How to Conduct Effective Employee Wellness Surveys [+ question examples]

Planning remote employee wellness survey

As a remote HR leader, you know that the personal health and overall well-being of employees is extremely important. Sure, we know that companies who promote wellness have lower employee turnover rates, but genuinely caring about the wellness of employees is also the right thing to do as an employer — especially when finding work-life balance is more difficult in a remote environment.

In this blog, we’re looking at how to create meaningful, effective surveys that help you understand in detail how your remote workforce is doing. A good survey will help you better understand engagement and productivity levels, potential retention issues, company culture challenges, and what’s holding your employees back from bringing their A-game.

Why wellbeing surveys are important

It’s easy for issues like burnout, workplace frustration, and isolation to fly under the radar in remote-first organizations. Written communication and heavily time-boxed interactions over video calls help create the perfect storm for wellness and work-life balance issues to thrive.

Surveys give HR leaders a direct line to remote teams, enabling them to identify trends around overall work sentiments, levels of well-being, how people are managing their workload, and if there are any warning signs around things like potential mental health issues.

By asking targeted questions about the everyday challenges faced by employees, HR can use the responses to help shape wellness programs and create annual well-being plans which are aligned with addressing immediate employee needs and concerns.

A well-structured survey can shine a light on blind spots for HR to:

  • Gauge engagement levels
  • Identify productivity barriers
  • Spot signs of work dissatisfaction before they lead to resignation
  • Ensure that the remote work culture is healthy and supportive
  • Show employees that the company genuinely cares about their well-being
  • Build trust and loyalty

Surveys aren’t just a “nice to have” for remote organizations – they’re a lifeline for tracking whether global employees are productive, engaged, and happy.

What makes an effective employee wellness survey question?

Your wellness surveys should have a combination of open-ended, multiple choice, and 1-10 scale questions. In order to be impactful, we recommend your surveys be sent out at an established regular cadence, can be answered anonymously, and that action is taken based on the responses.

Examples of ineffective questions

  • “Yes” or “no” questions that prevent uncovering further detail. These types of questions should be used sparingly, if at all. 
  • Leading questions which encourage the answers you want to hear. For example “How much do you love using Slack during your work day?
  • Broad or ambiguous questions
  • Combining several questions into one. This can make it hard for employees to give you a focused response
  • Don’t ask questions that imply your organization can deliver something you won’t be able to follow through on

Examples of effective questions

  • Open ended questions that encourage detailed feedback
  • Free of any biases that could skew results
  • Are clear, concise, and accessible
  • Use simple language that is an 8th grade level
  • Focus on a specific objective
  • Are centered on your employees’ real perspectives and experiences
  • Only ask questions where the responses can be actioned by your company to improve employee well-being

How to get higher survey response and completion rates

Running an effective survey is more than just a tool for gathering data. It helps HR start a conversation with teams about their real needs, with a promise to listen, respond, and find solutions. But the biggest challenge starts with getting employees to fill out the survey!

Here are some tips that can help you get higher response and completion rates.

Frequency and timing

Avoid sending surveys out when employees might be especially busy or have tight deadlines to meet. Timing can be a big factor in whether employees participate in a survey or not, and you don’t want surveys to disrupt productivity either.

Choosing the right frequency for your workplace surveys is also important. The frequency of surveys depends on your specific company goals, and will also depend on any previous survey success, plus advice from leadership.

Annual surveys are suitable for many organizations, but if HR leaders need more frequent feedback, quarterly surveys or short eNPS and pulse surveys can be effective tools.

Nominate wellness champions

To encourage higher completion rates, you could also select someone from each department to act as culture or wellness champions, and involve ERGs to help conceptualize and promote your surveys.

Having champions clearly explain the goal of the survey, and how the results will benefit employees, can help to encourage participation. For one organization, this strategy helped boost survey response rates to 82%, and keep them consistently above 70%.

Ensure confidentiality

Employees will be more likely to participate and give honest feedback if they are given assurance that their responses will be anonymous and confidential.

