30 Questions to Ask Your Employees Instead of the mundane “How’s Work?”

Unfolding the power of asking people centric questions that pave the way for real employee engagement

‘Happiness at Work’ is not an alien concept.

Both the employer(s) and the employee(s) go through umpteen rounds of surveys and studies to gauge how happy a worker is with his/her boss, job and organization as a whole.

Honestly, many would agree that it is a tiresome and unfruitful act to take Employee Engagement Surveys, write Performance Review Forms or answer Feedback-seeking Tools.

It’s all about rehearsed replies and run-of-the-mill processes. Results hardly provide solace at the ground level and are more about celebrating scores and awards associated with these activities.

Connecting directly with the employees in a one on one conversation always yields better response and results as compared to analyzing most likely to least likely options on a 5-point scale or worse getting lost in the ‘neutral’ zone.

As an added advantage, empathetic demeanor of the interviewer improves the chances of getting authentic answers and gives the employee a genuine hope that the things would turn for the good.

Of course the questions shouldn’t be hurled one after the other in a single session, which can make it look like a prosthetic effort.

The queries can be situational, posed after a meeting or presentation, during tea break or travel time or whatever circumstance you feel is ideal to allow a discussion that has relevant employee meaning.

A sincere effort in this direction can turn your office into a motivating place that functions on the pillars of understanding and prompt support.

After all, it is the whole person you are dealing with and not just an employee.

“Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” Says Meghan Biro, CEO at Talent Culture (open online community exploring the world of work)

The following list tries to compile a quick reference that can assist in making most of the engaging dialogue with your employees.

Here are the 30 Questions to Ask Your Employees

The Organizational Angle

  • What do you like about the organization?
  • Would you like to know more about any company process/person that can help you operate better? (This question helps to rule out approval/access issues faced by employee)
  • Would you like to change anything in the way things get done here?
  • What is the best thing that happened to you after joining this company? (Helps to understand what areas of employee life are impacted by company)
  • Is there anything about your job or company that is unclear or confusing?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?

The Job Part

  • What part of your job generates interest and excitement?
  • Does the job challenge you enough to learn new concepts and skills?
  • What would you like to learn as a part of your self-improvement agenda? (These can be Technical/Soft Skills related to job domain or otherwise; avoid this question if you are not going to translate the need assessment into action/training)
  • Do you see any roadblock in carrying out your job duties?
  • Is there any recent success story that you would like to share?
  • Do you have enough, too little or too much time to finish your work? (Aids to understand work allocation and scheduling issues)
  • What part of your job you wish you didn’t have to do? (More often than not, these become the reasons for employee to leave the job, so it is important to identify them)

The People Perspective

  • Do you get recognized by your manager for all the extra work you do? 
  • Are you comfortable sharing issues/feedback with your boss?
  • Do you like the way constructive criticism or feedback is given to you?
  • If you were the boss, what’s one thing that you would do differently?
  • Do you enjoy working with your current team?
  • Is everyone pulling his or her weight on the team? (Caution – Avoid this question if the existing team morale is highly negative or unduly competitive)
  • Which colleagues have been of help since the time you joined?
  • Have you faced any uncomfortable situations/conflicts with your boss, colleagues or customers?
  • Who do you turn for help when you get stuck with something?
  • Do you believe your ideas are valued? Share examples

The Personal Space

  • What motivates you to come to work each day? (It’s not only about paychecks. Knowing the real motivators can help to accentuate them further)
  • What do you see as your greatest accomplishment for the current year?
  • Do you have clarity as to how you can progress as a professional within this company? (It helps to know whether the employee knows how he fits into bigger scheme of things)
  • What’s keeping you up at night? (Helps to gather Cues to Job/Family Stress and work out possible ways to alleviate the worry)
  • What do you do when you feel low or unmotivated?
  • Is there any new role or responsibility that you would like to explore?
  • How is life outside of work? (Affirms the fact that employer is interested in employee as a “whole entity”)

– – –

It is no surprise that employee engagement continues to be a glaring concern for organizations worldwide as emphasized by the Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends study, 2015.

Employee feedback surveys are not supposed to fix morale issues in a jiffy. It is a gradual and ongoing process, which has to be as real as it can get.

In such scenario, knowing what questions to ask your employees can give you an unprecedented edge and generate untapped powers.

Pulse surveys conducted once a week or whenever the situation permits, give managers upper hand to remain on top of their game.

Summing up in words of Doug Conant (Founder, ConantLeadership) “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”.

And to win you need to ask questions, right questions!


Written By

Mitalee Chhatre

Mitalee, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.