Employee engagement is a hot topic in organizations because of the value that engagement brings to everyone. At my workplace, we just completed our third engagement survey, which we do periodically.
We took the first one in December 2016 as the baseline, then started implementing a six-part employee engagement program.
Then we measured our progress in August 2017 and saw a 26% increase in engagement. Then we kept at the program. In April 2018, we took the survey again and saw another increase.
Now after 16 months of running the program, we’ve seen our engagement increase by 52%. A key to our plan is being able to measure engagement, so we use the Gallup Organization’s 12 engagement questions (Q12) as our measurement tool. Then we do follow-up steps using a checklist.
As described in First, Break All The Rules, Gallup has spent decades testing and tweaking these 12 questions, which can be divided into four categories.
Thanks to Gallup, here are 12 critical questions to measure employee engagement.
What Do I Get?
These questions focus on what the organization provides to the employee.
Q01. I know what is expected of me at work.
Gallup makes the point that having clear expectations is the most basic need of employees. If they don’t understand what is expected of them, employees will fill in the blanks themselves. Just because managers think employees should know what is expected of them doesn’t mean they do.
Q02. I have the materials and equipment to do my work right.
Along with having clear expectations, employees need the resources to do their job right. If they’re lacking the tools to perform their work well, they’ll have a hard time performing their work well. When managers shortcut resources, it sends a confusing message that the work and the employees aren’t that valuable.
What Do I Give?
These questions focus on what contributions the employees provide to the organization.
Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
Research shows that when employees use their strengths every day, everyone wins. There are gains in quality of life, job satisfaction, creative moments, positive interactions with coworkers, productivity, profitability, quality of work, job retention, and so forth. Employee strengths are the most valuable assets of workplaces, but many workplaces aren’t utilizing them to the full.
Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Employees want to be recognized for their work on a regular basis. When managers don’t acknowledge their contributions, engagement suffers. Some managers behave like the husband whose wife asked him, “Why don’t you ever tell me you love me?,” to which he replied, “I told you the day I married you, and if it changes, I’ll let you know.”
Q05. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
Knowing that someone at work cares is important to employees. It generates trust, openness, and connection. No worker is a just a worker; they’re whole-hearted individuals. It’s not enough for managers to say they care, they have to show it.
Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, now more than ever, today’s workers want growth and development. They’re actually expecting it. In order to compete for and keep talent, workplaces must create pro-growth environments in which managers encourage meaningful development.
Do I Belong?
These questions focus on the work environment and the employee’s connection to the mission of the company.
Q07. At work, my opinions seem to count.
Employees want to know their opinions matter. They want their feedback to be listened to, considered, and when it makes sense, implemented. Managers who don’t take the time to ask opinions or put new ideas into practice are closing the doors to collaboration, innovation, and engagement.
Q08. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
Today’s workers are more interested than ever in doing purposeful work. If they can’t emotionally connect to the mission of the organization, their motivation and dedication are going to suffer. If they can’t connect how their individual job helps the organization fulfill its glowing mission, their engagement is going to fade.
Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
Everyone’s been on a team—whether at work or school—in which not all team members contributed equally or excellently. Maybe just one or two members carried the team. While it may have helped to deliver results in the short term, this situation creates dissatisfaction and disdain in the long term. Employees want their colleagues to deliver quality work.

Q10. I have a best friend at work.
This is the question that receives the most scrutiny, but the data shows that when employees report having a best friend at work—not their only best friend, but a best friend that they’d describe as more than a good friend—then workplace engagement increases. It is good for the soul—and the job—when workers have a best friend at work.
How Can I Grow?
These questions focus on the employee’s development.
Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
As said before, employees expect opportunities to grow in meaningful ways. They feel supported in their growth when someone talks to them about their progress—where they’ve been, where they are now, where they’re going. Employees want to feel, “Yeah, I can grow here.”
Q12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
If in the last 12 months, employees have not had opportunities to learn and grow, then something needs to change quickly. Either employees are not perceiving the growth opportunities that do already exist or they don’t value them or there aren’t any. Either way, engagement will continue to suffer until this area is resolved.
Next Steps
It’s one thing to take the survey, it’s another to do something with it. Here’s a checklist of five next steps and best practices once you’ve taken the engagement survey.
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