Peakon’s standard question library includes one main engagement question, 14 driver and 31 sub-driver questions.
Each driver represents a different element of organisational psychology. Below you’ll find a summary of the theory and research that Peakon draws each question from, along with the wording of the questions.
There are 14 core driver questions and 31 sub-driver questions. For example, the Growth driver has three sub-driver questions related to Development, Learning, and Mentoring. Employees respond to each question by rating how strongly they agree with the statements on a 0 to 10 scale.
Employee engagement is an outcome of the relationship between an organisation and its employees. An engaged employee is fully absorbed in and enthusiastic about their work, with a high level of commitment to the company and its goals.
The engagement question follows the methodology of eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score). This question causes people to consider many factors that influence engagement (satisfaction with the organisation’s culture, work environment, career prospects, brand) and apply them to a very simple decision making process.
- Question: How likely is it you would recommend [Company Name] as a place to work?
Additional engagement questions that can be activated:
- ‘Loyalty’ outcome question: If you were offered the same job at another organisation, how likely is it that you would stay with [Company Name]?
- ‘Satisfaction’ outcome question: Overall, how satisfied are you working for [Company Name]?
- ‘Belief’ outcome question: How likely is it you would recommend [Company Name] products or services to friends and family?
Relates to the degree with which employees feel like they are accomplishing things on a day-to-day basis. Competence (sense of accomplishment) is one of three motivational needs (the other two being relatedness and autonomy) defined in Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci).
If an individual begins to perceive him or herself as incompetent at an activity, then his or her intrinsic motivation is undermined. Conversely Ryan & Deci found that giving people unexpected positive feedback on a task increases people’s intrinsic motivation to do it, because the positive feedback fulfils people's need for competence.
- Driver question: Most days I feel a sense of accomplishment from what I do.
- ‘Challenging’ sub-driver question: I have the opportunity to do challenging things at work.
Concerns an employee's ability to get their work done in a way they see fit, unhindered by micro-management. Autonomy is core to many theories on motivation and engagement, including Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci), Job Characteristics Model (Hackman & Oldham), and Employee Engagement (Kahn).
Self Determination Theory proved that controlling behaviour (i.e. reduced autonomy) can undermine intrinsic motivation; the outcome is then either a state of extrinsic motivation (the activity might continue dependent on rewards and/or coercion), or a state of amotivation.
- Driver question: I feel like I am given enough freedom to decide how to do my work.
- ‘Flexibility’ sub-driver question: My work schedule is flexible enough to deal with family or personal life.
- ‘Remote work’ sub-driver question: I am satisfied with our work from home policy.
Concerns whether employees believe their physical environment has a positive effect on their work and how it’s done. A British government study (cabe, 2005) described the profound link between office design and employee performance – highlighting the need for unstructured spaces (neither workstations, nor formal conference rooms) to facilitate the collaboration required by modern knowledge work. Rashid (2015) also emphasised informal spaces as a key to benefiting from colocation and improving teamwork.
- Driver question: My workplace is free from distractions and I find it easy to focus on my work.
- ‘Collaboration’ sub-driver question: I can easily find space away from my desk for conversations and collaboration with others.
- ‘Informal’ sub-driver question: When I need a break, my workplace has spaces to chat and relax with others.
- ‘Equipment’ sub-driver question: I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job well.
Freedom of opinions
Reflects the extent to which employees feel they are able to express their opinions without fear of retribution. Freedom of opinions stems from the theoretical need for “safety”. Safety in this context refers to psychological safety (e.g. being oneself without fear of mental or emotional bullying). It is also conceptually similar to autonomy and relatedness; the need to feel connected to others and to feel like you belong. Ultimately people don’t feel like they belong to a group if they can’t be themselves.
- Driver question: At work, my opinions seem to count.
- ‘Manager’ sub-driver question: My manager cares about my opinions.
- ‘Team’ sub-driver question: my co-workers welcome opinions different from their own.
As Maslow (1943) showed, when we feel able to meet current and future needs, and have a good understanding of what we are expected to achieve, this enables us to fully apply ourselves at work. Without a way to understand our own performance, anxiety around how others perceive us (management and peers) erodes our capability for self-expression (Brown & Leigh 1996).
Well formulated goals contribute towards the fulfilment of Self-Determination Theory's needs for 'competence', and 'relatedness' – when the goals create a shared purpose that's felt by a team (as opposed to competition between peers).
- Driver question: At work, I know what is expected of me every day.
- ‘Alignment’ sub-driver question: I understand how my work supports the goals of my team and department.
Relates to the opportunities that employees perceive they have, in terms of personal and career development. Growth features in almost every theory on motivation and engagement, including Two Factor Theory (Herzberg), ERG Theory (Alderfer), and Employee Engagement (Kahn).
“Growth need” describes the degree to which a person has higher order needs, such as self-esteem and self-actualisation (e.g., to progress toward one's ideal self). This includes desires to be creative and productive, and to complete meaningful tasks. According to ERG Theory, growth need can fluctuate depending on career stage or individual preferences, for instance some employees may just expect a job to pay the bills.
- Driver question: I feel that I’m growing professionally.
- ‘Career Development’ sub-driver question: I see a path for me to advance my career in our organisation.
- ‘Learning’ sub-driver question: My job enables me to learn and develop new skills.
- ‘Mentoring’ sub-driver question: Either my manager or a mentor encourages and supports my development.
