It’s all the rage for businesses to survey their employees these days. The stated purpose of most surveys, whether it’s a question a day or several questions posed every month, is to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement. As CEB Global, a Gartner Company, points out, it’s easy to lose sight of that important fact when designing surveys. Being engaged at work must translate, on some level, to achieving corporate goals.

HR pros often want to know if employees feel respected by managers and co-workers. They want to hear about shortcoming in company perks. For example, are people arguing over reserved parking spaces? Should management change the kind of coffee being provided in the break room? It’s important to get at these details, but it’s even more important for senior managers to get at the connection between what employees do on a daily basis and how those activities fit into the larger picture.

Goals and Strategy

Employee surveys should ask team members about corporate strategy. The CEB Global pros suggest using the following types of questions to get at this information:

  • Do you understand the main strategy and goals of the company?
  • Can you make a connection between your everyday tasks and the goals of the company?

The answers to these questions reveal employee attitudes. If a team member doesn’t see how her work on gathering prospect information contributes to the broader goal of increasing sales in a new industry, you should meet with her and explain how the process and information flow works. Find an example of where her research has made a difference and encourage her to continue.

Capability During Change

Businesses often survey employees during times of change. This outreach is a good way to measure stress and detect problems that could lead to unexpected departures. According to CEB Global, “employees who have high commitment and low capability are actually 18% more likely to suffer from change-related stress, which leads to poor performance.” If you’re in the process of launching a new product or service, ask your employees questions related to the change. For example, “Do you know who to ask for help when something unexpected comes up?” or, “Do you have enough information to make decisions about the project you’re working on?” are examples of questions that can reveal a disconnect. Talk with the employees who are struggling and identify ways for them to work through the uncertainty.

When they feel more connected to the mission and goals of the company, employees may stick around a little longer, regardless of the perks in the break room.