Keep it short and accessible

Design your surveys to be concise and relevant to your employees’ experience. Nobody wants to spend hours filling out a survey with dozens of questions, so lengthy surveys can dramatically reduce completion rates.

Make sure your surveys are inclusive and accessible, and that employees can easily open and complete them on their choice of device, at a time that’s convenient for them.

Offer incentives

Increasing survey participation rates can be as simple as offering an incentive for employees who complete it.

This doesn’t have to be a huge incentive. Even a company-wide raffle or small gift voucher can encourage participation. Just make sure that you promote the fact that there’s a reward on offer when you launch your survey!

Take action

Communicate to your teams that your company will take action as a result of their feedback. This shows employees that your company is listening, and that their feedback matters.

How to map employee survey responses to metrics

Wellness survey responses can be translated into different metrics that can help HR leaders and management understand the overall well-being of their remote workforce.

These metrics include:

  • Engagement and satisfaction levels, which indicate how happy employees are with their work, and the company overall.
  • The levels of work-related stress among employees, which can pinpoint how and where stress reduction strategies might need to be implemented.
  • Tracking how employees feel about their ability to balance work with their personal life. This can help identify whether more flexible work arrangements are needed.
  • Physical health levels of remote employees, including exercise habits, nutrition, concerns, and the need for health or fitness related programs.
  • Mental and emotional well-being of employees, including identifying the need for extra support around issues like depression, loneliness, or anxiety.
  • What’s working and not working with existing wellness programs and activities.
  • Whether employees would be interested in trying out different wellness apps, activities, and initiatives.

Whichever metrics you choose to track, your survey questions and responses can help you get a more accurate snapshot of workplace reality. By taking action on what you’ve learned, your organization can take steps to improve on any necessary areas of physical and mental wellness for your remote teams.

Employee survey question bank

These are some of the broader questions that are commonly asked in employee well-being surveys:

  • Questions about mental health for remote employees
  • Workload survey questions
  • Work-life balance survey questions
  • Workplace well-being survey questions
  • Health and well-being survey questions
  • Survey questions about management
  • Survey questions about social wellness
  • Survey questions for employees about their work environment

Let’s take a look at some examples of questions you can include in each of the above brackets.

Questions about mental health for remote employees

  • What methods do you currently use to cope with stress related to work?
  • Have you ever felt the need to take time off work for your mental health but were unable to do so? If so, what stopped you from being able to take the time off?
  • How does your mental health affect your performance at work and satisfaction in your role?
  • How much would you agree with this statement: As a remote worker, I require different guidance and tools around mental and physical well-being compared to staff who work in the office.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate our commitment to the mental and physical wellbeing of our remote workforce?

Workload survey questions

  • In general, how do you feel about your current workload?
  • Do you feel adequately supported to handle your current workload?
  • Do you believe your workload is fair, based on your current salary?
  • Do you often feel it is necessary to work longer hours to finish projects on time? If so, how has this impacted your personal life?

Work-life balance survey questions

  • How would you describe your current work-life balance?
  • Are there ways in which [your organization name] negatively affects your work-life balance?
  • Have you ever felt pressure from [your organization name] to change your work-life balance to fit in?
  • Do you feel any of your personal relationships are suffering because of your work? If yes, please tell us more.

Workplace well-being survey questions

  • Overall, how excited are you to begin a typical workday?
    • ☐ Excited – looking forward to the day!
    • ☐ Feeling okay – ready to get down to business
    • ☐ Not looking forward to it – pressed snooze a couple of times
    • ☐ Dreadful – would rather not work
  • In the last 12 months, have you experienced physical aches or pains, emotional distress, or concerns about your mental health?
    • ☐ All of the time
    • ☐ Most of the time
    • ☐ More than half of the time
    • ☐ Less than half of the time
    • ☐ Some of the time
    • ☐ At no time
    • ☐ Don’t know
  • How much would you agree with this statement; I am able to take frequent breaks to focus on my physical and mental wellbeing without feeling guilty?
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: I feel guilty taking short breaks from my work during the workday unless it is to tend to basic necessities such as eating food or using the bathroom.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: My employer cares about my well-being as it relates to nutrition by respecting boundaries around meal breaks.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • This is a list of all of the support and resources we provide at [your organization name] to assist you with your well-being. To help us understand if we are communicating them effectively, please select those that you knew were available to you prior to reading this question:
    • ☐ Example 1
    • ☐ Example 2
    • ☐ Example 3

