Going In-depth with the Gallup Q12 Survey

Brent O'Bannon CliftonStrengths

Over 25 years ago the Gallup organization set out to find out what differentiates an engaged employee from a disengaged employee. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Through their comprehensive research study they set out to answer questions like:

What do the most talented employees need from their workplace?

What do they need to thrive?

What do they need to stay engaged and to do their best work?

Through this research, Gallup has recognized 12 core elements — the Q12 — that link strongly to significant business outcomes. In the late 90s Gallup finalized their questioning and since then, it’s been administered to more than 25 million employees in 195 countries in 70 languages.

The interesting thing about the way Gallup crafted these questions is their ability to differentiate. The only items kept were those where the most engaged employees answered positively, and everyone else responded neutrally or negatively.

The extremes that the questions contain make it more difficult to answer with a “5” or “Strongly Agree.” In crafting these questions, Gallup used extremes on purpose to help distinguish between the most productive departments and the rest. If they had removed the extremes the questions would be weakened because it would have eliminated the variability of answers.

Gallup’s research shows that these 12 items can be used to measure the strength of a workplace. These items can capture the degree to which employees are getting their performance needs to be met. The 12 items Gallup identified are:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

I believe that the Q12 provides valuable information as we look to create an engaged culture in our own business or coach others to create an engaging culture in their business. Over the next few months, we will go through the questions to see how we can use the Q12 as a tool to create that culture. So some come along with us as we take this journey through the Gallup Q12. Not sure how to move forward on this challenge? Then schedule an Ask Brent Anything call and let’s talk strengths.

2 replies
  1. Mary Johnstun
    Mary Johnstun says:


    Good morning! I have a client that is wanting my social sciences research company to include the Q12 questions in their employee survey (among other questions). I’m working to assess whether Gallup’s copyright on the questions would allow the questions to be used in this fashion with proper attribution to Gallup, of course. You imply here that you seem to think the Q12 questions can be used if attributed. Am I interpretting this correctly?

    Best wishes,


    • brent
      brent says:

      Remember that Gallup owns the trademark on all Q12 questions and you will need to discuss with them on proper legal next steps.


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