A Guide to Employee Benefits Surveys: Best Practices and a Template to Get Started


A Guide to Employee Benefits Surveys: Best Practices and a Template to Get Started

Employee benefits play a leading role in supporting employers’ goals of recruiting and retaining a productive and diverse workforce. In fact, in 2022, a desire for better benefits is the third leading reason for employee attrition, trailing only the desire for better compensation and flexibility. 

Supporting the needs of your diverse workforce means implementing an equitable benefits program to provide resources that employees at every life stage will use and value. Employees’ needs aren’t always aligned with their age, gender identity, or location, so it’s important to ask them—regularly—about what support and resources they need today to be productive and happy at work.

One of the best ways to get a sense of what benefits matter the most to your employees is by conducting an employee benefits survey. 

What is an Employee Benefits Survey?

An employee benefits survey is a questionnaire that asks employees to provide feedback about the company’s current benefit offerings. It’s also a chance to ask employees about additional benefit preferences to support them at home and work.

Employee benefit surveys help employers understand what benefits matter most to their workforce, while identifying additional opportunities to support them and boost employee morale and retention rates. 

When to Survey Employees

Survey frequency may vary based on your team’s bandwidth, but we recommend issuing a survey at least twice a year. Life changes quickly. It’s important to keep a pulse on the evolving needs of your workforce so you can identify:

  • Opportunities to “re-launch” or promote existing benefits
  • New benefit needs for segments of your workforce
  • Legacy benefits that are underutilized due to lack of interest or need

Use this framework to build your own timeline to create, launch, and analyze your employee survey.

ActionTime Frame
Customize the survey template from Care for Business for your company. Share with stakeholders for approval.Day 1
Build the survey in the desired tool and test with 2-4 peers.Day 3
Launch survey in company-wide email using best practices to drive survey adoption as outlined below.Day 7
Send reminder communications to the workforce to complete the survey through a variety of internal channels.Day 8
Analyze survey results and identify next steps.Day 11
Let your employees know you’re listening! Share a survey results summary and general observations with the organization, along with your next steps based on the data.Day 21

How to Create an Employee Benefit Survey 

There are a variety of free and low-cost survey tools available for employers. Check with your IT teams on available resources that comply with your corporate security policies, or explore:

  • Google Forms: This is a free option if your company uses Google Workspace. You can build a simple survey that will push results to a Google Sheet, where you then analyze results with basic Excel functions.
  • SurveyMonkey: There are both free and enterprise versions available with a variety of features to help you distribute, customize, and analyze the results.
  • Employee engagement software: Check out SHRM’s list of Employee Engagement Vendors who offer more advanced and customizable features for employee engagement surveys and monitoring.

How to Distribute an Employee Benefit Survey

To drive the most participation from your workforce, you want the survey to be shared far and wide. Consider a multi-channel approach to launching the survey to capture attention from every employee.

  1. Email: Tried and true, for those that use it, they will see it. Keep your email copy short and sweet, and highlight your goals and any opportunity to win a prize/raffle for participating. Above all, make sure your deadline is clear!
  2. Slack/Teams: For some, they spend their days amongst the “channels.” If you have a channel for the whole company, HR, or both—share a link to the survey and a brief description here. Point to your email for more detail.
  3. Managers: Every manager has 1:1s and team meetings. Have them add the survey to their agenda to ensure every employee is aware. 
    • TIP: You could launch a competition and reward the top three teams with the highest participation percentage with lunch or a DoorDash gift card.
  4. Workday task: Create a task in Workday (or your HRIS system) for every employee. 
  5. All-hands announcement: Have a big all-hands coming up? Add this survey to the agenda to catch people while you have their undivided attention.

Tips for Driving Survey Participation

Survey response rates can average 25-60% based on the responsiveness of your workforce and type of survey you release. During your planning phase, consider these three tips to driving survey participation:

  1. Make it easy: Any tasks outside of an employee’s required workload should be easy to complete. Keep this in mind as you build your survey. Is it accessible on mobile? Is it easy to click through and complete?
  2. Make it meaningful: Be transparent—what’s in it for them? By completing this survey you’re going to better understand their needs today so you can optimize your employee benefits to better support them at home and at work. 
  3. Make it fun: Everyone loves a little competition or a reward. Offer a small prize or gift card for the first [#] participants, or raffle a desirable item to those who participate by the survey deadline (gift card, Apple Watch, company swag, etc.).

Post-Employee Benefit Survey Follow Up

After the survey, make sure you provide a summary to your senior leadership and those who participated. 

  • For senior leadership: Share survey response rate, key learnings, and recommended next steps for benefit evaluation, sunsetting, or expansion based on those learnings.
  • For employees: Thank them for their participation, celebrate the response rate, and create a list of “we heard you” bullets with high-level summaries of their wants and needs. Share a statement about exploring how you plan to optimize your benefit package to meet those needs in the near future.

Sample Employee Benefit Survey Questions

When writing your survey, keep it quick and easy. Try not to overcomplicate your questions and responses, but avoid repetition in structure to prevent employees from “clicking through” without actually providing honest input. 

The sample survey questions below are designed to identify trends in workforce needs, evaluate awareness and interest in your existing benefits, and identify opportunities for benefit enhancement moving forward.

  1. On a scale of 1-5, how familiar are you with [Company]’s employee benefits?
  2. Which health care plan are you currently enrolled in? 
  3. What is your perception of our health care plan today?
  4. Rank, in order, the benefits you value the most today.
  5. Which of the benefits have you used, or do you plan to use in the near future?
  6. What benefits have you heard of from other employers that you wish we offered?
  7. If we had to sunset an existing benefit, to add what you listed above, what benefit would you be willing to give up?

Employee Benefit Survey Template

If you’d like to get started on creating your own employee benefit survey questionnaire, we’ve created an employee benefit survey template based on the questions above.

This downloadable template includes several more questions, along with examples of multiple-choice answers, that you can copy and customize for your company.