How to Reduce Turnover With an Employee Retention Survey: Tips & Sample Survey Questions
Structuring an employee retention survey that asks the right questions to get honest responses is serious business.
As people who connect companies to their employees daily, we know the value of keeping your best employees and avoiding preventable turnover.
But first— why is getting an honest response from your employees so important?
Employees quit their jobs for many reasons, but the universal reason is this: they quit when you fail to solve their workplace problems.
Good employee retention survey questions extract, investigate and help solve these problems. They allow you to improve your process instead of waiting for your employees to voice their concerns in an exit interview.
This guide will:
- Tell you how to create an employee retention survey that works.
- Give you sample questions that you can directly insert into your survey.
- Show you to use your survey data.
📋 What is an employee retention survey?
An employee retention survey is a tool that organizations use to gather feedback from their employees on factors that influence their decision to stay with the company.
The type of feedback survey is designed to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the organization's employee retention efforts.
The answers let you in on their perspective and help improve your employee's work experience. It is a tool you can use to identify:
- What makes employees stay with the company.
- Issues that cause high turnover rates.
- Which policies or practices are most effective in retaining employees.
- Insights into employee morale and job satisfaction.
🏆 Why use an employee retention survey?
A survey for employee retention may seem completely optional. They're time-consuming to make and distribute, so you may consider skipping out on them entirely.
Here's why that's a bad idea.
Predict employee turnover and attrition
You could stay ahead of turnover trends by asking your employees very specific questions in your employee retention survey,
For example, if the answer to "When was the last time you got a promotion?" is "A very long time ago" for a large percentage of the survey pool– you have a problem.
Employees who feel a promotion is long overdue are more likely to leave, leading to an increased rate of voluntary attrition.
The survey can make it possible for you to re-evaluate job positions in the company and see if employees feel undeservingly stuck at their posts for too long.
You can also investigate involuntary attrition with your employee retention survey.
Ask existing and departing employees whether they think you are firing more people more often or if certain job positions are disappearing unexpectedly. In this way, you can discover how employees feel about the job security in your company.
Tip: If your employees perceive a firing spree, they might already be searching for another job for fear of being next in line.
A survey allows you to spot these problems to formulate successful employee retention strategies.
Offer insights for creating retention strategies
The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary. To dodge these turnover costs, you must understand why employees leave.
There are three reasons employees leave:
- Low benefits and poor pay;
- Lack of growth and training opportunities;
- Bad work environment.
By identifying problems in these three areas, employee retention survey research can decrease turnover.
Tip #1: Get proactive with career development. Don't wait until your best employees leave to discover that they were yearning for more from their workplace.
Tip #2: Use an employee development software like Zavvy to manage your people's development plans. Zavvy makes tracking your employee's learning and development easy. So you will monitor whether your training initiatives are fruitful and which formats are most appealing to employees.
Improve employer branding
An employee survey can uncover skill gaps and reveal opportunities for internal promotions.
If you specifically focus on boosting employee engagement, your business will be known as a proactive one that takes care of its employees.
This kind of branding strategy will make it easier to hire in the future, increase retention and even resonate with customers who value ethical businesses.
Tip: By giving your employees a voice and newfound motivation, you are not only mitigating retention problems. You are also creating a brand that everybody will want to be in business with.
🔍 3 Types of employee retention surveys that HR can use
What is your most urgent problem? Is it engagement? High turnover?
Choose your ideal combination of employee retention surveys based on your strategic goals.
Employee pulse survey
Employee pulse surveys gauge employee concerns about their jobs, their co-workers, and their company as a whole.
A pulse survey will help you helps businesses identify how they can improve the employee experience, such as in areas like:
- Job security.
Employee pulse surveys can be an effective all-in-one questionnaire that saves you the trouble of having to frame multiple surveys.
Employee culture survey
Culture surveys can help to identify management problems and understand if the company culture is the root cause of high employee turnover rates.
Tip: Employees are happier when the company culture focuses on balance, not pure hustle.