While all of Peakon’s drivers can be heavily influenced by managers, management support focuses specifically on the quality of the relationship between individuals and their direct managers.
Manager (or supervisor) support has featured in almost every theory on engagement and motivation from Herzberg onwards. Tending to view our manager’s orientation towards us as indicative of organisational support (Rhoades & Eisenberger 2002), the amount of cognitive and emotional resources we receive from our managers – along with the physical – appears to dictate the amount of energy and commitment we are willing to invest in our work role (Saks 2006).
- Driver question: My manager provides me with the support I need to complete my work.
- ‘Caring’ sub-driver question: My manager cares about me as a person.
- ‘Openness’ sub-driver question: My manager communicates openly and honestly with me.
Concerns whether employees consider their work to be valuable – to themselves, the company, and potentially society at large. Meaningfulness has its roots in Job Characteristics Theory (Hackman & Oldham), but was formally conceptualised in Kahn’s Employee Engagement Theory as the feeling that one’s work was worthwhile, useful, and valuable; as though employees made a difference and were not taken for granted. People felt meaningful when they were able to give to others and to the work itself in their roles, and also able to receive.
- Driver question: The work I do is meaningful to me.
- ‘Fit’ sub-driver question: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- ‘Significance’ sub-driver question: I make a difference in my team.
Relates to the degree with which employees feel like the culture and values of the organisation match their own. Organisational fit first came to prominence in the 1980s as part of Person Environment Fit Theory (French, Caplan, & Harrison). Person–organisation fit (PO fit) is the most widely studied area of person–environment fit, and is defined by Kristof (1996) as the compatibility between people and organisations, which occurs when at least one entity provides what the other needs; they share similar fundamental characteristics; or both. High value congruence is a large facet of person–organisation fit, which implies a strong culture and shared values among coworkers.
- Driver question: [Company Name]’s values provide a good fit with the things that I consider important in life.
- ‘Support’ sub-driver question: [Company Name] really cares about my mental well-being.
- ‘Health’ sub-driver question: Working here, I feel that I can live a physically healthy lifestyle.
- 'Equality' sub-driver question: People from all backgrounds are treated fairly at [Company Name].
- 'Response' sub-driver question: If I experienced serious misconduct at work, I’m confident [Company Name] would take action to rectify the situation.
Relates to the health of employees' relationships with others in the organisation. Strong peer relationships foster an environment of trust. Employees that care about each other personally generally share values and watch out for each other. They will be more inclined to go the extra mile and more likely to work as a team.
As a result, the team will communicate more openly. Often, it will also be more productive, as employees are less afraid of taking risks and making decisions, and have to spend less time watching their backs.
- Driver question: I can count on my co-workers to help out when needed.
- ‘Friends’ sub-driver question: I consider the people I regularly interact with to be my friends.
- ‘Quality’ sub-driver question: My coworkers are committed to doing quality work.
Relates to whether an employee feels their work is valued by the organisation – strongly linked to the feedback and praise they receive. Recognition (or feedback) is a strong component of both Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci), and the Job Characteristics Model (Hackman & Oldham). Feedback refers to the degree to which people learn how effective they are being at work.
Feedback at work may come from other people, such as supervisors, peers, subordinates, and customers, or it may come from the job itself. A salesperson who gives presentations to potential clients but is not informed of the clients' decisions, has low feedback at work. If this person receives notification that a sale was made based on the presentation, feedback will be high.
- Driver question: If I do great work, I know that it will be recognised.
- ‘Performance’ sub-driver question: I get enough feedback to understand if I’m doing my job well.
Relates to how satisfied employees are with their total compensation. Equity theory states that employees are motivated when their inputs (e.g., effort, knowledge, skill, loyalty) are matched by outcomes (e.g., pay, bonuses, benefits, recognition), which creates a sense of equity or fairness.
When employees feel under-rewarded, they may restore perceived equity by reducing their inputs (slacking off), attempting to reduce others’ inputs (convincing coworkers to do less work), seeking to increase their outcomes (asking for a raise), or aiming to decrease coworkers’ outcomes (asking the boss to standardise salaries).
- Driver question: I am fairly rewarded (e.g. pay, promotion, training) for my contributions to [Company Name].
- ‘Effort’ sub-driver question: I believe my effort, skill and experience are accurately reflected in my pay.
- ‘Process’ sub-driver question: The processes for calculating pay in our organisation seem fair and unbiased.
- ‘Discussion’ sub-driver question: I can have well-informed and constructive conversations with my manager about pay.
Relates to the degree employees understand and agree with the overall strategy for the organisation. Many theories – from Herzberg onwards - take into account the perceived efficacy of senior management, of which strategy is usually the largest component.
A strategy that is recognised to consider the needs, values, and skills of employees builds 'relatedness' (Deci & Ryan 1985) and increases the sense of purpose in our work (Kahn 1990).
- Driver question: The overall business goals and strategies set by senior leadership are taking [Company Name] in the right direction.
- ‘Communication’ sub-driver question: Our organisation does a good job of communicating the goals and strategies set by senior leadership.
- ‘Mission’ sub-driver question: I’m inspired by the purpose and mission of our organisation.
Related to whether employees feel the amount of work they’re responsible for is reasonable or a cause of stress, potentially leading to burnout. Defined by psychologists Leiter, Schaufeli, and Maslach (2001), burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. They cite engagement as the positive antithesis of burnout.
- Driver question: I find my workload manageable.