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The Power of Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement Survey

The No. 1 reason Gallup's survey is so powerful is that it provides your company with a proven foundation for improving sales, retention, productivity, profitability, customer ratings and more.

We've studied over 100,000+ teams -- and over 2.7 million workers worldwide -- to understand what employees need most to perform at their best.

The Q12 survey is the culmination of that research.

The insights you'll get from the Q12 will help your leaders, managers and teams focus on the issues that matter most to performance outcomes.

Top 3 Reasons People Use the Q12 Survey:
  • No other measure of employee engagement is proven to link to performance like Gallup's Q12.
  • The 12 items give managers a framework to use to have more motivating conversations with employees.
  • Get extensive database comparisons to know where you stand against the competition.

Survey Questions: Gallup's 12 Items

Gallup has identified 12 foundational elements of employee engagement that predict high team performance.

They work for measuring performance because they describe the fundamental psychological requirements for unleashing human potential.

Why It's Important

Clear expectations are the most basic and fundamental employee need. Employees who strongly agree that their job description aligns with the work they do are 2.5 times more likely than other employees to be engaged.

Employees need to grasp the fundamentals of their work, which are not limited to their job description. In many cases, employees are held accountable for work that doesn't match their job description, which can confuse and frustrate them as they try to do their job and make decisions every day.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in two employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. By increasing that ratio to eight in 10, organizations could realize a 22% reduction in turnover, a 29% reduction in safety incidents and a 10% increase in productivity.

What the Best Do

The greatest pitfall of the first element is that managers assume the simplicity of the statement means they have a simple solution when their employees disagree with this element: "If people don't know what's expected, I'll just tell them." But helping employees understand what their manager and organization expect from them requires much more than just telling them what to do.

The most effective managers define and discuss the explicit and implicit expectations for each employee. They paint a picture of outstanding performance and help employees recognize how their work leads to the success of their coworkers, their business area and the entire organization.

Why It's Important

Of the 12 elements, a person having the materials and equipment to do their work well is the strongest indicator of job stress.

Despite the functional nature of this statement, this element measures both physical resource needs and potential barriers between the employer and employee. Employees get frustrated with their manager or organization for creating goals and expectations that seem impossible to achieve.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that they have the materials and equipment they need to do their work right. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize an 11% increase in profitability, a 35% reduction in safety incidents and a 28% improvement in quality.

What the Best Do

"Materials and equipment" is not just a checklist of tools. It includes the tangible and intangible resources employees need to do their job. In today's workforce, information and empowerment are often as necessary as technology and office supplies.

The most effective managers don't assume what their team needs. They ask for and listen to their employees' needs and advocate for those needs when necessary. They also find ways to make the most of their team's ingenuity and talents when they cannot fully fund requests.

Why It's Important

One of the most powerful strategies for managers and organizations is giving their employees opportunities to apply the best of their natural selves (their talents) as well as their skills and knowledge. As the leading attribute employees look for in a new job -- and its absence one of the main reasons employees leave a job -- when people get to do what they do best every day at work, the organizations they work for get a boost in employee attraction, engagement and retention.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 6% increase in customer engagement scores, an 11% increase in profitability, a 30% reduction in turnover and a 36% reduction in safety incidents.

What the Best Do

Successful managers get to know their employees as individuals and give them opportunities to apply the best of their natural selves -- their talents. They talk to each employee about their unique value and make adjustments to align work, when possible, with team members' talents. The best managers know where their employees excel and position them so that they are engaged and provide maximum value to the organization.

Why It's Important

Top performers are hard to find. And once an organization hires them, it needs to make sure these employees feel valued for their work and contributions, or they could be at risk of leaving. Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year.

Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for the work they do. Recognition also sends a message to other employees about what success looks like.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in four employees strongly agree that they have received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last week. By moving that ratio to six in 10, organizations could realize a 28% improvement in quality, a 31% reduction in absenteeism and a 12% reduction in shrinkage.

What the Best Do

The most effective leaders create a recognition-rich environment with praise coming from multiple sources at multiple times. The best managers learn how individuals like to be recognized, and they recognize them timely and often for achieving their goals and demonstrating high performance. They also explain why their performance matters.

Why It's Important

Employees need to know that they are more than just a number. They need to know that someone is concerned about them as people first and as employees second. The fifth element of engagement may seem like a "soft" aspect of management, but there are key payoffs when people work in an environment where they feel safe.

They are more likely to experiment with new ideas, share information and support each other in their work and personal lives. They are prepared to give their manager and organization the benefit of the doubt, and they feel more equipped to strike a balance between their work and personal lives.

In turn, they are more likely to be advocates for their employer.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, four in 10 employees strongly agree that their supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about them as a person. By doubling that ratio to eight in 10, organizations could realize an 8% improvement in customer engagement scores, a 46% reduction in safety incidents and a 41% reduction in absenteeism.

What the Best Do

Few managers take defined action to meet this employee need because caring about someone else cannot be manufactured. But the most successful managers know employees as individuals, acknowledge achievements, have performance conversations, conduct formal reviews and, above all, respect their employees.

