Employee Retention Surveys [2022 Complete Guide]

Tai
August 19, 2021
5 Min Read
Photo by
Titus Smith

Table of Contents:

What are employee retention surveys?

An employee retention survey is a management practice used to determine what employees like and dislike about their jobs. The goal of employee retention surveys, either online or paper-based, is to identify patterns among worker attitudes in order to improve the quality of the workforce.

Employee retention surveys should be given out on a regular basis (e.g., every six months) in order to monitor employee satisfaction levels over time. Employers use employee retention surveys as benchmarks for future employee engagement efforts; this allows businesses to keep track of how well they are doing in terms of making their employees happy and fulfilled within their work environment.

Pros and cons of employee retention surveys

There are both advantages and disadvantages to employee retention surveys. The main advantage of these surveys is that they are a proactive way to keep employee morale high and employee turnover rates low. Asking employees about their thoughts on the job, company culture, management style, etc., allows employers to adjust policies or take other actions in order to reduce issues; failing to ask can lead them to remain unaware of what needs changing until it's too late (e.g., an employee has already jumped ship).

As far as disadvantages go, employee retention surveys can be time-consuming to conduct and analyze, especially if they are given on a regular basis like monthly or quarterly. It takes time to read through employee comments, sift out what's important from what's not, and decide how best to address the issues. In addition, employee retention surveys also have a lower response rate than other employee engagement initiatives (e.g., employee satisfaction meetings); employees may view them as invasive.

Strategies for employee retention surveys

In order to keep employee morale high and employee turnover rates low, businesses should consider using employee retention surveys in their employee retention strategy. A retention survey is essentially an employee engagement survey or pulse survey with questions focused on the employee experience, job satisfaction and the employee perception of their role. There are several strategies that companies can use when creating an employee survey:

  • Keep the survey short: Aim for five questions at most; employee retention surveys should not be used to track employee behavior or document employee performance.
  • Ask employees specific questions: Employees are more likely to answer satisfaction surveys honestly if they know exactly what to expect. For example, asking a worker "Do you feel that your job is meaningful?" is much less effective than asking them "How many hours do you spend doing work that you believe has a purpose in the company?"
  • Make sure questions are unbiased: Questions about feeling valued by management, having input into decisions affecting the workplace, and opportunities for career advancement make for better employee retention survey questions when phrased in positive rather than negative language (e.g., "I feel appreciated by my manager" vs. "My manager does not appreciate me"). Positive statements paint a much more accurate picture of employee sentiment than negative ones do.
  • Ask employees to give employee retention surveys anonymously: This way, employees will have the confidence they need to answer each survey question honestly without fear of being singled out for bad feedback. It also means that employers can't tell which employee submitted each response, so as not to put undue pressure on those who may be afraid to speak up.
  • Implement employee retention surveys as a regular part of employee evaluation: The only way employee retention surveys will yield useful data is if they are given consistently and frequently. Managers should take employee retention surveys every six months or so, perhaps coinciding with a routine performance review process. An employer might also consider creating a system where employee feedback automatically triggers a change in employee evaluation categories or salary adjustment based on the results of employee retention surveys. A departing employee should also always be given an exit survey.

More employee retention survey ideas

Employee retention surveys can be used in a number of different ways: to address employee concerns and make changes where necessary; to identify trends in employee morale, and to track employee feedback over time. Employers should consider which employee retention survey idea will work best for their company when beginning employee engagement initiatives like these:

  • Rank the least favorite parts of your job (e.g., "I hate commuting," "My boss micromanages me," "My benefits only cover part of my premiums") or ask employees what they would change if they were in charge (e.g., eliminate monthly employee evaluation meetings, increase benefits).
  • Assign each employee a number and ask them to state it publicly if they feel appreciated by management and colleagues. This is a great employee retention survey idea for larger organizations with multiple branches or teams, since it's anonymous and provides employees with the opportunity to anonymously express their feelings toward their workplace. Employee recognition is important and without it you are likely to have high employee turnover.
  • Ask employees about any fears they have about work (e.g., "I worry I won't make enough money this year") or how optimistic they are about the future of the organization (e.g., "Our company has plenty of opportunities for advancement"). Acknowledge employee concerns and reassure them by offering examples of solutions that could potentially improve the employee experience over time.

Employee retention surveys are great employee engagement tools because they're quick and easy for employees to fill out, anonymous so employees feel comfortable expressing honest feedback, and can be used alongside regular employee evaluations or performance reviews to give managers concrete data on which to act. That means an employee retention survey is always better than no employee engagement initiative at all.

Alternatives to using employee retention surveys might include having regular meetings with individual teams to discuss how they feel about the direction the company is going or using employee appreciation software like Matter to make employee feedback part of everyday life.

Employee retention survey software 

Sometimes the best employee retention survey ideas don't come from your own brain! If you want additional employee engagement ideas that have been tried and tested by other employers already, consider using employee retention software like BambooHR's Employee Retention Survey. This will help ensure you cover important questions in employee retention surveys, and means you don't have to worry about which employee retention survey idea will best allow you to track employee sentiment over time.

Employee retention survey software is also useful because it makes both giving and getting the survey quick and almost automatic. Answering five questions on paper might take five minutes; answering five questions on the computer or a phone shouldn't take more than one. Once employee retention surveys are completed, employee retention software can summarize the results into a clear report for managers who need to take action based on employee feedback.

Use employee retention surveys as a springboard for brainstorming how you can improve your workplace: Once managers have employee retention surveys from their employees to look at, they should take some time alone or with other managers to interpret them and try to figure out what potential solutions could be proposed. For example, an employee satisfaction survey might reveal that many employees feel like they don't get enough opportunities to advance with the company; brainstorming ways in which this could be addressed would make up part of your employee engagement strategy moving forward.

Employee retention surveys are a great way to gather anonymous feedback from employees when considering what changes should be made in order to ensure a better workplace for all involved. Employee retention surveys give a voice to employees who might not feel comfortable speaking up in front of their managers, and provide valuable insight into employee sentiment about their job overall.

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