How to Ask Deep Questions to Build a Culture of Happiness at Work

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Top 5 Most Desirable Employee Benefits (2)

Employee happiness is crucial to the success of an organization. Happy employees are more engaged and more productive. According to Gallup's State of the American Workforce report, businesses with more engaged employees have 21% higher productivity levels than those with lower scores. 


Their employees are more innovative, creative, and likely to produce the best work. This results in happier customers and an improved bottom line. 


A great way to ensure that you build a strong culture of happiness in your workplace is by regularly surveying employees so you can get valuable feedback to guide you on what is and isn't working in your business.


But, for your employee happiness surveys to be effective, you need to ask the right questions.


Read the rest of this article to discover how your business can ask its employees more profound questions to build a culture of happiness at work.


How to Craft the Right Questions


The quality of the feedback you get from your employee engagement survey is directly correlated to the quality of the questions you ask. 


That's why it's essential to take the time to come up with deep, revealing questions that are contextualized for your company's existing culture so you can get the insights you need to develop a strong culture of employee happiness. Write the questions clearly and competently. For you to do so, you must first understand the things that actually matter to employee happiness and satisfaction. 


These include:

  • Employee recognition regularly
  • Employee empowerment
  • Perks above the industry average
  • Compensation above the industry average
  • Respectful and considerate treatment

Your questions need to be able to cut to the truth to determine the real level of satisfaction and happiness within your organization. 


Below are some examples of effective employee engagement/satisfaction/happiness questions to better understand this concept.


You can have a mix of questions from the following categories:

  1. Questions related to the actual job
  2. Questions related to workplace culture
  3. Questions related to the management

You must also include different types of questions to ensure you get the best quality answers. These include:


Yes/No questions, such as: 

  • Do you feel that your work is appreciated?
  • Are your responsibilities and goals on the job clearly defined?
  • Do you often have to take your work home with you? 

5-answer Likert scale questions, such as: 

  • How satisfied are you with your current job?
  • How would you rate your work-life balance?
  • How valued do you feel at work?
  • How likely are you to recommend [company name] as an employer?

Answers range from Very Satisfied, Satisfied, Neutral, Unsatisfied, Very Unsatisfied.


Open questions, such as: 

  • Are there other issues not mentioned here that you would like us to address?
  • What is your favorite part of your job?
  • What motivates you to come to work each day?
  • Is there anything about your job that you really don't like? 

Here's an example of different types of questions on an employee satisfaction survey:





Assaf Cohen, who runs gaming platform Solitaire Bliss, explains, "We've found open-ended questions to be particularly useful. We often get insights and suggestions that we wouldn't have discovered otherwise. For instance, through open-ended questions, it became clear that our team wanted more insight into the roadmap of solitaire games we were planning on building."


How to Solicit High-Quality Feedback from Individual Employees


Although you may be tempted to ask many specific questions and provide employees with space to write lengthy answers, you're more likely to get more actionable information if you opt for brevity. 


To ensure the quality of your feedback, it's also important to be explicit about the survey's confidentiality so that employees have the peace of mind of knowing their answers will remain anonymous. 


This way, you'll also be sure of getting more surveys completed with frank and honest feedback.


Make sure you limit the number of questions to between 15 and 20, most of which are multiple-choice, with a range between Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree [or something similar].


Facilitate Even Deeper Discussions


In addition to asking questions of your individual employees, you can also facilitate deeper discussions with small groups or one-on-one meetings designed around these questions. 


This will help you get more in-depth feedback for even more valuable insights to drive positive change in your company culture


One of the immediate benefits of these individualized or group meetings is that it makes possible actual conversation. A survey can only tell you so much. Even if employees answer honestly, all you have is a question with an answer. You're missing out on the human substance that generates happiness in the workplace. 


When conducting these surveys, connecting with your employees and showing genuine care about their needs and desires is the most important thing to keep in mind. This human connection is what generates real happiness. 


Talking and listening to them is one of the best ways to create human connection and help grow a culture of happiness at work.


Reach Employees Where They're At


Individualized meetings may not always be possible. In these situations, it's essential to make sure that you reach your employees where they're most likely to see the survey. Using some of the best email marketing services will allow you to send personalized emails with the survey and instructions for completion.


You can also post surveys on internal boards, project management software, or other communications channels. While reaching each individual personally is optimal, that may be impossible, so use proper channel management to figure out the best way to reach your employees. 


It may be advantageous to ask them a preliminary question via email, asking them how they prefer to be reached before sending the survey. If you show interest in your employee's needs and desires before sending the survey, you show them care that nurtures the culture of happiness you're trying to create. 


Organize & Apply the Data Retrieved


Once you've collected the data you need, it's time to analyze it and review the results. This process involves slicing and dicing your data to compare various demographics in your organization. 


To better understand your results, visualize your data using charts and graphs.


This will give you a more complete picture pertaining to your unique employee perceptions. The deeper you sift through the data, the more you'll learn about the level of engagement, commitment, and motivation of your employees and their sense of purpose. 


When reviewing and analyzing your employees' answers, use the tips below to help you do so effectively. 

  • Evaluate Favorability: Overall favorability encompasses a combination of all the responses that are either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" ["strongly agree" or "agree," etc.] A score of at least 70% is considered healthy.
  • Look for Themes: Do your best to notice any common themes in the survey answers, such as the most favorable/least favorable key drivers, what has declined or improved since the last survey, etc.
  • Explore Group-Level Differences: Compare different demographics in your organization to help you understand different employee perceptions across gender, tenure, departments, teams, locations, etc. 

Doing this will help you better understand unique engagement drivers so you can pinpoint the results you need to focus on. 


You'll also be able to better target your efforts for building a culture of happiness at workOnce you're done with the analysis, you can then reflect on the information before creating a plan for taking action, the steps for which are simple: 

  • Share Findings With Employees
  • Provide access to Managers
  • Share information with Executives (Graphic design tools can help you here to make your presentation look good)
  • Target Areas for Improvement
  • Establish Specific Plans
  • Take Action
  • Evaluate Progress
  • Get ready to survey again.

It's a good idea to survey your employees once or twice a year to keep up-to-date with the goings-on in your company. This will allow you to address any issues before they grow into full-blown problems. 


No matter what stage your workplace culture is in DH offers virtual & on-site solutions to help build your culture or simply reboot it. 


About the Author

Ron Stefanski

Professor Ron Stefanski is the owner of, a website with 100,000+ readers monthly that helps people create and market their own online business. In addition to this, he runs his own website portfolio that accounts for millions of visitors every year. 

You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.



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