➡️ Draw inspiration from 7 examples of outstanding company culture.
Employee engagement survey
These measure factors such as:
- Job satisfaction;
- Commitment to the organization;
Tip #1: Gather employee feedback and identify potential problems early on.
Tip #2: Toss in a few open-ended questions in your employee engagement survey to let your employees be descriptive about their challenges.
You can use an exit interview to collect feedback about why employees are leaving.
Tip #1: You can add questions to determine how they felt about your company's development, promotion, and management.
Tip #2: Use the data from the exit surveys to improve the working environment and prevent future employees from leaving.
👀 Pros and cons of employee retention surveys
You can prevent 75% of employee turnover. Framing an intelligent survey on employee retention is the first step. But sending out a survey is not a magical solution to your retention issues.
Saving time and money
Employee retention surveys help you identify what you could do better as a company, especially with quick, summarized reports with a tool like Zavvy. These reports help save the time and money that go into rehiring and also avoid the dip in productivity during a new hire's learning curve.
These surveys also help you locate gaps in training so you know which employee skills to work on in the long run.
Employee retention surveys are the easiest way to give your employees a voice and an outlet for concerns. Think of it as customer support for your employees. How frustrated would your customers be if they didn't have a helpline or somebody to reach out to about their problems?
Anonymous employee retention surveys empower employees, as they get to voice their problems without worrying about being confronted.
Backing-up employee-friendly policies after feedback
The best way to stay ahead of potential problems in the workplace is to conduct employee retention surveys regularly.
By asking both termed and remaining employees for their feedback on various aspects of their job, you can get a sense of what might be causing some to leave and some to stay.
Additionally, employees are often the first to notice something going wrong, so their feedback can help you identify issues before they become major problems.
Only helping with existing policies
Employees can only provide feedback on existing policies, not newer ones the company might want to implement, which can limit the usefulness of the survey results and prevent companies from progressing rapidly.
Difficult to analyze large pools of data
Making decisions based on conflicting data can be difficult, which can happen if the company has many employees with differing inputs.
It is also challenging to choose which trend to focus on if all demand a different course of action. Additionally, many employees may simply choose not to participate in the survey, which can skew the results.
Mishandled results may risk work relations
Many employees may not be willing to provide honest feedback for fear of retaliation. As a result, employee retention surveys may not always paint an accurate picture of the workplace.
True to their fears, mishandled surveys can damage work relationships.
For example, if managers find out who has complained about them, they could be negatively biased toward that employee.
💡 How to implement employee retention surveys
To get the most out of your employee retention surveys, prioritize these three strategies:
- Ask the right questions.
- Stick to anonymity.
- Administer surveys regularly.
Ask the right questions
Ask short, specific, and direct questions that are easy to answer.
Surveys commonly use Likert scales instead of open-ended questions to make them even easier to answer.
Tip: Don't suggest any answers, as this can bias the results.
Stick to anonymity
Surveys have to be anonymous to encourage honesty and prevent retaliation.
Tip: You need to assure employees that their responses will be confidential and not be used to target or punish them unfairly.
Administer surveys regularly
Regular surveys make it easy to compare results and identify trends over time.
We'll tell you how to do this quicker with automated survey distributions and summarized reports from Zavvy later in the article.
Tip: Stay in touch with your employees by collecting their feedback with retention surveys, especially in situations of ongoing change management.
❓ 49 Sample employee retention survey questions
Need inspiration or an easy employee retention survey template? Take a look at our sample of employee retention survey questions.
Commitment questions usually take the form of "yes or no" questions. For example: "Are you planning on leaving the company within the next year?" or "Do you feel like you have a good work-life balance?"
By asking about employee satisfaction and their future plans, companies can get a better understanding of:
- how likely is it that an employee will stay with the company and
- what factors may be influencing their decision.
- How satisfied are you with your current position in the company?
- Do you feel your skills are being utilized effectively in your current role?
- Do you feel like the company's values align with your personal values?
