Employee morale has a huge effect on productivity and employee retention. Its influence extends beyond employee satisfaction into the deeper levels of commitment, known as engagement. If you suspect people in your team might be feeling stressed or frustrated, or the team vibe just feels a bit flat, the sooner you act the better.
But before you decide what the problem is and dive in with your solution, it’s essential to check how employees are really feeling and get their thoughts on how things might be improved. Just asking the right questions can demonstrate the kind of leadership that starts to lift morale, although follow-through with changes will be required for improved morale to stick.
To help you get started on developing questions to suit your situation, this article provides a good range of useful examples. We’ve grouped them under different aspects of employee morale. This can help you create a more complete picture or simply target specific areas of interest.
General happiness at work
Happiness is a good place to start. If someone is not enjoying their work, there’s a good chance they’ll leave at the first opportunity. That can cost you a lot in lost organisational knowledge, recruitment expenses, selection time, the potential for more employees to follow them out the door, and reduced productivity as the replacement comes up to speed.
Employee satisfaction questions:
- Do you think everyone here has a reasonable workload?
- What do you like most about our workplace set up?
- Are there people here you’d call friends?
- How do you feel about coming to work each day?
- What’s improved the most for you here in recent times?
- Can you see how your career could continue to grow here?
Commitment to the organisation
While employee satisfaction is important, it can still mean some people are having fun at work but just doing enough to keep their job. They’ve lost, or never had, the motivation to solve problems, suggest improvements, go the extra mile for customers or promote the organisation socially. This lack of ‘engagement’ can have a profound impact on the success of an organisation. So here are some suggestions to help you develop questions about engagement levels in your organisation and how you might be able to improve them.
Employee engagement questions:
- Could your job be adjusted to make better use of your capabilities?
- What do you think people appreciate most about you at work and how do they show it?
- Has your work provided a difficult challenge recently; if so, how did you feel about working through it?
- After achieving a particularly good result at work, how do you like to reward yourself?
- What are some of the most effective ways people contribute to the team?
- Would you recommend this organisation to others and why?
- How well do you think this organisation lives up to its stated values; which ones are the most important to you personally?
Having time to enjoy life
Environmental concerns, the global pandemic and challenging financial times have accelerated a trend to simpler lifestyles. It’s driving a shift to having smaller homes with fewer things, while enjoying more quality time with family, friends and nature. When you factor in the growing ease of self-employment and the gig economy, helping people to get their work-life balance right has become increasingly important for employers. But where that balance sits is still a personal thing. Someone starting their career and looking to build experience is likely to enjoy more work time in their mix than perhaps a more established worker with a young family would.
Work-life balance is certainly recognised as a major contributor to employee morale. The important thing is to make sure your employees feel they can keep the balance comfortable for them. Here are some examples of the types of questions you might choose to ask.
Work-life balance questions:
- How often do you feel forced to spend extra time at work, just to keep up with demand?
- Has your workload prevented you from attending an important appointment or personal commitment?
- Are you able to disconnect from work after hours or do you feel the need to be ‘always on’?
- How can we streamline your workflow, so you get more time for what you’d like to do?
A culture of two-way communication allows employees to feel they can safely contribute ideas, raise issues and be listened to. It also ensures they understand organisation and team goals, and their role in making them happen. Open, timely communication develops trust and a feeling of being valued. These are all important ingredients of team workplace morale.
Here are examples of questions that can help you assess how employees feel about communication and some aspects of leadership.
Workplace communication questions:
- How do you feel about sharing your ideas during a team discussion?
- If you’re not happy about something at work, who do you normally talk to about it?
- Does your manager provide helpful feedback and show an interest in your welfare?
- When did you last provide feedback to your immediate manager on their performance?
- What could be done to improve conversations and other types of communication here?
- How well do you understand the organisation’s main goals for this year and your role in helping us achieve them?
- How often are unhelpful rumours allowed to spread here in the absence of timely and reliable communication?
Employees spend a lot of time in their work environment, so the general vibe can have a big influence on how they feel. It can range from being proud of where they work, to constantly wishing they were somewhere else. Workplace vibes are influenced by a combination of the physical environment and the organisation’s true culture.
Here are some ideas to help you develop questions that reveal how your employees feel about their workplace.
Workplace environment questions:
- If you were showing friends or family around our workplace, what would you feel most and least proud of?
- Is there anything about your workplace that you think is unsafe, unhealthy or unhelpful?
- Do you have the space, furniture, tools and equipment you need to do your best work?
- Is there anything about the way people behave that’s having a negative impact on how it feels to be here?
- How well do you think we live our organisation’s stated values inside the workplace?
- Is there anything about this organisation that doesn’t feel socially responsible to you?