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What is an Employee Attitude Survey?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated May 16, 2024
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An employee attitude survey, also called an employee opinion survey, is a tool used by employers to measure employees' attitudes about their workplace environment. Its general purpose is to pinpoint problems and make improvements within the company or organization, with the goal of enhancing employee morale and productivity. An employee attitude survey might be given to measure employee satisfaction, to identify training and development needs, to improve communications between managers and employees and for various other reasons. Employee attitude surveys might be given at regular intervals to monitor employee opinions continuously or in relation to specific needs assessments, depending on the surveying company or organization.

Employee attitude surveys are given online, on paper or via telephone or face-to-face interviews. A survey might be given to all of a company’s employees, to a sampling of employees or to a specific employee population depending on the reason for the survey. Companies often hire outside consulting organizations that specialize in developing employee attitude surveys. These outside companies might both develop and administer surveys, or they might develop them and have them administered by a division within the original company, such as the human resources department.

The questions on an employee attitude survey often are multiple choice, with employees designating whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree or are undecided about a particular statement. Employee attitude surveys might also ask open-ended or yes-or-no questions, or they might contain a combination of question formats. Questions often are divided into specific sections that ask how well employees think the company is doing in certain areas. Common measurement areas found on employee attitude surveys include overall satisfaction with the organization, compensation, benefits and working conditions. Other measurement areas include safety concerns, recognition and rewards, career development, corporate culture and more.

Just a few typical questions from employee attitude surveys, which might contain dozens of questions, include: "My manager recognizes me when I do a good job," "I am able to get the information I need to do my job well" and "I feel satisfied with my pay and benefits." Following administration of an employee attitude survey containing these types of questions, the responses are analyzed, and areas for improvement are identified. Then companies typically put plans in place to address areas for improvement that were identified from results of the survey. The survey results and the improvement plans are then communicated to employees. When companies give surveys at regular intervals, surveys can measure the effects of changes over time.

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Discussion Comments
By SkyWhisperer — On Dec 08, 2011

@MrMoody - I filled out one of those surveys once. We did something similar, reviewed the results at a company meeting.

One of the questions on the survey was, “I feel very satisfied with my job.” Well, I chose “Strongly Disagree.” I had felt very frustrated at the job, because I had been put in a position where I wasn’t doing something that I excelled at, despite applying myself to it.

The funny thing was that in the meeting, only one person out of the whole company had written strongly disagree for that question. Nobody knew it was me, of course, but the boss openly said in the meeting that he didn’t know who that person was, and if they felt that strongly, they should leave.

On that point, I strongly agree. In two weeks I am starting a new job.

By MrMoody — On Dec 07, 2011

Last week we were all asked to fill out an employee satisfaction questionnaire. It was the first time that we had ever filled out such a survey, at least during my time at the company.

I think it was long overdue. The survey was completed online and completely anonymous, so the company had no idea who filled out what or who wrote the comments. After the survey was completed we all had an employee meeting and reviewed the results of the survey.

It was very illuminating and gave the boss an idea of what everyone was feeling. The thing that everyone agreed upon was that there was too much “drama” and employee conflict going on, and that the best way to defuse the tension would be to avoid all forms of gossip, or talk to people directly if you had problems with them.

I’m glad we had the meeting. I think everyone benefited.

By Mykol — On Dec 07, 2011

The only times I have had a chance to take part in an employee attitude survey was when I was doing an exit interview survey when I was leaving a job.

Depending on the reason I was leaving, I always felt like it was a little late to be getting my opinion on anything.

Regardless of the reason, I always tried to answer these honestly and hope that it might make a difference for the next person they hired.

Sometimes you wonder if companies really take these surveys to heart of if it is just another formality you have to go through.

By John57 — On Dec 06, 2011

As long as employee attitude surveys can be taken anonymously, I think they can be helpful. I think sometimes people would be too afraid of losing their job if they really said what they were thinking and feeling.

If a company is able to get honest results from a survey like this, that should go a long way in helping them make improvements within the company.

If I had my own business, I would want to get an honest, true perspective of how my employees felt about their job and the company in general.

When employees are happy and feel like they matter, that makes all the difference in their performance and work attitude.

I see employee attitude surveys as being win-win situations all the way around. It is good for the employees to express how they feel without fear of losing their job, and gives the company helpful feedback.

