Employee Engagement Employee Recognition

Our top 9 employee recognition survey questions

Want to know if your team feels recognized? Ask them!

Whether you’re trying to gauge the impact of your existing recognition program, or evaluating whether you need to put one in place, asking your employees about recognition through surveys can be very instructive. 

While you can get a sense of how appreciated employees feel based on turnover rates and engagement scores, and employee recognition programs can offer a number of useful data points to help you measure their success, direct feedback can help fill you in the blanks and give you a clearer picture. 

By simply asking a few questions about how recognized they feel, how much they value the recognition they receive, and whether they feel properly equipped to show others appreciation, you’ll get a better idea of how well what you’re currently doing is working, and what needs to change.

Here are 9 of the employee recognition survey questions we’ve found most useful for our clients.

1. Do you feel recognized for your contribution to the company?

A simple one to start, but an important one. Simply asking your team whether or not they feel their contributions are valued by the company will give you an overall sense of just how much recognition is really a part of your culture

If you’re running a recognition program already, this question will help you gauge how effective it is. If you’re considering implementing one, it will tell you right off the bat how great the need is for it, and could be helpful in convincing your leadership to invest in this area.

You can ask this question as a simple yes or no, or ask them to rate how recognized they feel on a scale (very much, sometimes, not at all, etc). Either way, the results will give you a key metric to gauge where your company is at on its recognition journey.  

2. How often do You feel recognized by your manager?

Another huge factor in how appreciated your employees feel at your company is how often your leadership recognizes them.

If an employee isn’t being recognized for their efforts frequently enough by those above them, it can have a big impact on job satisfaction and motivation. Over time, they become disengaged and start looking for other opportunities. As the saying goes, ‘employees don’t quit companies , they quit bosses.’

The data you gather from this recognition survey question can be very actionable. If you find that employees don’t feel appreciated for their efforts often enough, you can make an effort to remind your managers of the need to recognize them on a more regular basis, and help coach them on when and how to show their appreciation. 

3. What kind of recognition means the most to you?

When it comes to employee recognition, there are a lot of different ways to show your appreciation. But what type of recognition means the most to your team?

Is it a simple "thank you" or "good job"? Is it a public shoutout at an all-company meeting? Or is it something more tangible, like a gift card or an extra day off?

You can put in all the effort to recognize people, but if you’re not doing it in a way that resonates with them, it won’t matter. Everyone responds to different kinds of appreciation, so take the time to learn what recognition means for your employees.

4. How would you rate the quality of the rewards you receive?

Following on from the last question, it’s worth remembering that quality of rewards can be just as important as what kind of recognition you’re offering. Even if your company is crushing recognition, it won’t mean much if the rewards you’re offering don’t have any meaning for your employees. 

A good example is milestone awards. How often do you see companies marking employees 5, 10, and even 20-year anniversaries with cheap plastic plaques or trophies? 

Most employees won’t see value in this reward, and it will likely be tossed away in a drawer somewhere.  

Even valuable gifts can miss the mark sometimes. For example, buying a manager golf clubs won’t be appreciated if they have no interest in the sport. 

Checking in with your employees to make sure that they actually want the rewards you’re giving them will help you identify if you need to rethink your rewards strategy, and stop you throwing money away on things your people don’t care about.

5. Do you prefer to be recognized publicly or privately?

Making recognition as public as possible can be a great way to ingrain it in your culture. You can highlight specific employees’ contributions at team meetings, in company newsletters and announcements, on internal communications channels like Slack and Teams, and even your company’s social media pages. 

It’s a great way to show some of your star employees a little extra love, and can also be valuable if you’re running a recognition program and trying to drive more participation.  

However, you need to keep in mind that it’s not for everyone. Many employees don’t like the limelight, and that’s perfectly okay! Your company needs to recognize its people in a way that fits with its culture and the individual personalities that create its identity.

This can be an especially valuable employee recognition survey question to ask when you’re preparing to introduce a new program, as it can help inform your communications strategy for launch

6. What behaviours do you feel should receive recognition?

This question could be worth including in an employee recognition survey if you want to learn more about the mindset of your people when it comes to recognition.

Do they think their colleagues should be rewarded for results, or effort? Do they feel it's enough to meet expectations, or should you need to go above and beyond? Do they value teamwork or individual achievements? Do your company’s core values inform their thinking?

This can tell you a lot about how aligned your team is. It could be especially instructive to look at the results of your managers and leadership, and compare them with the results of individual contributors. 

For more unbiased results, it’s probably a good idea to make this question open-ended, and ask people to fill in their own response, rather than select options. That way, you’re letting them give you their own thoughts rather than leading them towards the company’s official line on what recognition ‘should be’ about. 

7. Do you think people are recognized fairly at this company?

This is another survey question that can help you dive deeper into your team’s attitudes towards recognition at your company.

Do they think recognition and appreciation at your company is fair and equitable? Or do they feel there’s biases towards certain individuals, groups, or even departments. 

Some of these answers could lead you to discover serious issues of favouritism, or more general unconscious biases, such as a bias towards office workers in a hybrid workplace, or towards white collar workers rather than deskless team members.

It’s a tough question to ask that might surface some uncomfortable answers, but one that may be worth it if you have concerns about how equitable your program is.

8. Do you feel you have the right tools to recognize people?

This is arguably the most important employee recognition survey question you can ask if you’re considering investing in a new program.

Whether you’ve been running a program in-house, using a software provider you’re not happy with, or have nothing in place at all, getting your managers and employees to chime in on whether they feel equipped to show appreciation to their colleagues can help you make the case for change to your leadership team.

Even if you’re reasonably satisfied with what you currently have in place, this question could help to surface concerns or issues you weren’t aware of. 

It’s probably best to ask respondents to answer this question on a scale, but it could also be worth leaving room for some open-ended feedback. This will allow people to point out specific gripes they might have with your current system, whether they’re technical problems, administration issues, or anything else.

9. Any suggestions on how we can improve our rewards and recognition program?

Last but not least, if you already have a recognition program in place, this open-ended question gives you the chance to capture feedback you might not get on a rating scale. That's why it's a great one to end your survey with.

Building your employee recognition survey

It’s important to note that not all of these questions will be relevant to your organization, depending on where you are in your recognition journey right now. You also may want to customize some of the questions depending on your needs and motivations.

These questions can be used to build a full employee recognition survey specifically about that topic, or simply added to quarterly pulse surveys or engagement surveys, depending on what you feel is most appropriate. 

As with all surveys, you may also need to consider whether to make it anonymous, or to ask employees to give you an indication of who they are, or of their level or role in the organization. There can be advantages and disadvantages to both. 

The important thing is to ask the right questions to get the information you need, and to do so in a way that will give you the best chance of getting a good volume of honest responses.

Take the next steps with our employee recognition playbook

Canvassing your employee’s opinions on recognition is a great start on the road to making it a cornerstone of your culture, but what comes next?

In The Ultimate Employee Recognition Playbook, we detail our 6-step process for building a program that will have a real impact for your company. You’ll learn how to:

  • Make the case for employee recognition

  • Build your team of champions

  • Find the right solution for your needs

  • Set your goals

  • Launch your program

  • Measure the results

Click below to get your copy today!

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Skai Dalziel

Written by Skai Dalziel

Skai is the Co-Founder of Guusto. He leads the Customer Success Team, and loves helping HR leaders build workplace culture by sharing his experiences from working with thousands of companies.

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