What is Employee Satisfaction?

The terms employee satisfaction and employee engagement are often used interchangeably, but as we discuss in this article, employee satisfaction and employee engagement are actually separate concepts. 

Employee engagement refers to the degree to which employees love their work, and continually look for ways to improve their work experience. 

Related: What Does Employee Engagement Look Like, and How Should We Measure It?

Employee satisfaction refers to the degree to which employees are happy with their routine at work, and the expectations that they are required to fulfill. 

Both employee engagement and employee satisfaction are elements that together comprise the bigger product at hand -- employee experience

Both employee engagement and employee satisfaction are metrics used to gauge overall employee sentiment and business value. Surveys are a commonly used tool to collect supporting data in order to quantify these key business metrics. 

Related: Why Employee Engagement Matters to Your Business

Why Should Businesses Focus on Employee Satisfaction?

By consistently measuring employee satisfaction through surveys, businesses are able to shed light on elements of their culture and corporate structure that have room for improvement. 

Identifying gaps in the overall employee experience enables the company to shift overarching strategies to align with the pain points that employees are experiencing.

If your average employee is not truly satisfied with their role and the work that they do, they will be less invested in their projects. As such, key deliverables will be compromised, which ultimately negatively impacts the bottom line.  

Unengaged employees are costly for the business -- costing a business with 170 employees, and average of $8.6 million a year

It’s best practice to remain on the pulse of the state of employee satisfaction by distributing routine surveys. 

But the work doesn’t stop once the survey has been distributed. In fact, employees value action over autopilot. If employees supply feedback time and again and don’t see any changes, they will develop doubt in the process and skepticism in regard to if their opinion even matters. They will feel unheard. 

To avoid this scenario, after analyzing the survey data, ensure you are following-up with employees on their responses. Constantly keep the lines of communication open. 

If employee feedback gathered from surveys is valuable to the business, include the employee in the implementation process. This gives employees so-called skin-in-the-game, while positively impacting levels of loyalty and satisfaction. 

Related: Get The Truth of Employee Satisfaction in 15 Questions or Less

3 Types of Employee Satisfaction Surveys That Will Benefit Your Business

There are three types of employee satisfaction surveys that any business looking to keep their finger on the pulse of how their employees truly feel should distribute on a routine basis. 

Below we go into detail on each of the three types of employee satisfaction surveys. 

Employee Satisfaction Survey #1: Job Satisfaction

The first kind of employee satisfaction survey that you should consider administering to your employees aims to uncover insights into employee job satisfaction. 

In this survey, you’ll want to inquire about how the employee feels about their day-to-day work and job function.

For job satisfaction surveys, we advise that you provide answer options to survey questions on a five or seven point scale, ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” 

Below are some examples of questions to ask in a job satisfaction survey:

  • After a day of work I feel that I have accomplished something meaningful.

  • I have access to the resources necessary to perform my job well.

  • I have clearly defined goals in regard to my job function.

  • My work requires me to use my skills and abilities to the fullest.

  • There is thorough communication down the chain of command when the leadership team makes decisions that will affect my day-to-day.

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your current job?

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with internal corporate communication?

  • Do you feel that you are in a position to learn and grow at the company?

  • Do you have any suggestions for how to improve your satisfaction levels?

  • Are there any other issues that are affecting your satisfaction levels at this company?

Employee Satisfaction Survey #2: Self-Evaluation

The second kind of employee satisfaction survey that you should consider administering to your employees will result in the employees performing a self evaluation of their experiences. 

By asking about the positive experiences that employees have on a day-to-day basis, leadership can derive insights into what the environment is like amongst employees in the office.

For experience-related self-evaluation surveys we advise that you provide answer options to survey questions on a five or seven point scale, ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” 

Below are some examples of experience-related questions to ask in a self-evaluation survey:

  • I feel that I am leveling-up my skill set by being exposed to growth and learning opportunities.

  • I feel that my voice is heard, especially by management and my superiors.

  • My managers and coworkers encourage and push me to be my best.

  • When I apply myself and give as much effort as possible, I feel that I am recognized for that effort.

  • My manager values me.

  • I am able to solve the recurring problems being experienced by customers.

  • Overall, I’m satisfied with my job and the work that I am doing on a daily basis.

For performance-related questions in self-evaluation surveys, we suggest asking employees to compare themselves with an average employee in the same position. 

Answer options can again be a five or seven point scale, but instead of satisfaction levels, the scale should represent percentiles of the average employee. 

For example, the top percentile would be 5 percent of employees, while the bottom percentile would be the bottom 20 percent of employees. 

Below are some examples of performance-related questions to ask in a self-evaluation survey:

  • How would you rate your overall productivity, and the ability to get your job done? 

  • I go beyond what is expected of me on a routine basis.

  • I respond to both internal, and customer-facing communications promptly and effectively, and in the best interest of the company and brand.

  • I would rate my overall quality of the service I provide on a daily basis as a: XX.

  • I spent XX amount of time spent on the tasks that are assigned to me.

Employee Satisfaction Survey #3: Job Retention

The third kind of employee satisfaction survey that we will discuss in this article is a job retention survey.

This survey differs from the two previously mentioned surveys, as each question that is asked to respondents will need to have customized and unique answer options available for selection.

In this survey, you’ll want to ask some preliminary questions that will provide insight into the employee’s job function, the department that they work in, their managerial level, etc. 

Then, ask questions that will allude to how likely the employee is to stay with the company for the long-term.

Below are some examples of questions to ask in a job retention employee satisfaction survey:

  • Which of the following departments of the organization do you work most closely with?

    • Customer Service

    • Finance

    • Sales

    • Marketing

    • HR

    • Other, please write-in

  • Which of the following best describes your role at the company?

    • Clerical

    • Technician

    • Manager

    • Director

    • VP

    • Other, please write-in

  • How long have you worked at the company?

    • Six months or less

    • Six months to one year

    • 1-3 years

    • 3-5 years

    • Five or more years

  • How satisfied are you with your position, overall?

    • Very Dissatisfied

    • Dissatisfied

    • Neutral

    • Satisfied

    • Very Satisfied

  • How motivated are you to see the company succeed in years to come?

    • Very Motivated

    • Somewhat Motivated

    • Not Very Motivated

    • Not At All Motivated

    • I’m not sure

  • Would you recommend this company to friends or family as an enjoyable and fulfilling place to work?

    • Definitely

    • Probably

    • I’m Not Sure

    • Probably Not

    • Definitely Not 

Determining The Appropriate Employee Satisfaction Survey

Each of the three types of employee satisfaction surveys outlined above can prove extremely useful depending on how they fit into your overall employee experience strategy.

By consistently administering these surveys to employees in conjunction with other tools used to measure employee experience, you’ll be able to begin to frame the current state of employee satisfaction. 

Setting benchmarks for internal data as well as industry trends on the average employee satisfaction rate and other key performance indicators will help contextualize your insights.  

For example, identifying which groups of employees are less than extremely satisfied with the work they are doing, and the environment that they are working in, you’ll be able to highlight the areas where there is room for improvement from a leadership and communication perspective.

Surveys are an amazing tool for receiving this feedback due to their flexibility. You can survey one employee at a time, or all of your employees simultaneously. You can choose to direct the most appropriate type of employee satisfaction survey to those employees that would benefit the most from it. 

The possibilities are truly endless! 

In short, when evaluating employee satisfaction rates within your organization, surveys are the go-to tool in your employee experience toolbox.