These behaviors build a work environment where employees feel safe experimenting with new ideas, sharing information, exploring opportunities for development, and supporting each other in their work and personal lives.

Why It's Important

Gallup data show that lack of development and career growth is the No. 1 reason employees leave a job. Development is part of the unwritten social contract workers expect when they are hired.

However, personal and professional development does not occur in a vacuum. It takes effort and attention. Employees need help navigating their career, whether that is through sponsorship, coaching, protection, exposure, visibility or challenging work assignments.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, three in 10 employees strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development. By moving that ratio to six in 10, organizations could realize a 6% improvement in customer engagement scores, an 11% improvement in profitability and a 28% reduction in absenteeism.

What the Best Do

One common misunderstanding about this element of engagement is that "development" means "promotion." But they are not the same thing. A promotion is a one-time event. Development is a process of understanding each person's unique talents and strengths and finding roles, positions and projects that allow employees to apply them.

Great managers coach employees by identifying wins and misses, motivating them to go beyond what they think they can do, connecting them with potential mentors, and holding them accountable for their performance.

Why It's Important

The days of managers and leaders having to know it all are quickly vanishing as organizations accept the fact that they are facing unprecedented change, competition and stagnant organic growth. No leader or manager can survive alone, nor do they have all the answers. This element of engagement is powerful and measures employees' sense of value and contribution.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in four employees strongly agree that their opinions count at work. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 22% reduction in turnover, a 33% reduction in safety incidents and a 10% increase in productivity.

What the Best Do

Asking for and considering individuals' input leads to more informed decision-making and encourages new ideas that positively influence business results. The best managers promote open dialogue and provide honest feedback on employees' opinions and ideas -- supporting good ideas and addressing unfeasible ones. Great managers create feedback loops, so people feel like they are involved in the decision-making process.

Why It's Important

The absence of many engagement elements -- job clarity, proper equipment and resources, work that aligns with one's talents, consistent feedback -- can create real obstacles to productivity. It's easy to see why employees need these elements to do their job well. The same cannot be said for the eighth element.

It is a strictly emotional need, and a higher-level one at that, as if employees cannot energize themselves to do all they could do without knowing how their job fits into the grander scheme of things. The data say that is just what happens.

If a job were just a job, it really wouldn't matter where someone worked. But employees want their job to have meaning. In fact, for millennials, this element was among the strongest drivers of retention.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their organization makes them feel their job is important. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 34% reduction in absenteeism, a 41% drop in patient safety incidents and a 19% improvement in quality.

What the Best Do

Many leaders and managers think that putting the organization's mission statement on a wall is enough for employees to feel this connection. It is not.

Leaders must ensure that the organization's mission and purpose are clear and aligned with the employee experience. Managers play a significant role in helping employees understand how their role and daily tasks contribute to the organization's mission. Great managers create opportunities for employees to share mission moments and stories about the organization achieving its purpose.

Why It's Important

Trusting that one's coworkers share a commitment to quality is vital to excellent team performance. And as work is becoming more interconnected, interdependent and project-based, this element is critical.

The worst performer on the team sets the team's standards. By a 6-to-1 margin, people are more upset with a colleague who has the ability but does not try than with a colleague who tries hard but does not have much ability.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that their associates are committed to doing quality work. By doubling this ratio, organizations could realize a 31% reduction in turnover and absenteeism, a 12% improvement in profit, and a 7% increase in customer engagement scores.

What the Best Do

Employees need to be in an environment where there is mutual trust and respect for each other's efforts and results. This starts with a deep awareness of work standards and team expectations.

Great managers do not stand by and watch their team erode. They establish clear standards of performance, hold employees accountable and foster an environment of excellence by recognizing and sharing examples of exceptional work.

Why It's Important

More than any other Q12 statement, "I have a best friend at work" tends to generate questions and skepticism. But there is one stubborn fact: It predicts performance.

Early research on employee engagement and the Q12 elements revealed a unique social trend among employees on top-performing teams. When employees have a deep sense of affiliation with their team members, they take positive actions that benefit the business -- actions they may not otherwise even consider.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, three in 10 employees strongly agree that they have a best friend at work. By moving that ratio to six in 10, organizations could realize 28% fewer safety incidents, 5% higher customer engagement scores and 10% higher profit.

What the Best Do

The best employers recognize that people want to build meaningful friendships and that company loyalty is built on these relationships. But friendships at work need to be put in the proper context.

Managers should not try to manufacture friendships or to make everyone be friends. Rather, they should create situations where people can get to know each other.

The best managers look for opportunities to get their team together for events, encourage people to share stories about themselves and plan for time to socialize at work when it will not disrupt customer service or other performance outcomes.

Why It's Important

For all the complexity of performance appraisals -- balanced scorecards, 360-degree feedback, self-evaluations and forced grading reports -- the statement that reveals the best connection between perceptions of evaluations and actual employee performance is remarkably simple: "In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress."

This statement does not specify that the discussion is an official review. What is most important to employees is that they understand how they are doing, how their work is perceived and what the future holds. There is nothing wrong with formal evaluations, and there are many reasons to recommend them.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that someone at work has talked to them about their progress in the last six months. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize 38% fewer safety incidents, 28% less absenteeism and 11% higher profit.

