Employee Wellness Surveys: Ultimate Guide [+10 Questions]

by Kim Lebherz

Looking for ways to improve your staff’s well-being but lack the data to inform your strategies?

Employee wellness surveys could be the solution!

Our guide:

  • explains why your organization needs employee wellness surveys,
  • shares 7 best practices for administering them,
  • introduces 10 employee wellness questions, and
  • discusses how they can help you improve your employees’ mental and physical health and make their work more fulfilling.

What is an employee wellness survey?

An employee wellness survey is a questionnaire that assesses the health and well-being of your employees.

It focuses on the 4 pillars of wellness: physical, mental, social, and financial well-being.

Their purpose? To inform company wellness initiatives.

Why is it important to measure employee wellness?

measure employee wellness

Businesses have long realized the impact of employee well-being on their bottom lines.

It’s estimated that poor health costs American companies $530 billion a year, while mental health problems result in $1 trillion loss in productivity globally.

Employees grappling with poor mental and physical health are more prone to burnout, leading to higher absenteeism and turnover.

This drives up healthcare, missed opportunity, and recruitmentcosts. Did you know the cost of replacing a highly skilled employee can be as high as 150% of their annual salary? Crazy!

Measuring employee wellness enables organizations to identify and proactively address causes of poor well-being, inform wellness initiatives, and track their performance.

It doesn’t stop there.

Wellness surveys signal to employees that you care about their well-being and success. This increases staff motivation, engagement, and loyalty. Which further improves their productivity and reduces churn.

Better yet, successful wellness programs can position your company attractively in the talent market. 87% of employees pay attention to them when choosing their new positions.

Employee well-being plays an important role in Corporate Social Responsibility programs. So commitment to staff wellness improves your image in the community.

7 Employee Wellness Survey Best Practices

Convinced that your organization needs well-being surveys?

If so, here are 7 best practices for creating and administering them.

Employee Wellness Survey Best Practices

1. Phrase the questions right

To get the necessary insights, your questions must be clear and free of ambiguity.

Not like this: “Do you feel that your workload is manageable and that you receive adequate support?”

Double-barrelled questions are ambiguous. Staff may find the workload manageable but not think much about the support. Break it down into 2.

It gets worse.

Both parts are leading questions, which can skew the results.

“How manageable is your current workload?” and “How supported do you feel in your new position?” are much better.

2. Use open-ended questions

Yes/No or Likert scale questions are quicker to answer. And their responses - easier to analyze.

The catch?

The insights they offer aren’t always deep enough.

To understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of staff well-being, ask open-ended questions.

For example, you could follow up the question “Are you satisfied with your job efficiency?” with “What changes or resources would help improve your productivity and efficiency?”.

Want to know the real kicker?

Such questions don’t need to be a chore to analyze.

Thanks to AI.

For example, Honestly’s AI assistant can summarize the qualitative responses and provide actionable insights in no time. So no reason to dread them.

Honestly AI assistant

Just make the follow-up questions optional.

We all get stuck on open-ended questions because we don’t know what to say or don’t feel like answering some of them.

Give your staff the freedom to skip such challenging questions, or the response rates will suffer.

3. Keep the survey brief

Let’s be realistic:

Your employees have plenty on their plates. With all the tasks to complete, deadlines to meet, and meetings to attend, completing the survey may not be their top priority.

So?

Keep surveys short and to the point.

If the survey takes more than 10-15 minutes to complete, they won’t bother.

With one closed-ended question + follow-up open-ended question per minute, that’s about 10-15 questions.

4. Guarantee anonymity and privacy

If your staff is concerned about anonymity, you may not get the honest or open responses needed to make an impact.

So, how do you ensure anonymity and privacy?

Using an external survey platform is one way. This limits access to raw data to individuals within the organization.

When choosing an external tool, make sure they’re GDPR compliant and allow you to set custom anonymity levels.

For example, in Honestly, you can set the anonymity level on a scale from 1 to 10. 5 means that 5 team members need to answer the question before you can view or filter the data. And once it’s set, you can’t change it at a later date.

After setting the anonymity levels, communicate them to participants so that they know who can view their responses. Honestly does this for you.

5. Close the feedback loop

To ensure ongoing employee engagement and future survey participation, always close the feedback loop.

Simply acknowledge their responses and let them know when they can expect the results. For transparency, it’s good practice to communicate the timeframe even before the survey.

Once you implement changes, announce them and follow up with pulse surveys to test their impact.

Employee Wellness Surveys feedback loop

6. Pilot the survey

No matter how much thought you put into your new wellness survey, you can’t predict or spot all issues, like ambiguous questions. Even when working as a team.

The solution?

Do a test run on a small employee group to see how it performs.

Here are a few things to remember when trialing the survey:

  • Choose a diverse yet representative test sample.
  • Test how long it takes to complete the survey.
  • Examine the survey logic (test branching, skip patterns).
  • Assess data quality to see if it provides the insights you need.
  • Collect feedback about the survey content, structure, and overall user experience.
  • Consider another pilot if you implement significant changes.

7. Use a robust survey platform

Google Forms will be enough for an occasional wellness survey. If you try hard.

However, a well-designed survey software, like Honestly, makes it easier to run surveys and analyze results for actionable insights.

