Employee-Motivation Survey: Why You Need One and What to Ask

Katie Liston

Employee Feedback

Every good manager dreams of building an engaged team, but that’s easier said than done. An employee-motivation survey lets you look at the factors behind employee engagement so you can remove blockers. Only then can you take steps toward greater engagement.

Employee engagement is the secret sauce in highly successful workplaces. It’s the key to moving the meter up on sales, profitability, and productivity, according to prevalent workplace research. But engagement remains elusive for many companies.

If you’re struggling with engagement at your organization, we suggest you back up a step and look at the fundamental drivers behind engagement with an employee-motivation survey. Do you really need one more type of survey, you might ask? Yes. Employee motivation is that important.

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Why You Need an Employee-Motivation Survey

Employee-motivation surveys give managers information they can use to improve motivation on their teams. Employee motivation is the driving force behind why your workers do what they do and how well they do it. When you know what motivates your employees, or, rather, what is blocking their motivation, you are in a better position to stimulate them to work well.

Motivation is key to employee engagement

The motivation of your staff is important because emotional commitment to work is key to high employee engagement. And an engaged workforce brings profound positive effects for an organization, as we mentioned above.

To tap into emotional commitment, you’ve got to tap into the right kind of motivation. Employee motivations fall into two groups based on whether you have to do something or whether you want to do it.

Have you ever been so excited about a project that you think about it even when you’re not working? Do you have ideas that you can’t wait to try out? That’s the kind of motivation we want—the kind that makes us committed emotionally. When we’re emotionally committed to our work, we’re highly engaged.

Employee-motivation surveys are different from satisfaction and engagement surveys

We often use the terms satisfaction, engagement, and motivation interchangeably. While these concepts do overlap, there are important differences, especially when it comes to what you’re measuring with a survey in your feedback strategies.

An employee satisfaction survey measures how happy your people are at work. It asks questions about pay, the meaningfulness of work, and professional development opportunities, for example, to see if they’re satisfied with their working conditions.

But a satisfied worker is not necessarily an engaged one. An employee engagement survey helps you understand how motivated your people feel toward their work. And for more for more frequent feedback, you can use employee pulse surveys to measure employee engagement.

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While an employee engagement survey will tell you how engaged or disengaged people are, it doesn’t tell you why. That’s where an employee-motivation survey can help. An employee-motivation survey will help you pinpoint the blockers to better employee engagement so you can remove them.

Find the things that block employee motivation before you improve engagement

Certain factors in the workplace have been shown to demotivate people. These can block even the best intentions by managers to motivate their people. Shawn M. Galloway, a consultant on employee engagement and culture, proposes that before you can introduce programs to improve employee motivation, you must remove demotivators from your workplace.

What things will hold back employee motivation? Galloway suggests the most common are constant change, withholding information, hypocrisy, dishonesty, unfairness, unproductive activities, internal competition, lack of follow-up, over-control, and ignoring employee input.

On the other hand, a study of 40 years of employee-motivation surveys in the International Journal of Manpower found that one of the biggest factors that motivated employees was feeling appreciated.

Looking at the common blockers of motivation, above, we can see that many of them will make people feel unappreciated. Withholding information? Unfairness? Ignoring input? That sure wouldn’t make for a very motivating environment.

It may be hard to imagine, but it’s likely that some of those motivation blockers exist at your company.

Employee Happiness Survey

You may already be collecting regular employee feedback, using surveys like the one above, but an employee-motivation survey will specifically help you root out the motivation blockers you need to address in your organization.

Book a free demo to see how collecting employee feedback with ContactMonkey can boost productivity.

Questions to Ask on Your Employee-Motivation Survey

Your staff survey questions should help you find the demotivators at your company, those underlying issues that rob people of their internal motivation. Here’s a model you can follow and questions you can ask based on one of the most successful companies in the world: Google.

It’s no secret that Google has done a few things right when it comes to its people practices. In fact, the company has regularly received “best place to work” honors. A key part of the technology giant’s strategy has been surveying its employees several times throughout the year and basing decisions on its people data.

We noticed that one famous set of questions Google used is particularly helpful in pointing out common demotivators in the workplace. We’ve taken the most applicable questions that Google asked and added one of our own based on the fundamental elements of employee engagement strategies. The result is a model for an employee-motivation survey that will help you find the blockers of employee engagement at your company.

Image of chart listing employee motivation survey questions and the reasoning behind each one.

How you implement your questionnaire is also important. Google uses a Likert scale of 1-5 and calculates the individual score for each manager as well as the average score company-wide. The surveys are kept candid and facilitate anonymous feedback from employees. Managers may go over the results with their team, which can springboard into open dialogue that leads to positive change.

Why do the questions all relate to the person’s manager? We believe this is an important element that Google got right. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across an organization. That means that an employee’s motivation and engagement will vary according to the environment their managers create. You might have one business unit that’s highly committed to its work, and others that are not, all at the same company.

ContactMonkey’s employee feedback tools make it easy to gather input on managers. But how often you choose to gather it will depend on the environment at your company.

Having trouble thinking of questions for your employee motivation survey? Try using ContactMonkey’s OpenAI ChatGPT integration to generate survey questions for your internal communications. Simply write a prompt describing what you’d like to accomplish, generate and select questions that fit your needs, and edit them according to your audience.

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How Often Should You Measure Employee Motivation?

Some companies reserve employee motivation questions for their annual survey, while others use pulse survey questions to take readings as frequently as weekly.

Motivation is a dynamic internal state that fluctuates with changes around a person, starting with their hiring and onboarding experience. But to get useful employee input, enough time must pass in order for the employee to not simply remark on their mood that day but rather comment on their team’s work through a variety of situations.

To some degree, how often you deploy your employee-motivation survey will depend on what’s going on at your company. Seating-manufacturer Exemplis, for example, surveys its employees weekly, but other organizations use these tools less frequently.

If the work environment is going through a lot of changes, like shifting everyone to a remote environment, then quarterly employee-motivation surveys may be appropriate. Otherwise, touching base with folks semiannually about blockers to their motivation might make sense. A lot can happen in six months, but not so much that their environment would have completely changed, unless they’ve changed managers. On the other hand, waiting a year in between surveys will likely be too long.

ContactMonkey is for more than just sending internal emails. It offers a complete internal communications solution, including surveys, event management, and analytics. Schedule a personalized demo of ContactMonkey today!