How to Measure Employee Satisfaction – Gauge Your Workforce

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As a staffing agency, we cannot overstate the importance of keeping a measure of employee satisfaction.

No, we don’t plan on going into detail, uncovering the dirt on the graves of companies that have lost tons of employees due to toxic or downright-unhappy workplaces, for that is not the place of the messenger. Ultimately, there’s no intrinsic need to explain the negativity that surrounds an unhappy workplace. It’s the easiest aspect to understand in the unfolding enigma that is the human experience: happiness and satisfaction are good. Sadness and dissatisfaction are bad.

In most cases, understanding the origin of, and feeling the direct effects of an unsatisfied workforce are obvious. A study by Inc found that satisfaction boosts productivity by 31% (on average). Therefore, if you find that your workers are quickly dwindling in production, there my be a bit of unhappiness to blame. And, as a responsible, empathetic, and caring employer, it’s crucial to strike fast. Allowing dissatisfaction to sit for too long will quickly lead to losing star employees or, in the worst cases, poisoning your work culture (but we’ll get to that).

Henceforth, keeping a measure of employee satisfaction is important for maintaining productivity and labor success. But, what’s the best way to gauge your employees? How do you get honest and forthright opinions, allowing you to act upon them?

Let’s discuss:

What Really Is Employee Satisfaction?

Overall, defining employee satisfaction without using one of the correlating terms or synonyms would be fairly impossible. It’s a pretty straightforward term. Employee satisfaction is the satisfaction of your employees.

If a worker is proud of the company they represent, happy with their day-to-day activities, or excited about the opportunities that await them (all core points of job satisfaction), then they are more likely to show up and work hard.

At the end of the day, it’s all about fulfillment. Are your employees fulfilled in what they do? Are they willing and energetic to take on daily tasks?

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”

— Henry David Thoreau, American Philosopher

The Importance of Employee Satisfaction

Oftentimes, we find ourselves discussing the acts of labor as if workers are just pawns upon a board of production. We discuss productivity as if it’s the functionality or calculations of a well-oiled machine. Though, as employers and staffing agencies alike, it’s understandable to begin seeing the big picture as numbers and percentages, it’s important to remember that employees are complex humans with a wide array of emotions and motives.

Henceforth, if a worker is upset or unhappy with their job, it’s understandable for them to not produce as well as those that are satisfied. Though we can see the reduction in numbers and grow angry or administer reprimand, it’s important to remember that a lack of motive is to blame.

Employee disengagement cost the US economy an estimated $450-to-$550 billion last year alone.
It’s not an idea to shrug off as ‘no one really likes to work‘. Workers that enjoy their job produce more.

It’s that simple.

Along with employee satisfaction increasing productivity, it also decreases turnover. Each month, 3 to 4.5 million employees quit their job according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). If an employee enjoys their job, they are significantly less likely to quit (duh). If your employees are satisfied, it’s easier to keep them around.

Satisfaction Increases Culture

Building company culture is crucial to creating a workplace that satisfies every employee. Simply put, creating a culture allows everyone to feel fulfilled, understood, and motivated. It works as both a way to keep current employees and attract great ones in the future.

Not only does a strong and positive culture affect current employees, but it is a top priority for new ones, too. TeamStage has stated that company culture is important for 46% of job seekers. According to Monster, 83% of Gen Z employees say that a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the top priorities when choosing an employer.

We won’t bend your ear too long about creating culture, for we have plenty of articles on it, but we can’t underestimate how important a happy workplace is for both productivity and recruitment in the future.

What Can You Do When You Measure Employee Satisfaction?

We can babble on about the importance of employee satisfaction all day, but that’s not the point of the article. We’re discussing how to gauge and measure employee satisfaction.

Unfortunately, putting a blatant number or grading scale on employee emotion is… pretty much impossible (though we’ll discuss this in a bit). Furthermore, feeling out the overall happiness level of your employees can be difficult, especially if you are not around them through mobile work or divided workplaces. Simply put, you may not spend a lot of time around your employees, letting dissatisfaction slip by the wayside.

Therefore, having a way to measure or understand the current emotional state of
your workforce is critical to making further adjustments or changes.

How to Gauge Your Workforce Happiness?

Now we find ourselves getting to brass tacks.

How does a company measure its overall employee satisfaction? As stated, there isn’t a way to outright measure the emotion of a human. We can place imaginary numbers or metrics on an emotion, sure, but it doesn’t make qualifying the exact state significantly easier. Therefore, understanding and measuring employee satisfaction requires a multitude of different ways. From measuring to feeling with your gut, it takes multiple approaches and attempts to figure out the exact state.