- Do you feel like you can be yourself around your managers and teammates?
- Do you feel like you belong in this company?
- Are there any specific aspects of the job that you find particularly frustrating or difficult?
- What do you like most about working here?
- Would you recommend the company to others as a great workplace?
- Do you feel like you have a good work/life balance?
- How likely are you to stay with the company for the next year?
- Have you interviewed for another job in the last three months?
- What would the main reason be if you were to accept a job opportunity at another company?
- What changes would make you sure about staying in this company?
Professional Development Questions
These questions can help identify whether employees feel like they have opportunities to grow and develop in their roles. They can also reveal whether employees are satisfied with management's support for exploring potential career paths.
- How satisfied are you with your current job?
- Do you feel like you have the opportunity to grow and develop within this organization?
- Do you have a clear understanding of your career path and promotion opportunities?
- Do you have a concrete growth plan?
- Have you and your manager set expectations and set an action plan for your progress in the company?
- Do you feel you're working toward the next step in your career?
- Have you received any training opportunities within the last six months?
- If yes, did the training opportunities contribute to achieving your career goals?
- Which employee development programs would you like to see in the future (conference reimbursement, job shadowing, leadership coaching, mentoring)?
By asking employees about their recent successes, you can get a better sense of whether they are likely to stick around.
- Would you apply to this position if you had to do it all over again?
- How satisfied are you with your daily tasks?
- When was the last time you felt proud about something you achieved at work?
- What would you consider to be the most exciting aspect of your role?
- Did you receive any opportunities to develop your skills in the last year?
- Is there anything preventing you from doing your best work?
- How motivated are you to do your best work?
- Do you believe your work is meaningful and makes a positive impact?
- How engaged are you with your work? (i.e. do you find it challenging and interesting?)
- How engaged are you with your team?
- How often are you recognized at work?
- Do you feel like you are receiving enough recognition?
- Who would you like to receive more recognition from (i.e. your manager, peers, company leadership, customers)?
- What could this organization do to further improve your job satisfaction?
Management & Leadership Questions
Good management is the first step to helping employees feel like they belong at work. By asking questions about communication style, decision-making, and supportiveness, companies can better understand whether their managers are helping to create a positive work environment.
- How would you describe your relationship with your manager?
- How valued do you feel by your employer?
- How supported do you feel by your manager?
- Do you feel you can bring up problems to your manager? And if so, do you trust that your manager will address them?
- How does your manager support you and your team in accomplishing your tasks?
- Are you satisfied with your manager's acknowledgement of your work efforts?
- Do your managers give feedback on your work regularly?
- How would you rate the company's overall management/leadership?
According to David Aylor, CEO of David Aylor Law Offices,
"You want to know how employees compare your company to competitors. If they feel competitors are offering better benefits and pay, you risk losing them to a better offer."
By gauging employees' perceptions of their pay, employers can better understand their compensation packages' competitiveness.
- Do you feel like you are paid fairly for the work you do?
- Do you feel you are compensated fairly compared to your peers?
- Does your compensation package motivate you to stay with the company?
- Would you take a new job at another company if they offered you the same compensation package you have now?
- Are you satisfied with your current salary and bonuses?
- Would you recommend the company's benefits and compensation package to others?
📊 How to use your employee retention survey data
Your employee satisfaction survey results are in, and it's time to take action.
Making changes based on survey results shows employees that you're committed to improving their work experience.
Put your employee retention survey data to good use in the following ways:
Segment your data
Even if your survey data shows positive results overall, it's too soon to celebrate. Separate the data according to:
- department &
- time spent with your company
To see if some groups have higher favorability than others.
For example, the results may show that employees in the sales department are less satisfied with their job than employees in other departments. This result can be due to the high pressure and intense competition in the sales industry.
However, this may also have something to do with management. Either way, differences in satisfaction levels across departments need an intervention.
Tip #1: Start by brainstorming ways to decrease work pressure end ensure department leadership alignment
Tip #2: If you see that employees who have been with the company for longer are more satisfied with their job than newer employees, you need to work on your new hire engagement strategy.
