Effective employee wellbeing survey questions

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HR has long been focused on employee wellbeing, with the pandemic accelerating this trend. There’s a growing realisation of the link between positive wellbeing and positive business outcomes. In this blog, we discuss how you can practically listen to your people with an effective employee wellbeing survey, the key questions to ask and how to ensure that your approach is delivering the right support to every employee and meeting their individual needs.

According to Deloitte, 78% of organisations around the world believe that ensuring the wellbeing of employees is one of the key drivers of organisational performance

In one of our previous blogs, we explored the different dimensions of employee wellbeing and outlined 6 best practice ways to improve your wellbeing strategy. Here, we focus on employee wellbeing surveys and how to maximise their value.

Why employee wellbeing surveys are important

It’s important to understand that collecting feedback from employees around wellbeing delivers two complementary insights:

  1. It allows you to monitor the wellbeing of individuals and then take action to support them where necessary
  2. It allows you to understand how your overall employee wellbeing programme is working, so you can take action to improve its effectiveness

Your feedback programme should cover both aims, but they are best addressed through separate surveys, carried out with different frequencies. You want to be asking employees about their personal wellbeing more often than you survey them about the wider wellbeing programme, where making evidence-based changes and improvements will clearly take longer.

6 key considerations for running a successful employee wellbeing survey

Below we outline the 6 key areas you need to focus to ensure an effective employee wellbeing survey and some example questions to include.

1. Treat everyone as an individual

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to employee wellbeing. Everyone has different levels of mental, physical, emotional and financial wellbeing, and they will change regularly. So don’t make assumptions – base your approach on listening to each employee through regular check-in surveys. 

Use a mix of open and closed employee wellbeing survey questions and provide opportunities for them to give comments while respecting and protecting their personal information.

Example survey questions:

  • I know what is expected of me at work. (Agree/disagree on a five-point Likert scale)
  • I am able to manage my time effectively. (Agree/disagree on a five-point Likert scale)
  • What more could we do to support your wellbeing at work? (Open question)

2. Listen as frequently as possible

With employee wellbeing levels fluctuating, you need to listen regularly – relying on an annual employee engagement survey or performance review will not pick up changes in employee wellbeing quickly enough. Particularly in today’s fast-moving, ever-shifting world, it’s difficult to predict the future and major issues (such as illness or financial issues) can quickly appear out of the blue. You need to understand your employees, their wellbeing at work, stress levels, and any issues that may impact their mental and physical health.

Surveys don’t have to be long – as a rule of thumb the more often you collect feedback, the shorter the survey itself should be. You can run weekly check-ins where you ask just a couple of questions to take the pulse of your people.

Also, make sure you run surveys at particularly stressful times – such as around the move back to the office or the adoption of home or hybrid working. Do your employees feel confident about these changes?

Example survey questions:

  • How was your week? (Response on a five-point Likert scale)
  • What wellbeing improvements would you like to see? (Open question)

3. Go deeper to find root causes

When looking at the factors that impact employee wellbeing across your organisation, start with the bigger picture and then drill down. That means running larger surveys first and then following up with a subset of employees, using their responses as a starting point to get to the bottom of an issue. This could be through a second survey, a focus group, or a face-to-face meeting, depending on the sensitivity of the topic.

For example, if feedback on the work environment is that it’s contributing to poor physical wellbeing and damaging the employee experience, a team could be set up to collect more evidence and look at ways of making positive changes.

Example survey questions:

  • I have access to the equipment and systems I need to work effectively. (Agree/disagree on a five-point Likert scale)
  • My employer is doing enough to support my health and wellbeing. (Agree/disagree on a five-point Likert scale)

4. Use the right language

Every survey should aim to be engaging and clear. You don’t want employees to misunderstand a question and consequently give an answer that doesn’t provide useful data. This is particularly true of employee wellbeing surveys, given the sensitivity and personal nature of the questions. Ensure your language is open and supportive without being seen as challenging or patronising.

Build up to more emotionally involved wellbeing questions or ask them in non-judgemental ways. Start with easier questions, asked in accessible ways.

Example survey questions:

  • How has your week been? – Rather than “How are you feeling?”
  • I am able to manage my time effectively. (Agree/disagree on a five-point Likert scale)

5. Focus on effective employee wellbeing survey questions

An employee wellbeing survey, as with all feedback, should balance length with usefulness to avoid survey fatigue. Try and ask the minimum number of questions to build a picture, rather than putting employees off with long and complex surveys that are time-consuming to complete. 

Ensure you have a good balance of closed and open questions – asking for ideas and feedback is vital to understanding what employees want and how current practices can be transformed.

Think about the following categories for your employee wellbeing surveys:

  • Mindset – does the employee feel trusted and know what is expected of them?
  • Support and collaboration – does the employee have the equipment, training and environment to deliver at their best?
  • Care – does the employee feel that their line manager/employer cares and supports their overall wellbeing? Do they have a positive work-life balance?
  • Feedback on the current wellbeing programme/ideas for improvement

As well as the sample questions in this blog, there are many survey template resources you can visit to gain inspiration for your questions, including: 

6. Go beyond surveys

Collecting and acting on feedback through employee wellbeing surveys should just be part of your strategy. Normalising discussions about the subject and making people a central part of an open, supportive culture is vital to improving employee wellbeing. For example:

  • Mental health charity MIND recommends building “temperature checks” (regular one-to-ones and open dialogue) into the organisation’s culture.
  • The NHS People Plan asks that all employees have a health and wellbeing conversation, normally with their line manager, and is helped to develop a personalised wellbeing plan.

Conclusion

Considering your employees’ wellbeing is an important part of creating a healthy and sustainable company culture where employees feel supported, and a strategic employee wellbeing survey approach can help you check in on your people proactively.

However, as with every feedback exercise, simply listening is not enough – you need to act on the insights and then communicate the results and changes you have made to your people. This will improve the overall experience, boost employee engagement and encourage greater participation in wellbeing programmes that benefit both the business and your employees.

Tivian can help. Our range of employee experience tools empowers your employee wellbeing strategy and helps you get actionable insights to make meaningful improvements. Explore our transformative solutions.

Discover how Tivian can support your employee wellbeing programme