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It is a good business practice to stay in-tune with your employees, but the tide has shifted where this can no longer happen just once a year during a performance review. Some companies have built very open cultures, where employees feel they can share their thoughts openly with management and more importantly, have management listen and enact change.

However, logistics can get in the way of making this a reality. Some organizations may be too large to give every employee equal time or they might lack the expertise to know where to start. An efficient way to reach all of your employees is through surveys. Surveys allow employers to ask exactly what they want, when they want. Employees can respond honestly, thoroughly, anonymously, and on their own time. It’s a win-win.

Surveys should be created thoughtfully. They must be carefully crafted to not unintentionally promote a bias which entices employees to answer a specific way, and just as important, is that employers must know what they want to measure. Most commonly, employers use surveys to measure employee satisfaction or employee engagement. While some may use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same. Below, we discuss the differences between measuring employee satisfaction and employee engagement, and provide a few helpful tips to begin creating and administering your own employee survey.

employee engagement vs. employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction vs. employee engagement

Employee satisfaction

Satisfaction is a measure of happiness. With an employee satisfaction survey you are looking to find how an employee feels about her or his current position and working conditions. With employee satisfaction, you are getting information on how well the employee is able to fulfill their own needs and desires at work.

Employee engagement

Engagement is a measure of commitment; how dedicated are your employees to your organization and mission? Are they motivated to succeed? Will they go above and beyond to help your company reach its goals? You could say that while employee satisfaction describes a “what can you do for me” mentality, an engaged employee has a “what can we do together” mindset.

Generally, engaged employees exhibit higher morale, more loyalty to an organization, and lower turnover. Which in turn can make an organization more competitive and drive greater organizational success. The ultimate goal is to have a mutual commitment, or partnership established between employer and employee.

employee engagement and employee satisfaction surveys

Tips for Creating Employee Satisfaction & Employee Engagement Surveys

There are handy survey generators like Qualtrics and Survey Monkey that provide templates for employee satisfaction and employee engagement surveys. However, what you include is largely dependent on what your organizational needs are, what you are measuring, and how you want to measure it. It might be beneficial to start with a template, and customize the survey questions from there in order to best meet your needs.

Now that we’ve established some clear distinctions between employee satisfaction and employee engagement, what elements do we need to evaluate to get greater insight into our employees?

Employee Satisfaction Survey

Remember, with an employee satisfaction survey, you are assessing the state of your workforce and how well their expectations and needs are being met. Some factors you might want to measure include:

  • Health/wellness benefits and programs
  • Compensation
  • Manager’s performance
  • Career development
  • Work environment

Employee Engagement Survey

There is some debate regarding which dimensions accurately and sufficiently measure employee engagement. Again, it takes a good understanding of your workforce, what you want to measure, and how you want to do it in order to create an effective employee engagement survey. Some factors you might want to measure include:

  • Leadership behavior
  • Nature of work
  • Career training and development
  • Company pride
  • Relationship with colleagues
  • Intention to stay with your organization
  • Likelihood to recommend company – Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS)
  • Motivation to go above and beyond for your organization

Surveys, whether administered frequently or constantly (pulse surveys) are a great way to stay in sync with your most important asset – your employees. Taking the time to understand who works for you and what they need is a business practice that will serve you well now, and in the future.