Regardless, here are 7 methods for measuring employee satisfaction:


Overall, it’s hard to informally ask an employee to complain about their job. It seems like you are attempting to spring a trap. We get it. But, it’s worth a shot. It’s entirely acceptable to discuss workforce morale off the books.

Ultimately, asking an employee whether or not they are satisfied stems from the creation of a decent supervisor-supervised relationship. If you have already established a workplace that is open and judgment-free, you may be able to get actual information from your workers without the fear of backlash.

If you have yet to create this ideal work culture, you can always start. Begin with quick conversations on a daily basis. Walk by an employee and ask if they need anything or if everything is okay. It shows that you care and opens up lines of honest communication. After some time, you may be able to ask them if they are satisfied with their job or workplace and get an honest response.

If you have already established open communication (or believe that you have), ask them if they are satisfied. What areas can you improve? How would the employee describe the current employee morale?

Formal Meetings

If you don’t believe you are to the point of discussing informally or you want to do things on record, you can always schedule intermittent meetings with workers. These one-on-one conversations can be a good way to clear the air, learn about ongoing issues, and establish clear lines of communication with your workforce.

Firstly, start by meeting with your managers or supervisors personally. These meetings will allow you to see how they are feeling and get an idea of the workforce’s morale before speaking to other employees. Then you should speak to individual employees. You may be able to bring up issues that supervisors discussed or ask if there’s anything you should know about. At the end of the day, see what each employee has to say and how they feel about working at your company.


If you want to get the most from your questioning, you could always hand out anonymous surveys. These little documents can be seen as harmless, allowing employees to answer with the utmost honesty. Furthermore, you can put together a brief and useful set of analytics from the information you gather.

If you have a human resources department, ask them to put this together and follow through with the analysis. With these honest answers, you can begin to formulate a plan for how to elevate satisfaction going forward.

While your survey could include questions that require full answers, you could use a number grading system to speed up the process. You are likely to get more answers if your survey is efficient. No one likes to write (except me, apparently).

Employee Satisfaction Survey Example

  • Rate your job satisfaction on a scale of 1-10.
  • Do you feel proud to work for our company?
  • How willing are you to suggest working at our company to a friend?
  • Do you believe we have a strong and established company culture?
  • Do you feel you can approach management for any issue?
  • Do you feel like your responsibilities are clearly defined?
  • Do you consider any coworkers to be friends of yours?
  • Do you feel as if you have been given everything you need to do your job successfully?
  • Do you feel fulfilled at work?

Turnover and Absentee Rates

What tells you more about employee satisfaction than the rate at which employees are quitting? What tells you more about satisfaction than employees deciding not to show up?

If the unhappiness leads to a reduction in production, it also leads to significant turnover. Therefore, if you start to notice significant turnover, there’s significant unhappiness bubbling beneath the surface (or simmering right on top).

When employees leave your workplace, hold an exit interview with them. This 1-on-1 interview should allow the employee to be upfront and honest with their opinions. Though we discussed the creation of an honest workplace in our above tip, it’s not foolproof. Employees will always hold their tongues to an extent in order to maintain their employment. If the employee has already decided to quit, they are more likely to overcome that tongue-biting barrier. These are the movements where you’ll receive the most honesty.

In the exit interview, the former employee should let you know why they were dissatisfied. While this may not give you the leverage to maintain the quitting worker, it can help you improve the workforce. It should give you a clear measure of the current state of employee satisfaction. If the quitting worker gives you reasons that are team-related, you know dissatisfaction may be high.

Absentee rates work the same way. If your employees are not showing up for the job, it may shine more poorly on your employee satisfaction overall than the professionalism of the worker. If a worker hates their job, they are more likely to call in sick. It’s a fairly simple cause and effect to grasp. If multiple employees are missing work, it’s a good measure that employee satisfaction is low.

One employee missing work may be an unprofessional act. Multiple may be an issue on the employer’s behalf.

Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI) and Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Remember earlier when we said it’s impossible to create a number or index to measure employee satisfaction? Well, other employment agencies don’t believe so.

While we still believe it’s both strange and impractical to score emotions, there are a few metrics to help understand the overall mood of a workplace.

The Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI) is the simpler of the two metrics. In this scoring scenario, a workplace survey is created, much like the example we already created. The survey is then given to the entirety of the specific department or staff. Unlike the detailed survey we created, the ESI is based on 3 questions. These fundamentals include:

  1. How satisfied are employees with their current workplace?
  2. How well does an employee’s workplace meet their expectations?
  3. How close is their workplace to their ideal job? 

These questions are then answered on a scale of 1 to 10, allowing a company’s human resources department (or similar field) to create an average, mean, and measure of the current employee satisfaction. After, the company can take actions to improve satisfaction and check on results later with the administration of the same exact survey.