By wander — On Dec 05, 2011

@MrSmirnov - You should be able to find different samples of employee attitude surveys if you search for things like "employee engagement surveys" online. I have found that you can get a lot of free samples through the different human resources and business management sites

Once you have seen the kinds of questions out there I would just make up your own survey and print it out. This way you can tailor all of the questions to make sure you focus the survey for your business. Also, doing it anonymously is best, as people don't usually criticize as honestly when they know you know who they are.

By MrSmirnov — On Dec 04, 2011

Does anyone know where I can go to take a look at a sample employe attitude survey?

I run my own small business and am thinking about giving my employees a survey to get a feel for their happiness level. As were a smaller business I like to think that doing a staff survey would be a good way for people to vent anything that has been bothering them with the way the business works.

I would like so survey examples though, so I know what to ask. I don't want to put anyone in a position that makes them feel uncomfortable. Actually, on that note, I may make the survey anonymous.

By lighth0se33 — On Dec 03, 2011

Has anyone ever filled out an employee motivation survey? I am the manager of an office, and I think this might be a good way to discover what I could do to improve the employees' job performance.

I have looked at several examples of this type of survey online, and I think that probably the best one would be the kind that lets employees write down their ideas. I could do a multiple choice, with questions such as, “Which of the following would most motivate you to sell more?” and answers like “a semi-annual bonus check,” “paid time off,” or “cash prizes.”

Which do you think would be most effective? There are some things I could not offer my employees, and sticking to a multiple choice format could give them a better idea of what I could give them. However, I would like to know about any fresh, creative ideas they might have, and a looser survey would work best for this.

By Perdido — On Dec 02, 2011

I have to fill out a very generic employee satisfaction questionnaire every six months, and I don't feel that it is very useful. I work at a branch of a big corporation, and the questionnaires are sent to the main office in New York. That really can't help me much in Wisconsin.

Every single question is multiple choice, and the answers range from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” There is no comment box for suggested improvements, and all the higher-ups get out of this survey is an overall feel of either satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

By StarJo — On Dec 02, 2011

@cloudel – It's terrible when an organization sacrifices the happiness of its employees just to make a few bucks. Without realizing it, they are doing away with their most valuable resource.

I'm grateful that my workplace still cares about what we think. The employee attitude survey questions are always meant to be answered in full, so there are no multiple choice questions. We are free to write a detailed description of our feelings on every subject.

Because of this, more employees are satisfied. Just knowing that what you think matters can make your job more valuable to you.

By cloudel — On Dec 01, 2011

The place where I work used to conduct yearly employee attitude surveys, but they stopped doing this once they began to be in trouble financially. They were struggling to survive, and they had informed everyone that raises and bonuses would be postponed until business picked up.

Morale dropped to an all-time low. We all felt like the bosses no longer cared about our needs. If we had taken such a survey, the results would have all been negative, and the managers knew this.

Several people left the company during this time. There was a lot of backbiting going on, and everyone knew they could be eliminated without warning. We all longed for the days of surveys, when our opinions and feelings mattered, and things really could change.

By mutsy — On Dec 01, 2011

@Icecream17 -The only employee retention surveys that I have ever participated in were when I left a job and the company wanted to know why I was leaving.

I wonder if companies really read these surveys and change for the better. I think that a lot could be gained from this type of exit survey because it could tell you what some of the other employees might be feeling and why this person left. Sometimes people leave for reasons unrelated to the company, but those are rare.

By icecream17 — On Nov 30, 2011

@Crispety - More companies should do these types of employee job satisfaction surveys because if the company learns what motivates an employee to perform better they would be able to determine how to offer that environment to the employee or find other employees that are more suitable for the company’s culture.

When employees are happy they are the most productive and that is what every company wants. Companies that are in touch with their employees feelings usually do well financially and almost always have very little employee turnover because no one wants to leave the company.

I feel that survey management is also important because the employee satisfaction survey has to be written in the most objective way possible so that the questions are not leading the employee to answer the questions the way the company would like them to because then the results would be meaningless.

By Crispety — On Nov 30, 2011

I think an employee retention survey is a great way for a company to find out how to retain qualified employees. People that are the most productive can share insight as to why their productivity is high and those that are not so productive can also explain their reasons why.

Sometimes companies can make small adjustments in the work environment that will yield great results. For example, if a worker that is not so productive states that they need to take time off from work to care for their children then the company could consider offering more flexible hours or even an onsite daycare.

This would surely make a person that also has to care for their children focus on their job more because their other primary concern was eliminated.

The best surveys allow the respondents to elaborate on their feelings and don’t use only the generic yes or no answer to qualify the answer.

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