Is an Employee Satisfaction Survey Enough to Rate Workplace Happiness?

The most common questionnaires, presented as have-to-do exercises and chasing employees with reminders to fill them in, fall short of key characteristics of valuable data, namely:

  • They rarely produce actionable ideas;
  • They are poorly visible to everyone involved;
  • They are not (or cannot) be interpreted in combination with other business stats.

Let’s look at these problems as motives to reshape your traditional satisfaction surveys, and to find alternative ways for measuring the vibe at the office.

Actionable Ideas

The average engagement score of a survey when managers do not review, or take action on, its results, is only 27%. Meanwhile, the same metric builds up to 63% when managers successfully utilize the answers to produce actionable ideas. It couldn’t be clearer: employee satisfaction surveys matter only when they have an impact.

Drawing a list of to-do’s from the answers within the “agree - disagree” or other similar scale is a challenging task and at the same time, an unnecessary struggle. To avoid it, instead of sending out traditional questionnaires, you can engage employees in a feedback loop, with an emphasis on their input. Call for ideas with open questions, request to describe the desired change, and the steps to boost happiness at the workplace should get revealed organically.

While the feedback collection does not involve straightforward queries about employee satisfaction, it still yields some quality insights on the matter. As engagement manifests through contribution, the happiest employees are those who care about their workplace and their team. Therefore, the amount of input an individual provides is a good indicator of motivation and personal relationship with the workplace.


Extensive questionnaires take time to process, and often there’s a big gap between the moment the satisfaction survey is sent and the day the results are shared with employees. Although received with great interest, at the point of publication they might even turn out to be outdated. But with some creativity, the pulse of the workplace can be measured and displayed daily.

David Tomas, the founder of Cybercklick, and the author of the book “The Happiest Company in the World”, recommends Traffic Light games. It’s all about asking simple questions (“how productive do you feel today?”) that could be answered instantly, by picking a meaningful symbol such as color (green, yellow, red), or emoticon (smiling, neutral, sad). This quick mood check-in can be seamlessly organized as an online survey or by using special devices, just as seen at the supermarket’s cashier desks or airport’s restrooms.

The simplicity of this game allows sharing the results as they are collected via a dedicated portal or an internal narrowcasting system, and therefore, bringing more visibility on the level of employee satisfaction to everyone. Transparent information promotes inclusion, dialogue, and prevents delayed management responses.

Combined Metrics

So far, we have been talking about ways to twist a traditional employee satisfaction survey to get the most out of it. But we still need to answer the question if it’s a sufficient tool to assess happiness at the workplace. Well, any headline that ends with a question mark can be answered with a “no”, claims Betteridge’s law of headlines. This article is no exception: satisfaction surveys cannot be solely used to determine how successful the work climate is.

To leverage the plentitude of business data to your advantage, it is essential to remember that it is not only about the numbers, but also about the patterns. The raw percentage of employees unsatisfied with their team leader will not be as informative as its possible correlation with absenteeism or job rotation metrics. The happiness with the workload can be discovered in a brand new light when compared with the rate of successful new hires or quality stats. The more variables are taken into consideration, the broader questions can be answered, so you should strive to mix and match your business data for the most informative findings.

Top Performance Management Tools

As a conclusion, to find answers, you have to ask questions - that’s what surveys are for. The best are the ones which produce actions for improvement, are easy to track, and can be interpreted with other business information. Here are our favourite performance management tools to achieve this:

A solution designed to connect teams and managers through feedback. It allows users to create short pulse surveys, custom polls, track feedback anonymously and observe key engagement metrics. As a safe space to share thoughts, Officevibe offers an in-app messaging functionality with an option to keep it anonymous. The reporting feature presents all information in a user-friendly format, opening ways for data comparison and benchmarking. Survey results can be easily shared with the team to discuss what they mean and decide on improvements together.

A continuous performance management suite offering simple yet powerful features to help you bring out the best of your people. Some of them are forward-looking 360° performance reviews, a High Five Dashboard to celebrate your peers, and quick pulse check surveys. To turn employee feedback into swift action, the software allows managers to quickly add responses to the upcoming meeting agenda, making their face time with employees more effective and focussed on solutions. With 15Five, you can ask quantitative questions (one-time polls) and see the data over time on the trends dashboard.

To be updated.

Topics: Human resources

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