Asking the Right Questions: Employee Benefits Surveys + Template

There’s a phrase I like that says, “if you don’t ask, you’ll never know,” which I think applies to most things in life, and your employees’ job satisfaction is no different. But we usually only hear answers to the questions we’re asking, and sometimes miss out on pertinent information. It may be time to ask yourself… Are you asking the right questions?

When running a small business, providing benefits is beneficial to both the employer and the employee but it can often be costly, and you can sometimes be left feeling like you’re not getting a whole lot of ROI. This could be because your employees aren’t getting the benefits they want or need.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2022 Employee Benefits Survey sheds some light. Not surprisingly, traditional benefits like extended health coverage, retirement savings, and time off crown the list. But the data also reveals growing trends in areas like wellness and education perks: employees’ needs are changing, and benefit offerings need to keep pace.

Engagement with them is the best way to identify what they actually want; and while the most common benefits are likely on their radar, they may have other specific ideas that can set your organization apart from your competitors and create a better overall work environment. 

An Employee Benefits Survey is an invaluable way to ensure the perks and benefits that you’ve so thoughtfully chosen to offer your employees are doing what they’re supposed to: keep them healthy, productive, happy, and able to bring their best selves to work. But unless your employee benefits survey is designed to capture the most relevant insight possible, you might end up with very few clues about how satisfied your employees really are with their benefits.

But where to start? First, have a clear goal for what you wish to learn from your benefits survey – not only will pointed questions draw better answers, but it will also help employees think more clearly about their responses. Then think about what format best suits your questions.

If you want to gain subjective employee feedback, then providing a space on your survey for written answers is a good idea. If you want to gain quantitative statistics to understand what the majority is looking for, then multiple choice or ‘scale of’ questions are an effective route to take. I find a mix of both to be effective.

Designing the survey can be a daunting task, but no fear! Below, you’ll find various suggested questions to get you started. Just as you intend to with your benefits, feel free to tailor your questions to best suit your organization. Remember, the important thing here is everyone is being properly and positively engaged.

General questions about your employee benefits can help you determine whether your employees are satisfied with what you provide them. These questions can also inform whether the need to update benefits according to employee needs. Include questions like:

  • Does a company’s benefits program influence your decision to work there? (Short answer)
  • On a scale of 0-5, do you feel our employee benefits plan fulfills your needs?
  • Which benefits do you feel are the most important? (Short answer)
  • Are you satisfied with the level of health insurance provided? (Yes/No)
  • Do you feel confident that your healthcare insurance will meet your future needs? (Yes/No)
  • Are you aware of other types of health and wellness benefits that you would like to see included in your plan? (Short answer)
  • The company’s contribution to my retirement funds is generous. (Yes/No)
  • “I am happy with my company’s employee retirement plan program.” strongly disagree / disagree / neither agree nor disagree / agree / strongly agree
  • “I clearly understand how my retirement plan works and how I can access its benefits.” (Yes/No)
  • If you could change one thing about your retirement plan program, what would it be? (Short answer)
  • Do you feel that you have sufficient opportunities to grow professionally/personally while working at this company? (Yes/No)
  • “My employer offers a generous professional development allowance.” (Yes/No)
  • “I feel that I can use my development allowance to learn a skill I wouldn’t have otherwise studied.” (Yes/No)
  • “I understand how to request a reimbursement for professional development training/tuition.” (Yes/No)
  • On a scale of 0-5, how happy are you with our parental leave program?
  • “My manager supports me in ensuring that I balance my time between work and childcare or elder care responsibilities.” (Yes/No)
  • “I clearly understand my rights when it comes to parental leave.” (Yes/No)
  • “Being able to access childcare benefits through work is important for me.” (Yes/No)
  • Has childcare been a source of stress in the past month? (Yes/Somewhat/No)
  • “My company supports the lifestyle that I want to lead as a working parent.” (Yes/No)
  • “The childcare support from my employer helps make it easier to do my job.” (Yes/No)

Extended benefits like transit allowances, flexible work hours, and recreational budgets are a benefit many employers have opted into over the past decade, especially with the global shift to work from home. Providing these benefits can support work-life balance and contribute to overall life satisfaction. In this section, you might invite employees to indicate the importance of possible added benefits on a scale of 1 to 5. Examples may include:

  • Home Office Budget
  • Employee Discounts and Rewards
  • Performance and Anniversary Recognition and Gifts
  • Office Perks such as Rest Areas, Free Coffee
  • Wellness Program
  • Mindfulness and Mental Health Programs
  • Flexible Hours
  • Hybrid Work
  • Gym and Lifestyle Memberships
  • Stock or Equity
  • Childcare
  • Continuing Education
  • Food and Drink