Why aren't Your Employee Satisfaction Surveys Working? The Complete Guide

Employee satisfaction surveys are a source of mixed feelings and results mashed together. Some employees regard them as pointless, too complex and routine to complete. Others are convinced that the management will not act on those either way. As we can see, something is not right, as  47% of managers report devoting only two to five days per year to analyzing engagement surveys.  

So why are your surveys for employee satisfaction not working?  

The bottom is that surveys are mostly prepared by the HR department, and decisions on changes and amendments are usually made by the management. Hence the goals often differ. 

  • HR department – they focus on employee satisfaction, lower turnover, good atmosphere  
  • Management – they need higher profits, higher productivity of staff 

The solution to this problem certainly exists and is within your reach. In creating surveys, the key is to make them appealing and to choose the right questions to make sure that they correspond to tangible goals. 

In this edition of Grow Uperion’s blog issue, you can count on delving deeper into the benefits of employee satisfaction surveys, their structure and our advice on getting them right.  

Free ebook

7 Challenges You Can Gamify in Your Company


All You need to Know About Employee Surveys  

Employee satisfaction corresponds to how satisfied an employee is regarding various elements of the everyday job experience. What do employee satisfaction surveys measure? It might encompass a wide range of topics, such as corporate culture, communication, the possibility of bonuses or development, level of employee feedback and appreciation, teamwork, problems with coworkers, and workload management.  

This type of survey also identifies the employees' psychological and emotional health and analyzes employee engagement and approach to current policies, as well as company's culture. Well-designed surveys are also a way for the staff to be heard and report any mistreatment or mobbing behaviour if employees are too anxious to voice it directly.  

What is most relevant to grasp about these surveys is their objective. They should examine and target a problem or issue we want to address. It's important to structure the questions according to the specific topic - turnover, absenteeism or lower work performance (including lower motivation). Why? To understand why this is happening, and what can be done to change the situation. At the same time, we should avoid employee satisfaction survey questions which are lengthy, too general or simply pointless. 

What’s more to know? 

Let’s see. For example, you may wonder how many companies use employee satisfaction surveys.  It's not a secret that almost every business tries to measure the staff’s well-being. However, according to the data provided by Forbes, just 22% of organizations achieve successful outcomes thanks to those polls and their analysis. There are several factors why employee engagement survey results have no real impact on employee motivation, productivity, and corporate policies. 

They range from a lack of proper leadership, the divergence between the goals of HR professionals and leaders that were mentioned earlier, up to the fact that organizations are not asking the right questions. Basically, if you have no real control or jurisdiction over changing a particular issue such as raising vacation days or less extra hours, you should avoid bringing up the topic completely. 

How accurate are employee satisfaction surveys? With large surveys consisting of 100 questions that almost no one fills out or does not do so enthusiastically, accuracy is not as high. In addition, if a respondent has a bad mood or a bad week, it will certainly affect their answers and distort the factual picture of things. 

Sadly, even on anonymous surveys, employees may not give the most honest replies as they may be afraid to voice their worries for fear of being identified on the basis of the department or role. 

Employee Satisfaction Surveys - Pros and Cons 

We will now look at the pros and cons of conducting such employee engagement surveys. We know that they are needed to monitor job satisfaction and productivity. They can also be used to gather interesting new ideas and identify abusive leaders. 


  • Identification of possible improvements - it can help you gather valuable employee feedback to strengthen the organization. Perhaps there are problems that HR or management was not even aware of - inadequate communication with a leader or an illogical process that makes the entire team's work slow and sloppy. 
  • Boosts accountability and employee trust - If an employee satisfaction survey is well structured, engaging and carried out frequently enough, it can have a significant impact on employee loyalty and building a warm image of the company. If followed by action and actual change based on results, the greater the benefits. 
  • Anonymity - Anonymity promotes honesty and creates a space to air your grievances, vent emotions and feel that the feedback you leave will have a real impact on the company culture. Accountability and accuracy are enhanced. 
  • Higher Retention – Satisfaction surveys help to determine if higher turnover is imminent - or even prevent it and build high retention over time. When employees feel heard and know that their opinions are taken into account, they will stay longer at the workplace, saving costs and time. 


