10 Direct Questions That Will Help You Understand and Improve Employee Engagement


Employee engagement, one of the most important factors affecting business success, is often defined as the emotional commitment employees have to the organization and its goals. Companies everywhere desire a highly engaged workforce because engaged employees invest their full effort and energy into their work. However, to improve employee engagement, you first need to understand just how emotionally invested your employees are in the company, which is a challenge since emotions are subjective and experiences vary from person to person.

Employee engagement can't be measured by external factors. Two people in the same position, with the same salary and manager, can have radically different levels of engagement. Since you can't rely on what you know to be true about external factors to measure engagement, you have to look inward at your employees' experiences to understand their emotional commitment. Their experiences at work shape their view of the company. By dialing into these experiences with direct questions that empower your employees to give you the honest truth, you can understand your current level of employee engagement. Here are 10 direct questions that will help you understand and improve employee engagement in the workplace:

1. Do you understand the company’s mission and values?

Research has found that when people feel aligned with company values, they’re more likely to be engaged. By asking employees if they understand your company’s values, you gain insights into how deeply they connect with those values.

2. What does it take to be successful here?

How employees answer this question can tell you how they think about success and whether they see it as attainable in the company. If people say they don’t know what it takes to be successful, or that success is difficult or impossible, frustrations in this area could be impeding their engagement.

3. Has the company set you up to succeed?

Learning and development opportunities are powerful catalysts for success at work. Research has found that when employees have opportunities for learning and development, they’re more likely to be engaged. Asking employees if they are positioned to succeed helps you understand if they see the company as a support or a hindrance to their success.

4. Are you happy working here?

Engagement isn’t the same as happiness, but asking employees if they’re happy helps you learn the truth of their experience at work. A follow-up question of, “Why or why not?” can also help you uncover which aspects of work life are driving engagement (or disengagement).

5. Do you have the resources to do your job well?

The “tools of the trade” are necessary resources for success in any job. It’s difficult for people to feel engaged if they feel they lack the basic resources required to be effective.

6. Does your work align with the company’s goals and objectives?

People need to know that what they do impacts the company in a meaningful way. If they don’t, that could help indicate (and explain) low engagement.

7. Does your manager recognize your efforts and contributions?

Research shows that when managers provide recognition and demonstrate their interest in employee growth, engagement is higher. Many forms of recognition—a note of thanks or kudos in a team meeting—are easy to give, but when employees don’t get that recognition, or don’t get enough of it, they’re unlikely to be engaged.

8. Does your manager support your goals?

In addition to performance goals, employees also have goals related to their career aspirations and overall professional growth. Support from managers helps employees realize their managers care and encourages employees to return that support with added effort and enthusiasm toward their work.

9. Do you enjoy working with your current team?

Positive relationships with coworkers can help improve engagement. In SHRM’s 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report, 77 percent of study participants reported that relationships with coworkers were the top driver of their engagement at work.

10. Are your teammates accountable to one another?

For any team or organization to be effective, each member needs to live up to their commitments and deliver what’s promised. For employees to commit themselves to the organization and its goals, they need to see others as committed and accountable as well.

Every employee’s experience in the workplace is different, but you can better understand those experiences by asking direct questions that encourage employees to share their truth. Armed with the knowledge of what truly engages employees, you can take targeted actions to address areas of concern and improve employee engagement.

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