For example, you can monitor responses and identify patterns from custom dashboards.

dashboard honestly

If you’re serious about developing a comprehensive employee listening strategy, it’s totally worth the investment.

10 Best Employee Wellness Questions

Writing clear survey questions isn’t easy.

To make things a bit easier for you, here’s a selection of 10 wellness survey questions, with their rationale.

They come from our employee wellbeing survey template, created in collaboration with the Free University of Berlin. To ensure they’re scientifically validated.

employee wellbeing survey

Questions about physical health and lifestyle

This category looks into factors that impact employees’ physical well-being and daily lifestyle.

1. Do you feel physically healthy?

Employee Wellness Surveys physica health

The question assesses the bodily health of your staff. It can also help you gauge the level of presenteeism.

Why you care: Physical health affects business performance. Unhealthy employees take more sick leave and their productivity dips when they work while ill. It’s estimated that presenteeism may cost the UK economy £15.1 billion a year.

2. Are you satisfied with how many opportunities you have for sports and recreation?

Employee Wellness Surveys lifestyle

Asking the question helps you understand how physically active your staff are outside work.

Why you care: UK government data shows that employees who engage in regular physical activities take 27% fewer days off, are less affected by burnout, and are more engaged at work.

Questions about financial wellness

3. Do you have enough money to meet your needs?

Employee Wellness Surveys financial wellness

This question examines how financially secure the employee feels.

Why you care: The 2023 PwC Financial Wellness Survey reveals that financial stress negatively impacts productivity and engagement. Financial worries lead to the loss of 17.5 million working hours a year in the UK.

Questions about work satisfaction and engagement

Questions in this category evaluate how employees feel about their job roles.

4. Are you satisfied with your job efficiency?

Employee Wellness Surveys work satisfaction

The question helps understand staff’s perceptions of productivity and identify potential barriers to efficient work.

Why you care: Poor working environment or inefficient processes have a detrimental effect on productivity and morale.

5. Do you find your work meaningful?

Employee Wellness Surveys work satisfaction and engagement

The question gauges employees’ feelings about the meaningfulness of their work.

Why you care: Research shows that finding work meaningful is strongly linked to high job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. Employees who see purpose in their work are more motivated.

Questions about emotional and psychological health

This category of questions focuses on mental and emotional well-being.

6. Do you feel depressed or anxious about your work?

Employee Wellness Surveys emotional

The question helps you understand how common work-related mental health issues are at your company.

Why you care: Stress leads to subpar performance and absenteeism. In 2016, Gallupestimated that work stress cost the German economy 9 billion Euros a year.

7. Are you confident about your own opinions and beliefs?

Employee Wellness Surveys psychological health

The question taps into the levels of empowermentand self-esteem that staff experience in the workplace.

Why you care: Confidence in one’s ideas translates into better performance and fosters innovation. Confident employees are proactive, engaged, and ready to take on challenges.

Questions about private life

These questions are designed to find out how well employees manage to balance their professional and personal lives.

8. Are you satisfied with your personal and family life?

Employee Wellness Surveys private life

Asking this helps you identify family-related factors that might have a detrimental effect on staff performance. It can also indicate how satisfied your staff are with their work-life balance.

Why you care: Family issues, like difficulties finding childcare, or loneliness, affect mental well-being, stress levels, and productivity.

Questions about workplace relationships

This category focuses on understanding the social dynamics in the workplace.

9. Can you ask someone for help with work-related problems?

Employee Wellness Surveys workplace

The question looks at how well the workplace supports staff and helps identify barriers that hinder communication within the team.

Why you care: A supportive work environment fosters collaboration and drives innovation. In the UK, lack of support is one of the main workplace stressors.

10. Are you comfortable with your relationships with colleagues?

Employee Wellness Surveys workplace relationships

The question sheds light on the quality of workplace relationships.

Why you care: Champion Health data shows that relationships with managers and colleagues are the main causes of work-related stress for up to a quarter of UK employees. Work relationships affect job satisfaction, employee engagement, and productivity.

Employee Wellness Survey FAQ

To wrap up, let’s answer a couple of common questions about customer wellness surveys.

How often should you run a well-being survey?

Once a year, which is a common practice, is an absolute minimum.

Lots can happen to your employee well-being during a year, though. For example, if the company is going through a period of organizational change.

If that’s the case, consider more frequent surveys, for example, every 3 or 6 months.

The frequency also depends on your ability to process results. And act on them. Subsequent surveys make no sense if you haven’t had a chance to implement any of the changes. This only leads to survey fatigue.

How to measure employee wellbeing?

Employee wellness surveys are only one way to measure employee well-being.

For a complete picture, use a range of techniques and data sources.

Like 1-on-1 meetings with line managers, health assessments, engagement with employee assistance programs, performance data, absenteeism, and turnover rates.

How to create a wellness survey?

Start by defining your objectives and identifying key wellness aspects to focus on.

Based on that, write your questions.

Alternatively, download our wellness survey template, or use Honestly to run your surveys.

Final words

Considering the potentially destructive impact of poor staff well-being on your company results, wellness programs are no longer an extra. They’re a strategic must.

Employee wellness surveys help you identify the areas where your employees need particular support and guide well-being initiatives.

Tools like Honestly streamline survey administration and help you extract actionable insights quickly and efficiently. So you can promptly respond to your employees’ needs.

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