Employee Engagement

Goodbye survey fatigue: How to choose the questions that count for your employee survey

April 9, 2024

Naomi Lucking


Unmind Product Spotlight: Calendar Reminders


These simple, science-informed questions give you the insight you need to take action

As an HR or People leader, employee surveys are crucial for getting a pulse of your workforce. They give you business-critical insight into wellbeing, engagement, productivity, attrition risk and more.

But when employees are overloaded with lengthy surveys and don’t see any action taken as a result, it can lead to survey fatigue. Over time, they stop bothering to complete your surveys. 

The following questions will help you begin to measure some key areas of employee wellbeing and engagement, which in turn drive productivity and retention. They get to the heart of what makes us thrive. 

They’re quick and easy to answer and, most importantly, give you the insight you need to take decisive action. 

Ask how far your employees agree with these statements:

1. I feel connected to the people I work with in a meaningful way

Measures: Social Wellbeing

This question measures whether employees feel included, valued and accepted by their colleagues. 

People fundamentally like to belong, and the relationships employees have at work really matter. Feeling part of a group, team or community contributes to our sense of identity and our self-esteem, which influences our performance at work. 

This has been supported by the University of Oxford’s Wellbeing Research Centre, where researchers found that belonging is one of the top three drivers of employee wellbeing (interestingly this was different from what employees said was most important to them – salary and flexibility).1 

Social support also acts as a buffer against the challenges we experience at work. When things get busy and the pressure piles up, feeling that our colleagues and managers are there for us helps us cope with the demand. 

The move to remote and hybrid work can make it harder to cultivate that sense of belonging and some employees are at risk of becoming isolated. It’s vital that the organization takes an active role in connecting people and promoting inclusion. 

Getting a pulse on belonging in your employee survey is a great way to identify those at risk and certain teams or areas of the business that may need extra focus. 

2. If I made a mistake at work I’d feel safe to talk about it

Measures: Psychological Safety

This question measures psychological safety – the extent to which employees feel safe to voice their opinions, share their ideas, and take risks without fear of humiliation or retribution. This is essential not only for employee wellbeing, but to enable everyone to do their best work. 

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most innovative companies actively encourage failure. Astro Teller, Managing Director at Google X (Google’s semi-secret research and development facility responsible for the development of driverless cars) says, "You must reward people for failing. If not, they won't take risks and make breakthroughs."2

Everyone within the organization has some responsibility for building a psychologically safe culture. Asking this question will give you an idea of the current level of psychological safety within your workplace, and allow you to identify specific teams or areas of the business that may need dedicated focus. 

3. I feel motivated by the company’s mission

Measures: Engagement

Feeling aligned with the company’s mission – like the work we do on a day-to-day basis matches up with our personal goals and values – is critical. Feeling out of step can lead to what Gallup has termed "misalignment burnout".3

Low scores here don’t necessarily mean a fundamental misalignment, but could indicate a lack of clear communication from senior leadership. 

Getting crystal clear on the company’s mission, and communicating it clearly and consistently, won’t only help engage employees, but make sure you’re able to attract those who are most likely to thrive within your organization. 

4. I am trusted to get my work done 

Measures: Autonomy

A survey by Slack4 showed that employees who feel trusted at work report 2.1x better focus, 2x higher productivity and 4.3x greater overall satisfaction with work.

When employees feel trusted, they gain a sense of autonomy over their work which is a key driver of performance. A lack of autonomy can lead to 'learned helplessness'5 – a state where employees stop taking initiative or acting on their ideas due to a belief that they have no control over outcomes. 

Low scores in this question might indicate micromanagement. Managers need to provide adequate support while giving their teams the trust and the space to take ownership of their own work – it’s not an easy balance to get right, especially for managers with multiple direct reports needing different levels of support. 

Training, such as Unmind Leadership training, can help managers to build supportive and trusting relationships.

5. I am able to play to my strengths at work

Measures: Fulfilment

Being able to play to our strengths at work gives us a sense of satisfaction which is important for our mental health. If we feel we're using our strengths, we're likely to be more engaged and productive. 

A low score here may also mean that the organization is missing out on the valuable skills of its employees. 

Offering opportunities for employees to use and develop their skills can improve intrinsic motivation, where employees do their work not just because they have to, but because it’s interesting and satisfying. 

As well as offering learning and development opportunities, it’s important for the organization to be open minded about career progression. Enabling sideways moves around the company as well as the more traditional path upwards can reduce attrition risk as employees don’t necessarily have to look elsewhere to make changes. 

6. I am progressing towards my goals 

Measures: Self Efficacy

A feeling of personal growth is crucial to our wellbeing and our motivation. 

It’s common to ask questions focussed specifically on development opportunities within the company in engagement surveys, and while promotions and pay rises are certainly important, they’re not the be all and end when it comes to growth. 

Productive activity – whether it’s work, volunteering or a hobby – contributes significantly to our overall health, and that in turn drives our productivity at work.6 Contrary to popular belief, our personal goals contribute to, rather than distract from, our work.

Plus, according to MHI research, one of the top contributors to productivity at work is an individual’s sense of self-efficacy – our belief that we can overcome things and accomplish our goals.7 

The important thing isn’t exactly what our goals are, but that we have goals and we believe that we can achieve them. 

7. I trust the senior leaders in my organization to make decisions that are in the best interests of employee mental health and wellbeing

Measures: Senior Leadership Support

A lack of trust in leadership can lead to a sense of disillusionment, lower engagement and higher attrition risk. 

Low scores here don’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with leadership itself. More often than not, a lack of trust in leadership comes down to a lack of transparency and communication. 

A common misconception among leaders is that they need to know all the answers before they communicate. But according to Gallup, trust in leadership was at an all time high in the early days of the pandemic8, arguably when leaders felt the least clear about what the future would hold. Ultimately, authentic leaders are trusted leaders. 

8. Overall, my job has a positive impact on my wellbeing

Measures: Wellbeing

Last but certainly not least, this question is the fundamental measure of your organization’s culture. This measures the net positive impact of the organization on its employees.

Better wellbeing ultimately leads to improved productivity. Researchers from Harvard and Oxford universities found that the top 100 happiest companies have outperformed S&P 500 and Dow Jones by 20% since 2021.9 

Plus, an employee who feels that their role has a positive impact on their life will build a reciprocal sense of commitment towards the organization, increasing their engagement. 

In other words, if an employee feels that their work positively impacts their life, they won’t be looking for another job any time soon. 

To find out how Unmind can help you understand and measure employee wellbeing, book a call.


1 The key drivers of workplace wellbeing: Tapping into the hidden gems of happiness, Indeed, July 6, 2021

2 Secret Google lab 'rewards staff for failure', BBC, January 24, 2014

3 A Psychologist Explains ‘Misalignment Burnout’—When Your Job Isn’t Your Purpose, Gallup, March 3, 2024

4 New research reveals trust is the key driver of productivity, Slack, July 26, 2023

5 Learned Helplessness in Organizations, Harvard Business Review, June 5, 2012

6 Sarah D. Pressman et al, Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being, Psychosomatic Medicine, September 2009

7 Jacqueline Brassy et al, Emotional Flexibility and General Self-Efficacy: A pilot training intervention study with knowledge workers, PLOS One, 2020

8 Why Trust in Leaders Is Faltering and How to Gain It Back, Gallup, 17 April, 2023

9 Workplace Wellbeing and Firm Performance, University of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, May, 2023