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Why (and how) to use employee experience surveys

Most employees today expect an engaging and inspiring experience when they work for a company. They want to feel like they belong, and that they’re making an impact on something important. Organizations,  therefore, need to gather feedback and data to ensure that they are providing the experience that employees want. To do so, you should use an employee experience survey.

An employee experience survey is a series of questions that solicits and measures feedback on people’s experience at your company.

It surveys critical touchpoints in an employee’s lifecycle – from application through to leaving the company – and aims to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve that experience.

This article will teach you how to create an employee experience survey, and share sample questions that you can use. But first, let’s dig deeper into why you should use them.

Why should you use employee experience surveys?

There’s a lot of mixed data out there about how long employees stay with their chosen companies, and whether or not job hopping has ramped up significantly with younger generations of workers. The common consensus is “yes” on both fronts, but the reality is that it depends on the company, industry, and segment of the workforce.

What is true, however, is that employee experience and engagement play a big role in ensuring that your employees remain loyal to your organization. On top of that, external factors like strong competition for top talent and in-demand skills put a strain on companies hoping to retain employees long term.

Employee experience surveys are one surefire way to identify and address factors that may cause employee attrition.

Specifically, employee experience surveys:

  • Give you a picture of what attracts people to your organization, and what keeps them there
  • Help to identify factors, events, and shortcomings that lead people to leave your organization, or become disengaged
  • Help you understand the full employee lifecycle at your organization

In other words, employee experience surveys give you a view of how prospects, employees, and alumni view your company and allow you to plug any holes that may be a drain on your organization.

The rest of this article will show you how to identify those holes using employee experience surveys.

How to create an employee experience survey

Employee experience surveys are typically broken into individual question sets that target one specific part of the employee lifecycle.

To accomplish this, you should create dedicated experience surveys for each phase of the employee lifecycle. Specifically:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Work life
  • Exit

Let’s dig into each phase in more detail.

Recruitment

The goal of surveying prospects in the recruitment or exploration phase is to determine how candidates perceive your company based on their experiences with you. In other words: what led the candidate to want to engage with you, and how did that perception jive with reality when they did?

Feedback can be collected using micro-surveys at various touch points during the recruitment process. For example, after the application is submitted, after the first interview, after a job offer has been extended, or after a rejection notification has been sent. Or, you can send one survey at the end of the process, regardless of outcome.

Specific touchpoints that you should focus on include:

The goal with these surveys is to get feedback about each of these touchpoints that will help you incrementally improve the process and experience of applying for work at your company.

Onboarding

The next major touchpoint in an employee’s lifecycle is onboarding. This starts when a new hire accepts your job offer, and may continue into the first weeks, months, or even year on the job. Employee onboarding is critical to long term retention and productivity, and should be a focus of any employee experience survey.

In particular, onboarding should include:

  • Activities to get the employee up and running physically and mentally
  • Paperwork and policy sign offs
  • Setting up a physical workspace, and ensuring that all IT requirements are completed
  • Meeting with team members and learning about individual roles
  • Learning about the company and how it operates
  • Completing and receiving feedback on trial projects

Most companies will have a hybrid onboarding program that includes standard company-wide information, and role specific training.

Employee experience surveys at this stage should look to identify gaps in knowledge and training, and gather feedback on how useful these activities were to new hires in their individual roles.

Work life

Measuring daily work life is critical to ensuring that you have a handle on employee sentiment and trends that may be causing a drain on morale or productivity. Employee experience or engagement surveys are an excellent way to get people’s opinions and feedback on their lived experience with the company each day.

In particular, you should look to regularly measure employee sentiment around:

  • Feelings of support
  • Value and impact
  • Growth and learning opportunities
  • Confidence in management and leadership
  • Commitment to company vision
  • Positive and negative impressions of the company
  • Satisfaction in their current role
  • Satisfaction with their direct manager

To collect this information, you should use regular (i.e. weekly or biweekly) pulse checks that ask 2-3 short engagement or experience questions. Or, you could opt for longer form employee experience surveys on a quarterly or yearly basis.

Feedback from either tactic will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that exist within your workforce. This lets you quickly and deliberately address factors that may currently or eventually lead to attrition or decreased employee engagement (or both).