What the Best Do

When a manager regularly checks in on their employees' progress, team members are more likely to believe they get paid fairly, more likely to stay with the company and more than twice as likely to recommend the company to others as a great place to work.

Great managers have frequent conversations -- formal and informal -- with employees about how they are doing. In short, they are coaches, providing immediate, constructive and motivating feedback to help employees achieve increasingly better results.

Why It's Important

The desire to learn and grow is a basic human need and required to maintain employee momentum and motivation. This element is also critical in a time when companies are hungry for organic growth.

When people grow, companies grow and are more likely to stay in business. When employees feel like they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently.

But when they have to do the same thing every day without a chance to learn something new, they rarely stay enthusiastic or excited about their jobs.

Why It's Important by the Numbers

Globally, one in three employees strongly agree that they have opportunities at work to learn and grow. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize 39% less absenteeism, 36% fewer safety incidents and 14% higher productivity.

What the Best Do

Successful managers challenge employees, create learning opportunities and frequently ask employees what they are learning.

Beyond providing training, they encourage employees to learn new skills or find better ways to do a job. They talk with employees about short-term and long-term growth goals, and they are open to allowing their employees to take on new responsibilities and roles.

Can I ask my employees other questions in addition to the 12 engagement items?

While the 12 elements make up the core Q12 survey, we have dozens of other tested and validated questions that build these items. And you can access all these question items and more when you purchase a one-time or ongoing subscription to Gallup Access.

Other survey question topics include inclusion, leadership and employee experience.

The Unique Benefits

1. No other measure of employee engagement is proven to link to performance like Gallup's Q12.

Our employee engagement science and history researching the topic is unmatched. We've been studying human nature and performance for over 75 years.

When comparing top-quartile with bottom-quartile engagement, Gallup found that business units and teams resulted in median percent differences of:

Fewer Negative Outcomes:

Down triangle
81%
in absenteeism
Down triangle
18%
in turnover for high-turnover organizations*
Down triangle
43%
in turnover for low-turnover organizations*
Down triangle
28%
in shrinkage (theft)
Down triangle
64%
in safety incidents (accidents)
Down triangle
58%
in patient safety incidents (mortality and falls)
Down triangle
41%
in quality (defects)

*High-turnover organizations are those with more than 40% annualized turnover. Low-turnover organizations are those with 40% or lower annualized turnover.

More Positive Outcomes:

Up Triangle
10%
in customer loyalty/engagement
Up Triangle
14%
in productivity (production records and evaluations)
Up Triangle
18%
in productivity (sales)

Greater Organizational Success:

Up Triangle
23%
in profitability
Up Triangle
66%
in wellbeing (thriving employees)
Up Triangle
13%
in organizational citizenship (participation)

2. The 12 items give managers a framework to use to have more motivating conversations with employees.

Gallup's research has found that a small percentage of employees strongly agree that their employer or manager delivers on the 12 elements. This means that companies can do more to meet the fundamental psychological needs of their people.

The Q12 framework and learning resources help leaders and managers fully integrate each item's concepts into casual conversations, meeting agendas, performance evaluations and team goal setting.

Instead of employee engagement being an annual to-do, it can become an integral part of your company's daily culture by using our framework.

3. Get extensive database comparisons -- that only Gallup has -- to know where you stand against the competition.

A number is just a number -- until you have the right context. Database comparisons help you understand what the norm is for other teams and companies like yours.

For example, on a 5-point scale, is an average response of "3" high or low? With our comparisons, you will know where you rank on each item compared with other similar-sized companies.

845 million
responses
42 million
respondents
5 million
business units
212
countries
74
languages
95
major industries

Can I use the Q12 questions through another survey provider?

All of Gallup's survey items are proprietary. No other survey provider offers the benchmark comparisons that help you understand what your employee engagement scores really mean.

The Premium Features Our Survey Offers

  • Each item is tested and scientifically validated as an accurate measure of employee engagement.
  • Each item is proven to link to performance outcomes across industries, cultures, company size and nationality -- in good economic times and bad.
  • Each item is written by experts for clarity.
  • Each item has a high participation rate.
  • Each item is paired with actionable advice to help managers improve team performance.
  • Each item has extensive benchmark comparisons.

How It Works

Who can purchase the Q12 survey? Anyone can purchase and administer the survey through our online platform, Gallup Access. Learn more below about our plans and pricing options for your unique needs.

How many people do I need on my team or in my company to take the survey? To ensure confidentiality, a minimum of four participants must take the survey.

How do I administer the survey? You can administer the survey at any time after your purchase it through Gallup Access.

When is the best time to send the survey? The best time to send the survey is when most employees can complete it (avoid peak vacation times and holidays) and when there's time to report, discuss and act on the goals from previous survey results.

How to Get Started

Learn about Q12 survey pricing and plans for organizations.

Subscribe to our platform to get unlimited access to both Gallup's Q12 survey and everything you need to boost employee engagement.

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Purchase a one-time Q12 survey.

Purchase a one-time Q12 survey and get limited access to our platform for 12 months. *We recommend this option for small teams and organizations.

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