  • Overdoing it with the amount of information - Often, larger organizations create lengthy employee surveys which, although on the one hand yield a lot of valuable feedback, involve a risk of error. Analysts have to compare huge amounts of data, which poses a threat of focusing on the irrelevant ones and wasting resources and time. 
  • Action makes no sense - As mentioned earlier, conducting surveys for their own sake is not very useful. In a situation where employees know that no one really cares what they bring to the table and that they will have no real influence on change, it increases antipathy and mistrust. 
  • Highlighting and bringing up frustration - If too much attention is paid in an employee satisfaction survey to problematic aspects beyond those aspects of the work environment that workers dislike, an unreal, overly negative image of the company culture may emerge. It's easier to complain than to appreciate, right? 
  • Less accuracy - As we know, enough is as good as a feast - the same is true for frequency. If we inundate an employee with a job satisfaction survey every week or every month, it will only discourage them from completing it thoroughly and honestly - they will do it haphazardly, quickly, just to hand it over. 

How Do You Create a Good Employee Satisfaction Survey? 

First, realize that conducting a good employee satisfaction survey is not a one-time affair. If something goes wrong, such as workers not completing the surveys fully or not completing them at all, there must be a specific cause. Don't be anxious to experiment, but do not repeat the same thing every time. Shorten the survey, change the topic or the form of the questions, ask people what they think or introduce gamification techniques. Let us dive deeper into the subject matter. 

1. Ensure that you have clear, specific questions

...so that employees do not have to ponder their meaning. Let us face it, if you have to spend an extended period of time on a single question, you are likely to move on in frustration or type in a random answer. Avoid rambling and meaningless queries- each part of the survey should include specific questions, that measure employee satisfaction or employee engagement.

2. Adapt the number of surveys to the size of the company

A company with 15 or 20 workers doesn't necessarily need large employee surveys, that's the reality. You can resolve issues faster and more efficiently with face-to-face or one-on-one meetings. However, for firms with more than 50 or 100 workers, an employee satisfaction survey may have more tangible value because there isn't a close and direct relationship between all employees. Here, an intermediary instrument is required. 

3. Anonymity as a safe dialogue with the employer

Though this may seem obvious, it is never too much to emphasize this aspect. If you want your employees to fearlessly speak their minds and dare to make honest, often uncomfortable comments, you must ensure full anonymity. Insincere and politically correct results will not help you and will distort the true picture of corporate life and community spirit. 

4. Take accountability to make results and improvements public

While maintaining anonymity, it is also beneficial to present the overall analysis and survey results, e.g., in the company newsletter or blog. Let people know that something is happening with their answers, and let them see what comes out of it, too. Share your ideas that may facilitate corporate life based on the scores, such as a better parking process or a new promotion system. 

5. Remember that surveys alone are not enough

Don't put too much pressure on creating the perfect survey for employee satisfaction. While they can be very revealing and, if the conditions are favourable, enhance the atmosphere and employee engagement in the organization, they will not do much good without simultaneous regular conversations, feedback and support from the supervisors. After all, we are human beings and need direct communication as much.  

6. Be ready to act

Another fundamental point is to consider conducting employee satisfaction surveys only when we are ready to act on them. There is no point in asking about satisfaction in terms of earnings if the company has no financial means to increase it. It will only raise hope, anger staff, and increase irritation if nothing changes and you have suggested otherwise. Design the questions so that they are realistic and can actually make a difference. 

Satisfied Employees Mean a Profitable Business 

Crafting a decent employee satisfaction survey is not a quick and easy task - it requires probing, consulting, revising and focusing on measuring specific variables. 

But even if the survey is valuable and management is able to improve working conditions based on it, too often its length and tediousness stand in its way. 

The problem of designing a job satisfaction survey so that respondents enjoy completing it can be eased by gamification - the introduction of engaging game elements such as a progress bar, points or challenges. 

Gamification of lengthy surveys boosts participation, timeliness and employee morale for completing them. If you are interested in gamification services for businesses, we invite you to contact us.