For years, Gallup’s Q12 has been the go-to question set for organisations that want to measure how engaged their people are. But because those questions have been around for such a long time—and things have changed a lot in that time—they’re a little outdated now.
But by understanding the purpose of each of Gallup’s Q12 and sprinkling in a touch of fresh thinking, we’ve come up with 12 new and improved questions for the modern-day workplace. Oh, and we’re sharing them with you for free!
Behold… Hive’s Q12!
I know what is expected of me at work
I have a clear understanding of what is expected of me in my role
The science behind it: The boffins behind Gallup’s Q12 have identified that the most engaging workplaces have a defined set of goals and outcomes (sometimes people are even given the freedom to set their own goals). So, the key is to paint a clear picture of what good looks like and devise a simple way of measuring individual performance against what is expected.
Room for improvement: We all have a tendency to respond positively to questions if the tone makes it sound like we’re being tested (which Gallup’s does). It’s better to word the question in such a way that the respondent doesn’t feel the need to defend themselves; after all, it’s an examination of the organisation, not its people. Also, we might ‘think’ we know what’s expected of us, but unless it’s been clearly explained, we could be mistaken.
I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right
I believe I have everything I need to do my job to the best of my ability
The science behind it: According to Gallup, great managers identify what their people need, and empower them to procure anything they don’t already have.
Room for improvement: We all need so much more than just materials and equipment to do our jobs well: support, confidence, information, resources… so, why specify only the tangible elements?
At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
I am able to apply my strengths and skills in the work I do
The science behind it: This question reminds me of Drive by Daniel H. Pink; ‘mastery’ can be the key to engagement. The opportunity to get even better at something you’re already good at and put that into practice really ticks our fulfilment boxes. And Gallup reckons that excellent performance is found when people are in job roles that match what they naturally do best.
Room for improvement: It’s not always possible or reasonable to expect to be able to do what you do best every day (depending on what that may be). But there’s always a way to make use of your transferable skills to help you complete other tasks—if you have the freedom and opportunity to do so.
In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
People are well recognised for their contributions here
The science behind it: It’s elementary, dear Watson; people who don’t feel adequately recognised are twice as likely to look to quit in the next year (Gallup).
Room for improvement: Does everyone need to have their efforts recognised at least once a week to be engaged? No. The required frequency is dependent on the individual, with some needing more than others. The wording of the question is also quite leading, so it’d be better to soften it a bit.
My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
My manager takes the time to get to know me as a person
The science behind it: “People leave managers, not companies.” OK, that’s true… sometimes. The quality of your relationship with your manager has a big impact on your engagement—especially if that manager guides you and helps you develop.
Room for improvement: Is seeming to care enough? And surely it’s important that it’s your manager, not just any Tom, Dick or Harry, who cares about you.
There is someone at work who encourages my development
My manager is supportive of my personal development goals and aspirations
The science behind it: We’re human. We like to learn, grow and develop—all things that can be accelerated by working with someone more accomplished and experienced.
Room for improvement: Encouragement is great, but ongoing support is better. And ‘development’ is quite broad; what we really value is support in achieving our own personal goals.
At work, my opinions seem to count
I feel comfortable voicing my opinions, even they are different from my manager's
The science behind it: Unsurprisingly, we tend to be disengaged when we feel like we don’t matter or aren’t valued. On the other hand, we usually appreciate having a voice in what goes on at our workplace. And that’s all determined by how our organisation encourages and handles our ideas and concerns.
Room for improvement: Employee voice is undoubtedly part of a great culture. But it’s more than just our opinions counting; we also want to be confident we can offer a different perspective without any fear of reprimand.
The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important
I know how my specific role contributes to the success of this organisation
The science behind it: We all like to know that we’re making a difference—that the work we’re doing is important. So a clear understanding of how someone’s role contributes to their organisation’s big picture is a powerful thing.
Room for improvement: The crux of this question is to find out whether your people understand how their roles fit into the grand scheme, so why not make that as clear as possible?
My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
People in my team are held accountable for their results/
The science behind it: If we believe that everyone around us shares a commitment to producing quality work and we’re all pulling in the same direction, we get a sense of camaraderie and common purpose—which can drive engagement.
Room for improvement: While it’s great to work in a team full of people who want to do well, that usually comes from one place: accountability. If people aren’t held accountable for the standard of their work, there isn’t much incentive to go the extra mile.
I have a best friend at work
I have a good relationship with the other people in my team
The science behind it: There are several things going on here. Firstly, this question is about whether the individual considers themselves to have someone that they can really trust at work—someone that they can get support from when stressed or challenged. Secondly, it’s about loyalty. People are much less likely to leave if there’s a strong sense of loyalty to their coworkers.
Room for improvement: As adults, very few of us have a ‘best friend’; we tend to have a number of close friends. This could get in the way of gathering that actual data you want.
In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
My manager and I have regular conversations about my personal development
The science behind it: People want to understand how they’re doing. They want to know how they can improve, make a bigger contribution to the organisation and move up the ladder.
Room for improvement: Every six months? That’s just not regular enough for most people these days. But is there a prescribed optimum frequency? Well, no. As is so often the case, it depends on the individual.
This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow
I believe there are opportunities for me to develop my career here
The science behind it: It’s all well and good having conversations about progressing and developing, but we also need to be given the opportunities to act on those best laid plans.
Room for improvement: Putting a timeframe against this opens the door to a once-a-year attitude; people should always have opportunities to learn and grow.
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So there you have it: Hive’s Q12. All yours to use, no strings attached. Of course, the perfect question set would be tailored to your organisation’s individual priorities and the needs of your people, but Hive’s Q12 is a great place to start.
If you would like something more bespoke and unique to your organisation, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and our People Scientists will help you design your perfect survey strategy.
Reshaping HR: from the transactional to the transformational—are we capable and do we have the capacity? When: 10am GMT on Tuesday 16th March 2021