Workplace wellbeing question bank
What is this question bank?
The Workplace Wellbeing Question Bank includes a list of questions that can be used by employers to measure and monitor the wellbeing of employees. By asking people directly about how they feel about various aspects of the job, employers can better target wellbeing activities and programmes in the workplace to improve wellbeing.
This bank is a collection of validated questions, which have been developed and used by various organisations to measure different aspects of wellbeing.
The bank includes questions that cover all relevant aspects of wellbeing derived from existing frameworks of wellbeing and work.
For most of these questions there is national data available for you to compare the results for your employees against.
You can use these questions as the basis for your own questionnaire, tailoring and adapting it to the needs of your organisation and the specific circumstances of your employees and the sector your work in.
Some of the evidence-based frameworks re-visited included:
- OECD Guidelines on Measuring the Quality of the Working Environment
- Eurofound Job Quality Indices
- PERMA Profiler and its workplace adaptation
- CIPD Good Work Index
- University of Cardiff ‘How Good is My Job’ model
- UK Health & Safety Executive’s Management Standards
- BEIS Workplace Wellbeing and Performance Review
- DWP Framework for Voluntary Employer Reporting on Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Choosing the questions to include in your survey
Questions have been identified to cover the main wellbeing at work dimensions. We recommend that your survey includes questions that cover all the main domains. We also recognise that longer surveys have their limitations. For example, we helped to develop a shorter survey that includes a much narrower subset of these questions, which has been recommended by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Adding more detailed questions on one theme
Your survey might also benefit from adding more detailed modules on specific themes. For example, you may be more interested in looking at the wellbeing effects of irregular working hours which is difficult to capture through a single item.
Avoiding duplication of questions
You may notice that some questions tap into the same, or very similar, indicators. You can make your questionnaire more efficient by incorporating only one. For example, the statements ‘after I leave my work I keep worrying about job problems’ (I.7) and ‘I find it difficult to unwind at the end of a workday’ (I.8) both measure negative spillovers of working life into employees’ private lives. You can choose the one that best suits your sample of respondents.
Getting the wording and answer scales for each question right
Adapting the wording of questions
Because the questions are taken from a number of different surveys, you may want to make sure the question wording is as clear, consistent and relevant as possible, with appropriate preamble and definitions of terms, when using them in your survey.
This is possible to do, but to compare your responses with benchmark data you will need to make sure the questions’ meaning and key words are not changed.
Changing terms and pronouns
To give an example, you may want to change ‘You know what is expected of you at work’ (item D.5) to use the first person pronoun. It would then read: ‘I know what is expected of me at work’ to fit with the phrasing of other items in your survey.
Similarly, you may find it useful to change terms such as ‘your immediate boss’ (item H.3) to ‘your line manager’ (item H.2) in order to harmonise the questions.
Clarifying terms and reducing bias
Other terms might benefit from further clarification. For example, in the statement ‘I have the tools I need to do my job effectively’ (J.3), the term ‘tools’ can be interpreted as internal resources such as knowledge and skills, while other respondents are likely to interpret it in terms of systems and equipment.
Another example of a misinterpretation risk that can introduce response bias is the statement ‘I might lose my job in the next 6 months’ (E.2). The item is aimed at capturing job insecurity caused by the possibility of being made redundant, but other respondents might think of losing their current job as a result of job promotion. In these cases, clarifying the meaning of the terms will help you obtain more valid results. You can add a clarification after the question, which allows for easier benchmarking. You can also adapt the wording of the question itself.
Changing the response scales
You might want to avoid confusing respondents by using only one response scale throughout the entire questionnaire. This is especially the case with longer questionnaires. For some questions this is possible to do, while keeping the question meaning unchanged and then calibrating the responses to the benchmark data scale. Any change in scale will however make it more difficult to directly compare the results against the benchmarks.
Understanding how your survey results compare with national averages
The majority of the questions presented here have been previously used in national and international specialised surveys representative of the British working population.
In order to compare your own survey results directly with national averages, the questions included in this bank appear with the original form of words and response scales used in the national surveys.
For most items we have compiled comparable data disaggregated by gender, age groups, ethnicity, region, occupation and industry. However, for most questions, the national data was collected before the Covid-19 pandemic, which should be considered when making any comparisons of the results.
Benchmarking data is available on request.
Using composite indices
While the question bank is flexible and allows you to pick the themes that are most relevant, the question bank contains two composite measures: WHO-5 and Workplace PERMA Profiler.
The 5-item World Health Organization Index (WHO-5) is a reliable and valid instrument to capture mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It is constructed by adding the scores of the following five items:
- ‘I have felt cheerful and in good spirits’ (B.5)
- ‘I have felt calm and relaxed’ (B.6)
- ‘I have felt active and vigorous’ (B.7)
- ‘I woke up feeling fresh and rested’ (B.8)
- ‘My daily life has been filled with things that interest me’ (B.9).
Each statement is answered in a six-point scale from ‘at no time’ (0) through to ‘all of the time’ (5). To find the composite score, add together the total for the five answers for each respondent. This means a value of 0 represents the least healthy mental state and high risk of depression. A value of 25 represents the healthiest possible psychological state.2
The Workplace PERMA Profiler is an adaptation of Seligman’s (2011) PERMA model and includes five items that capture the five pillars of a ‘flourishing’ life in a work setting:
- positive emotion (B.10)
- engagement (B.11)
- relationships (H.1)
- meaning (D.6)
- accomplishment (D.10).
Each statement is answered in a 11-point scale from ‘never’ or ‘not at all’ (0) through to ‘all of the time’ or ‘completely’ (5). To find the composite score, calculate the average of the total for the five answers for each respondent. A value of 0 represents the least flourishing life; a value of 10 represents the most highly flourishing state.
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