Most employers are quick to criticize employees when things go wrong. Hard work is expected, and extra effort or important milestones can go unnoticed. You may think the employee experience you offer is different, but how can you be sure?

Employee recognition surveys are an essential way to truly find out whether the company values you preach are being practiced. However, there are hundreds of example questions to ask and many say the same thing in different ways.

These 21 employee recognition survey questions are the most important to cover, including a few bonus questions for your management team.

How Do These Differ From Employee Engagement Survey Questions?

Employee engagement surveys measure to what extent your employees align with the company culture and mission. This is shown through their commitment, passion, and willingness to do their very best while at work.

Employee recognition surveys are somewhat simpler and more focused. These let you know how much employees feel recognized for their accomplishments and achievements. 

Despite their differences, there is some overlap. Engaged employees are regularly recognized and know how they fit into and contribute to the company’s mission. Plus, many happy employees could mean you’re a Most Loved Workplace

Must-Have Employee Recognition Survey Questions 

According to Harvard Business Review:

“According to the data we collect on leaders across industries, every measure of morale, productivity, performance, customer satisfaction, and employee retention soars when managers regularly provide recognition.”

The questions you ask have to be thoughtful to give you a balanced picture of your employee appreciation levels. So, make sure you include a few things in this questionnaire:

  • Include a mix of yes/no and open-ended questions
  • Make sure the right questions help you get a clear understanding of your current work environment
  • Adapt those about employee recognition programs if you don’t have one in place
  • Ensure a high response rate to get the best picture
  • Use them to create a survey template to stay consistent

How often do you receive recognition at work?

This first question will give you an immediate overview of how valued your employees feel. If the level is generally low, you need to look at your process for offering recognition and where it’s falling short. If this is high, you’re doing a great job.

How often do you receive recognition at work?


Are you satisfied with the amount of recognition you receive? Why?

Some team members will need pats on the back more often than others—this is simply down to personality types. However, if most people feel they should be receiving more recognition, then something needs to change. 

How often do you provide recognition to those you work with or in your personal life?

You should provide positive feedback as often as you expect to receive it. Does your organization have a buddy program for onboarding new employees? If not, this can help new hires build their social circles and integrate faster. Plus, it gives current employees more opportunities to recognize and celebrate others’ little wins as they do.

Is the type of employee appreciation you receive meaningful? How could it be improved?

Simply saying “Good work” to an employee may feel like you’re being positive, but it isn’t meaningful—you need to get specific. What have they done that’s warranted praise? How has it benefited the business? Providing this specific type of recognition feels personal and sincere while giving them a more obvious target to aim for next time.

Are your team members recognized more often than you? Why?

Recognizing some employees and not others for the same amount of work is the fastest train toward disengagement. Is this due to underlying unconscious bias or something else? It can be helpful to refer to DEIB practices when collating survey answers for this question.

Types of unconscious bias


Which types of behaviors and achievements are recognized most often?

Does your organization have a benchmark for recognition and rewards? As well as feeling more meaningful, if your employees know what’s expected and appreciated, they’ll have solid goals to work toward.

Which behaviors and achievements do you feel aren’t being recognized enough?

Allowing your team members to suggest the qualities or actions for recognition can be really valuable. It doesn’t always have to be a monetary target; showing up daily with a friendly attitude or going above and beyond should be rewarded. Even if it’s a small gesture, it’ll be appreciated to know you’re noticing the effort.

What type of initiatives or incentives do you value most as a reward?

Rewards don’t always have to cost you something. You may think extra benefits or compensation is what your workforce craves, but actually, 78% of those who love their workplace say it’s because they’re valued and respected. A sincere thank you or a handwritten note can be all it takes to increase employee satisfaction.

21 Employee Recognition Survey Questions To Boost Satisfaction


Are the rewards and benefits proportional to the behaviors and achievements?

Your top salesperson earning you a huge profit shouldn’t just be rewarded with a “thank you”. Although, that should definitely come alongside whatever bonus you choose. This survey question forces you to look at the balance between the level of effort and recognition. If it’s off, things may well need a reshuffle.

How can we better align your professional growth with company goals?

Professional development is important for all employees, even for those happy in their roles. How are you helping to upskill your team? Do they have higher aspirations and career goals you don’t know about? This question is extremely important to help align personal and company goals and increase engagement in the process.

How could we improve our company’s recognition program?

If your company doesn’t have any employee recognition programs, you may want to look into creating one. You may choose to have a few different types, depending on the level of recognition needed:

  1. Public – run a press release or shout out on social media
  2. Private – hold a “thank you” meeting or send flowers to an employee’s home
  3. Promotion – offer a new job title or to join an executive meeting
  4. Monetary – a raise or gift card

How could we improve our company’s recognition program?


Your employees may have friends at organizations with great programs. So, let them tell you which they’d appreciate most and why.

How does recognition affect your engagement level?

Find out how being recognized for little wins and bigger achievements makes people feel. It’s a far more pleasant experience for both sides to give and receive praise. So, make it a regular thing that outweighs any negativity. Your employees may also share unique ideas that could skyrocket employee engagement and retention.

Do we recognize and reward extra effort or new ideas fairly?

Extra effort and constantly offering new ideas can be some of the most undervalued traits in employees because, if done often, they become the norm. Ask your employees if they feel they go above and beyond often or offer innovative suggestions and are overlooked. These engaged employees should be given the resources to stay creative and maintain that drive.

Employee Recognition Survey Questions for Management

Does your management team have the budget or resources they need for an effective employee recognition program? Is there even one in place to ensure consistency? These questions can help give you a more well-rounded picture of your organization.

If you have a management team working under you, ask them. It may help to make these surveys anonymous so people feel they can be honest without repercussions. Otherwise, you may need to answer these yourself as neutrally as possible.

How important do you think employee recognition is for our work culture?

This is an interesting opener to find out how your leadership team values recognition. It will also highlight if everyone understands your company mission and values. Leading with love should be the basis for your company culture. If there’s a misalignment, you need to start by getting everyone on the same page again.

Alignment of values


How often do you recognize employees for achievements?

This question (plus the employee version) will help you see if there’s a disconnect between management and the wider team. If team leaders feel they’re giving lots of recognition, but employees aren’t receiving enough, there needs to be a better way of tracking it to make sure it correlates.

How often do you ask for employee feedback on the amount of recognition they receive?

Has your leadership team ever asked employees for their opinion on workplace recognition in the past? If so, what was the outcome? Building a picture of past surveys or questions can help dictate if you’ve improved since.

What resources could we provide to help you increase employee satisfaction?

Your management team may have ideas for recognizing employees but feel there is no budget or time set out for it. They may also feel like they can’t come to you with suggestions, which is worrying. You should foster an environment of open communication between all levels of staff.

7 essential communication skills for leaders


How do you think recognition affects engagement and employee retention?

This survey question is important to ask both employees and managers. Many things affect employee engagement (including work-life balance and company culture), and we all face challenges outside of work. Breeding positivity in the workplace can be extremely beneficial for leadership and employee satisfaction.

Final Word

The fastest way to find out the happiness levels of your employees is to simply ask. These employee recognition survey questions should give you a well-rounded picture of the current experience you’re offering. You could even use a few of these to create pulse surveys that will more frequently assess how you’re progressing.

The Love of Workplace Index™ is a pulse survey that gives employees a chance to express their feelings about a company and the people they work with. Alongside well-researched psychological safety, organizational commitment/citizenship behaviors.

There is no point in asking these questions if you’re not going to make changes based on them. So, be prepared to potentially learn some hard truths, but know they’ll positively impact your organization in the long run.