity to express their opinions

    2. Advantages of it only to a sample:
      Reduced time to collect and process the data
      Less data to collect
  9. Analyze the data Basic data analysis would include averages of ratings. More complicated analyses may include item-analysis and/or factor-analysis. Types of analyses include: Performance Dimension Summary; Summary-Performance vs. Expected; Individual Item Ratings; Item Ratings-Performance vs. Expected (normed); Highest- or Lowest-Rated Items (shows individual's strengths and weaknesses); Group & Organizational Ranking, and Recommendations for Development.

    You may want to analyze the data by organizational division or department to assess group and organizational strengths and weaknesses. This can be used to support or promote training and organizational development.

  10. Written Interpretive Reports Examine data through written interpretive reports, which summarize the results of your study.

  11. Presentation of Survey Results The analysis of data in report format, or on a variety of other media, such as CD-ROM, diskette, or Internet.

  12. Develop and Distribute Results Feedback results should be shared with the employees.

    You may want to provide individual review sessions or group workshops conducted by a facilitator to help individuals review and understand the results and develop appropriate goals and objectives.


An Employee Opinion Survey process requires a coordinated effort to collect hundreds, or even thousands, of pieces of data. In addition, the validity of the results is enhanced by ensuring confidentiality of the participants.

The survey administration may require time (to complete the questionnaires) and computer resources to analyze the data.

Benefits of using Internet

Fortunately, there are many software companies that offer tools to assist you in conducting this type of feedback process. Some links to these companies can be found at the HR-Software network.


Request a customized free online demo from

Item Selector

If you are interested in developing an employee opinion survey, this would be a good place to get started. Click the link below to access our Item Selector program. This will display a form containing a list of items. Just select the items you want included on your questionnaire and follow the instructions on the form.

Item Selector

Item Bank

Access an item bank containing over 1,600 items.

Item Bank