Basically, it’s the same concept as a survey with a more analytical approach. The administration of the exact survey allows for direct comparisons.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

If you are looking for a significantly more complicated metric in which to measure employee satisfaction, look no further than the eNPS.

The score works with the administration of a 2-question survey. The anonymous survey asks employees to rate, on a scale from 0 to 10, how likely it is they would recommend the organization as a place to work. The second is an open-ended question asking why they chose the rating they did.

Then, depending on the score given for the first question, those surveyed will be put into 3 categories.

  • Promoters (9-10): employees who are highly satisfied and likely to recommend your organization as a place to work.
  • Passives (7-8): employees who are satisfied enough to be content but may not be entirely engaged.
  • Detractors (0-6): those who are unlikely to recommend their organization, which may indicate some level of employee dissatisfaction.

The percentage of detractors is then subtracted from the percentage of promoters, and the final number represents the organization’s Employer Net Promoter Score. eNPS scores can range from +100 (all responses are promoters) to -100 (all responses are detractors).

This work gives a clear and honest look at the overall company satisfaction.

The Downfall

While both of these methods are great ways to measure and keep track of your employee satisfaction, they require time and effort (more so than the other options on this list). All in all, they would require the creation, administration, and analysis of the answers and numbers provided. Therefore, they often require the labor of a department specifically for the measurements (usually HR).

If you don’t have a designated HR department or don’t have enough HR employees to fulfill the task, it can be a sink of resources. If you are a smaller company, the other methods may be more approachable and affordable.

Employee Suggestion Box

Last but not least, the employee suggestion box creates an ongoing and efficient way to see how employees are feeling.

Is it as professional as the metrics above? Not at all. Is it easier and more long-term? Absolutely.

Think about it this way: while you may enact any of the aforementioned methods to measure employee satisfaction, you can always have an employee suggestion box on hand. It’s not the most effective way to keep track of or find issues, but it doesn’t hurt to have passively waiting for any immediate issues. It creates a quick and ongoing way for employees to anonymously share issues.

As stated, we aren’t claiming this is a method on par with the ones above, but it is useful. Have a locked suggestion box in the lunchroom or outside the HR office. Let employees anonymously write notes to put in there. It may result in nothing, but it doesn’t cost anything (except the box). On the other hand, it may give you some tips on what’s really going on in the office.

Above All, Keep Communication Consistent and True

Regardless of what method you use to gather and analyze employee happiness, there are two virtues that must be held.

Firstly, keep communication consistent and honest. Secondly, stick to what you say. Back up what you promise.

As we have noted throughout the entirety of this article, creating an honest workplace with open communication is the key to understanding and gathering employee issues. You want your workers to feel comfortable and heard, willing to go to correlating supervisors with issues. You want them to know that they will be handled with respect and professionalism, not being tossed to the wolves for expressing issues.

In a perfect world, anonymity shouldn’t be needed when expressing dissatisfaction.

Therefore, if you say that communication is going to be open and respected, make sure it’s open and respected. If you say your door will always be open, then the door better remain open. Don’t promise a workplace that’s expressive and then shut down any raised problems at the first chance. Be the understanding and respectful workplace you set out to be.

Remain True to Your Promises

If an employee raises an issue decreasing satisfaction and you say you’ll fix it, fix it. Nothing will decrease satisfaction and close off future honesty than lying about handling problems. All in all, you must be willing and honest to make a change.

We’ve reached a new age of the employee-employer relationship. As we stated, people want more time outside of work, they want more importance in their work, and they want to be treated as important pieces. If an employee brings you an idea for a change in the way your company does things, you may want to listen to it. Adhering to team ideas may not only increase employee satisfaction but help you build a successful and advanced business culture.

For example, if multiple employees bring up the concept of changing or offering hybrid working opportunities, you should think about it. Will it help get them engaged and create a strong working culture? Will it help improve the overall wavelength of the office? It may also save you some production costs and allow you to hire different (and better) workers.

Think about implementing it, at least.

This doesn’t mean adhering to every idea, though. Some may not work or may not be practical. But, be flexible. We don’t know where the working world will be in the next few years. Don’t be left behind due to bullheadedness.

How to Increase Employee Satisfaction?

So, you’ve found (through these methods) that your employees aren’t as satisfied as you’d like them to be. Consequently, actions must now be taken on your behalf to help improve the metrics going forward, creating a better and more productive work culture.

How do you do it? How do you raise employee satisfaction?

Luckily, you’re in the right place. We have plenty of guides to improving your workplace culture and raising satisfaction. Check out this article! Nifty, huh?