This Survey Hack Will Forever Change Your Employee Retention Strategies

employee retention strategies

We all know the research shows improving employee engagement and improving employee retention go hand in hand. But is your employee survey actually connecting the dots?

This simple survey hack is helping our clients create customized retention strategies and simultaneously showing leadership the ROI of engaging employees.

What’s the secret? Connecting your turnover data to your engagement data.


Uncover the top 5 reasons employees leave:  Download our latest research on Employee Turnover.


Step 1: Connect Your Turnover Data to Your Employee Survey Data

First, you must be able to link an employee’s engagement survey data to his or her exit survey. Why will this link revolutionize your employee retention strategies? We'll get to that in a minute.

But first, we must warn you: employee confidentiality CANNOT be sacrificed. If someone in HR is matching engagement data to exit data, the confidentiality you promised employees is compromised. (And your employee retention strategies won't make a lick of difference.) Instead, have your survey partner match the data sets.


Step 2: Pinpoint Items Related to Turnover

Once the data is connected, you can identify the survey items that most strongly differ between your termed and non-termed employees. What should you look for?

Start by examining the biggest differences in overall favorability. (e.g. Remaining employees were 86% favorable on the item, "If I contribute to the organization's success, I know I will be recognized," while termed employees were only 50% favorable. A 36-percentage point difference in favorability is a BIG deal.)

Then, see if termed employees had high levels of uncertainty (where they said "somewhat agree" or "somewhat disagree") on particular items. Uncertainty leads to turnover — when employees aren't sure if you value their contributions, they're more likely to find a company that does.


Step 3: Take a Deeper Look at Different Populations

Retention opportunities may differ from population to population. Take your analysis one step deeper by analyzing engagement and exit data by employee demographics.

For example, the biggest gaps in favorability among termed and remaining millennials might be around employee development and career growth, while the difference in favorability between termed and remaining baby boomers in the same category was almost non-existent. That tells you that career pathing might be a more effective employee retention strategy for millennials than baby boomers.

By analyzing your engagement and exit data among different demographics, you'll be able to implement tailored employee engagement strategies that actually work.


Step 4: Educate Leaders, Managers, and Supervisors

As much as HR likes to be involved in organizational engagement, managers and supervisors are really the ones on the front line. They often feel the pain and costs of turnover – time spent reworking schedules, managing around under staffing, and training new employees.

It is essential that managers and supervisors understand what drives retention because they are in the best position to better retain employees. Share any turnover trends you uncover with your team leaders and ask that they help you develop employee retention strategies.


Step 5: Customize Your Employee Retention Strategies

You understand the problems, you’ve equipped your troops, now it’s time to fight turnover. Put your employee retention strategies into place, and make clear that these initiatives are the result of engagement data, exit surveys, employee input, and manager effort; this demonstrates that your organization listens to and values the employee voice — that's an employee retention strategy in itself!


Step 6: Determine If Your Retention Strategies Worked

In order to determine if your initiatives were successful, track related metrics for trending. This is where we close the loop: next time you administer the engagement or exit survey, look for improvements. First and foremost, has turnover decreased? Is overall turnover rate down? 

Next, did the favorability gaps you identified (and created employee retention strategies to address) in Step 2 and Step 3 shrink? Did the favorability of termed and remaining employees increase on the categories where you created plans? Did turnover decrease among different demographics?



There ya have it — the survey hack that will forever change your employee retention strategies! A constant cycling through these six steps will ensure that your organization is always making efforts toward better employee retention.

New Research! Top 5 Predictors of Employee Turnover