Health and well-being survey questions

  • What do you do to tend to your own well-being during the work day and after work?
  • What additional support could you use for your well-being?
  • How often do you take a short break from your work during the work day to tend to your well-being and refocus? E.g. taking a short walk, stretching, watering your plants, etc.
  • How much would you agree with this statement: You have access to everything you need to effectively tend to your well-being as a remote worker.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • When taking a break from normal work activities during the day, which one of these breaks would help relax or energize you the most before it is time to refocus?
    • ☐ Walking
    • ☐ High intensity movements
    • ☐ Journalling
    • ☐ Stretching
    • ☐ Breathing exercises
    • ☐ Meditation and Mindfulness
    • ☐ Other______

Survey questions about management

  • How much would you agree with this statement: I feel comfortable talking to my manager about my mental health, such as stress, overwhelm, anxiety, depression and burnout.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: I feel comfortable speaking to my manager about a physical health problem that affects my work, my overall well-being, and if I need accommodations made to help me at work.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How would you describe the effectiveness of your managers when they’re communicating with you and your remote co-workers?

Survey questions about social wellness

  • How much would you agree with this statement: My manager understands how to support me and my team as remote workers and makes efforts to connect us as a team.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: I feel connected to my colleagues and it is easy to communicate with them remotely.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • Since working from home, how has your sense of loneliness changed?
    • ☐ Much lonelier
    • ☐ Lonelier
    • ☐ No change
    • ☐ Less lonelier
    • ☐ Much less lonelier
  • How would you describe your relationship with other work colleagues and team members?

Survey questions for remote employees about their work environment

  • If any, what additional tools, programs, and equipment do you need to do your job comfortably as a remote worker?
  • How much would you agree with this statement: My employer takes their responsibilities seriously when it comes to ensuring my work environment is best suited for my needs, even though I work from home.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: My employer encourages regular breaks and scheduled time for physical activity, whether it’s taking a walk or doing a quick workout.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree
  • How much would you agree with this statement: I am encouraged by my employer to create a comfortable, dedicated workspace in my home that allows me to feel my most productive.
    • ☐ Strongly Agree
    • ☐ Agree
    • ☐ Neutral
    • ☐ Disagree
    • ☐ Strongly Disagree

In summary

Sending strategic employee wellness surveys out at regular intervals is one of the key steps to creating and maintaining a supportive, healthy remote work culture. Your wellness surveys can be standalone, or tied in with a bigger workplace survey.

By actively encouraging employees to respond, taking action based on the survey responses, and measuring results, HR leaders can help champion well-being programs and activities that employees will actually use and benefit from.

Did you know that taking quick breaks during the day can boost your employees’ well-being?

If you’re looking for an engaging, user-friendly wellness app to support your remote teams in their wellness journey, Bright Breaks has hundreds of live and on-demand 7-minute breaks that encourage solo and group movement, mindfulness, and mental health. Employees can take breaks right from their desk whenever they need to, and wherever they are in the world.

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What you should do now

  1. Promote best practices for remote worker health with free copy/paste, pre-written scripts you can post every week in your internal communications channels.

  2. Learn from top HR & People Leaders about the latest strategies to keep your remote workforce happy, healthy, and connected on The Virtual Vibe Podcast.

  3. Contact our sales team to discover the benefits of our built-for-the-workplace wellness solution, compared to B2C offerings like Calm or Headspace.
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