Tip #3: Ensure new hires feel more included and welcome by creating fun onboarding activities.
➡️ Find inspiration in our list of 17 exciting ideas to make employee onboarding fun.
Compare data between remaining and departing employees
Surveying those who have left and those who remain with your company can help you compare the favourability of the two groups and identify potential areas of improvement.
Employees who leave may be more likely to give honest feedback about their experience.
Tip: By surveying both groups, you can get a well-rounded picture of what needs improving.
For example, suppose departing employees report lower satisfaction with their supervisors than those who remain. In that case, this could suggest that poor management is a leading cause of turnover.
Alternatively, suppose departing employees express greater interest in advancement opportunities than those who stay. In this case, you can conclude that a lack of development opportunities is causing talented employees to seek new challenges elsewhere.
Identify problems with neutral or indecisive answers
In an employee retention survey, the "somewhat agree" and "somewhat disagree" responses show uncertainty. This means that the employees are not fully satisfied with the company policy or are unsure about company procedures.
Brad Hall, CEO of SONU Sleep, says,
"Ask your employees what they've learned so far in their position and what they hope to learn throughout their job. If either of those answers is lackluster, it's time for a shift."
It is important to look at how many people choose these options to gauge the level of dissatisfaction among employees.
Tip: An answer like "Somewhat agree" to a question like "Are you happy with your supervisor?" is not a complete no. So it may be easier to work on that area first.
Use your data to form policies for different demographics
When it comes to employee retention, it's essential to understand how different generations respond to your questions. This could mean that you need different strategies for addressing each generation's concerns.
For example, older workers may be more likely to stay with a company that offers good benefits and job security. In comparison, younger workers may be more attracted to a company that offers flexible work hours (75% of millennial workers want this) and a creative work environment.
By understanding the needs of both groups, you can develop a retention strategy that appeals to all employees.
Create an action plan with your data
Use your data and apply it to this 3 step action plan.
1. Bring leadership on board
Brief managers and supervisors on the findings of the survey without pointing fingers.
Jeff Mains, CEO of Champion Leadership Group LLC, says,
"As much as you want to be involved in your company, managers and leaders are truly the ones on the ground. Managers and supervisors must understand what contributes to employee retention since they are in the greatest position to maintain staff retention rates."
Managers need to be aware of the issues causing employees to leave. Then, they take steps to address them, even if that means acknowledging that themselves can be the root causes of employee challenges or concerns.
2. Focus on employee development
Review and improve training programs to help employees develop their skills and grow within the organization.
Tip #1: Stay ahead of learning trends and innovative learning methods.
Tip #2: Start thinking about learning in the flow of work to keep your employees engaged and create a culture of learning at your workplace.
3. Keep an eye on benefits
Examine the benefits you offer to match what your employees want.
Alex Uriarte, a personal injury attorney, says:
"The benefit of keeping essential staff around significantly surpasses the cost of paying that small amount more of the annual budget to keep them around, even if it seems unnecessary to some organizations."
Readminister the survey
By re-administering the survey regularly, you can track progress and ensure that your retention efforts align with changing priorities (economy, the job market, and changing employee needs).
➡️ Improve your employee retention with Zavvy
You know why an employee retention survey is essential, what to ask and how to use your data.
What's left is figuring out how to distribute your survey and organize the results– something we can all agree is a tiresome process.
Zavvy is an employee enablement tool helping companies and employees grow and achieve success.
With Zavvy, you will distribute surveys and gather results almost automatically. It can help you design digital surveys that can be completed within a minute– motivating more employees to open and answer the ones you need.
What good is a great survey if it goes unopened?
To add to this, Zavvy gathers and prepares reports that summarize the results of your survey too. This makes it easy for you to take quick action based on employee feedback and immediately start enforcing your retention strategies.
Develop and retain your best people with Zavvy. Get in touch with us now for a free demo!