Create your own employee wellbeing survey

Everything you need to make a best-in-class wellbeing questionnaire

Workplace wellbeing is important. And that means measuring workplace wellbeing is important, too. If you’re not asking your team how they feel regularly, how will you know when they need support? Without data, it's easy to do nothing — or to prioritise the wrong ideas.

So, you need an employee wellbeing survey. And you need one that the whole team will be happy to answer, without the need for a Friday Nag(™). There are a few things to consider when writing your own wellbeing questionnaire. 

  • The right questions 
  • The right cadence 
  • The right format
  • The right action plan

If this sounds tricky, there are lots of ready-built tools out there to help. (More on those later.) But finding out what’s best for your business setup is all part of the fun. 

Measuring the mental health and wellbeing of your team

Getting started
Think about the aims of your survey. Would you like a questionnaire to be robust enough to identify the signs of poor mental health in particular team members? Or would you rather get a general lie of the land when it comes to how people are feeling? Do you want it to be quantitative so you can track a number over time, or are you more interested in picking out the qualitative themes? Your questions will be much easier to write once you have a clear ambition in mind. 


What makes a good employee wellbeing survey?


Keep it short
The easier your survey is to answer, the more likely people are to answer it. It may be best to trim your survey to the bare essentials until people get into the swing of responding regularly. You can always add more detail later if you feel like you aren’t learning enough. 

Keep it specific
Some companies ask holistic questions about their employees’ health and wellbeing at home, as well as at work. How far down the rabbit hole you go is up to you, but remember, you should only collect data on things you feel like you can act on as a business once the results are in. 

Keep it relevant
Make sure that all the questions you choose are relevant to the entire audience you’re sending the survey to. There’s no point asking about how inspiring your office environment is if 80% of your team work from home. 

If your survey’s measuring wellbeing, it’s probably measuring stress levels, too


Stress is a predictable precursor to poor mental health and burnout in any team. It’s a good idea to think about what might cause stress in your particular workplace and then focus your questions around those themes. 

Common causes of stress at work:

  • A lack of balance or boundaries between work and home
  • Too much work to do
  • Fear of speaking up or challenging others
  • A lack of autonomy over how and when the work gets done
  • A lack of clarity over roles or responsibilities
  • Unrealistic or unmotivating work goals
  • Isolation or a lack of collaboration and communication

Quantitative employee wellbeing survey questions

Here are some broad ideas for agree/disagree survey statements. We’ve based these questions on Spill’s 5 pillars for employee wellbeing. Pick the most relevant for your business (try to include one from each pillar) and ask people to score their answers from 1 to 5, 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree'. Mark any as a red flag if the average score of all employees on that question is below 3.

Space

  • "I'm able to sufficiently switch off outside of work hours"
  • "I'm able to sleep at night without being disturbed by worries about work"
  • "I rarely feel like I'm about to burn out"

Safety

  • “I feel safe to speak up at work”
  • "I feel pretty content on a day-to-day basis"
  • "I feel like people are on my side at work"
  • “I feel comfortable giving feedback to anyone in the company”

Autonomy

  • "I feel equipped to handle the stresses that work throws at me"
  • “I feel capable of making important decisions at work”
  • “I feel in control of the pace and direction of my work”

Goals

  • “I have meaningful targets to work towards”
  • “I feel able to prioritise work if there is too much for me to do”
  • "I feel like my life has meaning"
  • "I get more out of my work than just a salary"
  • “I rarely feel overwhelmed by my workload”

Support

  • "I would describe my overall mental health as 'good' at the moment"
  • "I rarely feel unable to work due to anxiety"
  • "I rarely feel unable to work due to low mood or depression"
  • "I feel able to talk to someone in my life if I'm not feeling great, mentally or emotionally"
  • "I feel able to talk to someone at work if I'm not feeling great, mentally or emotionally"
  • "I feel able to talk to my manager if I'm not feeling great, mentally or emotionally"

Get a questionnaire template with scorecard

Qualitative employee wellbeing survey questions

Here are some more open-ended questions if you'd prefer a qualitative questionnaire. You can group the responses by theme to get a heat-map of what the most pressing problem areas might be. It's best to keep qualitative questionnaires shorter, as each question typically takes more time to fill out.

  • List three emotions that you've felt this week. They can be positive or negative.
  • Thinking back over the past week, how have you been feeling out of 10?
  • (If not 10) What could have made you feel better at work this week?

     

How often should you send an employee survey?

The more frequently you can collect this data, the better your chances of acting quickly when issues arise. We recommend surveying employees monthly as a benchmark, but if your industry or company structure make it more susceptible to poor employee mental health, then it might be worth asking people more often.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a list of questions (that we've adapted) to identify if employees in your organisation are at higher risk of poor mental wellbeing:

  1. Do customers or service users think they have a right to the service, benefit, or product?
  2. Will customers be worse off if they don't receive it?
  3. Is the intervention to the customer unwelcome?
  4. Is the organisation subject to periodic external scrutiny or inspection of performance?
  5. Does the organisation have strictly imposed rules on sickness,absence and/or performance?
  6. Are pay rises linked to performance/attendance?
  7. Does the organisation have a ‘macho’ approach to stress or mental ill health?
  8. Has the organisation recently been subject to changes that have: increased the workload; reduced the size of the workforce but not the amount of work; resulted in areas being understaffed; changed the type or rate of work; changed the way in which the work is completed?

If you answer 'yes' to four or more of these questions, then your company is at higher risk and you should think about surveying your employees more often than monthly.

Naturally, you could also time your surveys around changes or initiatives you’re launching in the business. Before you announce that 4 day working week or big mental health support package, it’d be good to get a baseline for wellbeing so you can see the impact that your change has had.

How to choose the right format for your employee wellbeing survey

This depends on the culture of your business and the platforms your team are already familiar with. It’s worth thinking about whether your team will be willing to share how they're feeling publicly, too. That might help you open up conversations about emotions at work, but you could get more honest feedback if the responses were fully anonymous. Either way, it’s important that respondents know who will see their answers and how their feedback is going to be acted on. 

There are some pretty nifty tools out there to help you survey your team’s mood easily. We know, because we built one ourselves. Team Check-ins are available to any company that’s signed up to mental health support from Spill. Here are the principles we built our Check-ins feature on:

Make it a habit

Rather than sending out emails to nudge people to complete the survey each week, our clients can add a Check-in to any regular team meeting. Adding it to a calendar invite means participants are automatically redirected to answer two quick questions before they join their normal call. 

Make it easy
We only ask two questions in a Team Check-in. It’s easy to interact with, and it’s easy for team leaders to read the results. Respondents can choose exactly how much to share with others, or they can remain anonymous, if they’d prefer. 

Make it actionable

As well as individual feelings which can be shared immediately with the wider group, Check-ins help managers to track the whole team’s mood over time. And if someone reports an unusually low mood, or has been feeling low for a few weeks on the trot, a Spill therapist will reach out to that person to see whether they need any extra support.

How to make an action plan for mental health and wellbeing

Once you have your results, you’ll need to know what to do if someone reports feeling low. A good place to start is by writing your own mental health policy. That includes a detailed support procedure to help the company manage instances of poor mental health.*

If you ask for qualitative feedback about how you can better protect your team’s wellbeing at work, you’ll need a public channel or meeting to discuss the ideas that have been raised. And if you spot the whole team mood taking a dip, it might be time to implement an employee wellbeing initiative (or fifty-one).

Spill automatically surveys your employees' wellbeing with a nifty calendar integration tool. Learn more about how Spill works.

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