An effective way for businesses to uncover what goes on within their organizations and to drive worker productivity is to have an employee roundtable. A roundtable is a discussion between a small and diverse group of employees from different sectors of an organization. Their input can give managers insights into how employees experience their work life on the ground. Roundtable discussions encourage employee input and offer management opportunities to understand their workers' needs.

Company Mission and Principles

Most organizations have a vision or mission statement. Ask employees, "Do you know the company's mission statement?" If you don’t want to put employees on the spot, you might write your mission statement on a whiteboard ahead of time and start with, “What do you think of our company’s mission statement?

You can take either of these questions to the next level by asking employees, if they were going to change the company’s mission statement, what would they add or take away. It’s important that all questions be opened ended to encourage thinking and discussion. Stay away from yes/no questions.

Opportunities to Advance

Advancement opportunities are important to most employees. Examples of questions leaders should ask their employees are "Do you feel advancement opportunities exist within the organization?" and “What kind of training or professional development would you have access to?” Questions like these can help you understand how workers perceive the career development and opportunities with your company.

Answers to this question can also tip you off as to why employees leave to pursue other employment opportunities. Employees who feel they can grow with a company are more likely to remain there and perform optimally.

A good question to ask in any roundtable is, “What is the biggest challenge facing you (or your department) right now? "This can be followed by, “What do you need to meet this challenge?” and “What can I do to help?” Questions like these show employees that you care about the issues they’re grappling with and want to support them. This kind of attention and involvement by a boss can help retain employees.

Recognition and Rewards

Questions to ask employees to improve morale can include queries about employee recognition programs. It’s important for employers to know how workers perceive recognition efforts. Ask, "What does the organization do to recognize and praise optimal performance?" This challenges employees to think about the forms of recognition the company currently offers.

Ask them what their biggest accomplishment was in the past month or quarter. Encourage them to talk about work they’re particularly proud of. Finally, ask them to brainstorm about ways to formally recognize workers and identify areas where employee performance has gone unnoticed.

Sufficient Employee Resources

Miscommunication between workers and management could lead to poor job performance. On one hand, employees might feel they do not have the necessary tools to do their jobs properly. On the other hand, management might think it provides employees with all of the resources they need.

By asking employees, "What tools and resources do you need to perform your job duties well?" managers can implement new training programs as well as provide workers with the appropriate tools to meet their needs. If you want to know what their key priorities are, ask, “If you could add one additional resource to your department, what would it be?

Employee Roundtable Role Reversal

Nothing says says this is a two way street better than doing a little role reversal. You might want to allow time at the end of the roundtable to encourage employees to ask you questions. You might even devise a way to have employees submit their questions anonymously before the meeting so they feel free to ask questions that they might be shy about asking in front of the group.

Pose questions to ask employees about their managers performance. Don’t set it up as grievance session by focusing on individuals. Ask general questions about how management can be more responsive to workers. Try a hypothetical question like, “If you were manager for a day, what would you change?