Regardless of which tactic you choose, it’s important to have a clear plan of attack in place, and to communicate the strategy and outcomes to your staff. This will make it clear that you take their feedback and experiences seriously, and are actively working to implement change if needed.

Exit

The last touch point a person will have with your organization is when they leave it.

Exit surveys have long been a strategy to capture feedback from departing employees, and with good reason. They allow you to understand why a person leaves your organization, identify common trends between multiple exits, and make necessary changes to reduce churn.

This phase of the employee experience survey is typically done on a one-to-one basis with a representative from HR. It should give the existing employee an opportunity to speak their mind and share feedback with honesty. While the feedback may be tough to hear at times, it’s critical to ensuring that you make the right changes to improve your workplace and experience for your remaining employees.

Putting it all together

Once you’ve understood each stage of the employee lifecycle, the next step is to create your employee experience strategy.

Typically, these steps will include:

  • Determining your priorities for each stage of the employee lifecycle
  • Communicating the survey strategy to encourage participation from staff
  • Capturing data using employee engagement surveys at each stage
  • Leveraging analytics and survey tools to find and analyze data trends
  • Assigning a team to review and analyze quantitative feedback
  • Empowering your survey team to take action on the results
  • Communicating survey results and changes to employees

One critical element missing from the list above is the employee experience survey questions that you’ll use to solicit useful feedback.

25 sample employee experience survey questions

The following list of questions has been split between each phase of the employee lifecycle listed earlier in the article. The goal is to demonstrate the types of questions – and wording – you should use to get the most useful and accurate results.

Before we jump into the employee lifecycle phases, let’s talk about how to use the Employee Net Promoter Score.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

The eNPS was built around the concept of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that is used to measure customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend a product or service.

Pointed at employees, this concept is a strong indicator of employee loyalty, and can be used to effectively measure aggregate sentiment and experience.

Consider adding this question at the start of all employee experience survey questions:

 

“On a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our organization to your family or friends?”

 

You should be looking to score an aggregate eNPS of 9-10 from regular surveys. If it’s lower than this, then there’s likely some work to do. The rest of these questions will help drill down to where you should focus your attention.

Recruitment phase

Questions at this phase should be short and easy to answer. Clearly communicate why you are asking them, and give the option to skip if the candidate is not comfortable.

Use a combination of scaled and open-ended questions to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback. For the sake of this article, scaled questions refer to possible answers ranging from 1 – strongly disagree to 5- strongly agree. Open-ended questions allow respondents to add their own words.

Sample recruitment questions include:

 

It was easy to find all relevant information about this position. (1-5 scale)

The recruiter was friendly, professional, and courteous (1-5 scale)

All of my questions were answered in a timely manner. (1-5 scale)

Overall, how satisfied were you with the recruitment process? Why? (Open ended)

How can we improve our hiring process? (Open ended)

 

These questions can be automatically triggered at the end of an application, or can be delivered manually or via automated email from your ATS after a decision has been made on a candidate.

Onboarding phase

Questions in this phase can be asked to new hires after one day, one week, one month, and six months into their tenure at the company.

Sample questions include:

 

I am feeling welcome at the company. (1-5 scale) 

I am feeling productive. (1-5 scale)

I have all of the tools and information needed to do my job. (1-5 scale)

What is one thing that we could have done differently to improve your onboarding experience. (Open ended)

 

The goal with these questions  is to gather immediate feedback from the employee, and to show the progression and success of the onboarding process.

Work life phase

Questions that survey daily work life can be incorporated into regular pulse surveys, or longform surveys and quarterly or yearly intervals.

For pulse surveys, you should opt for scaled or yes/no questions that can be answered quickly. Longform surveys should contain a combination of questions that generate different types of data and feedback.

Sample questions include:

 

I rarely think about looking for another job. (Y/N)

I see myself working here in two years. (Y/N)

Leadership keeps people informed about what is happening. (1-5 scale)

My manager is a great role model for employees. (1-5 scale)

Do you have what you need to do your job well? (Y/N)

I receive recognition when I do good work. (1-5 scale)

I believe there are good career opportunities for me at this company. (1-5 scale)

What can we do to make your daily life better at this company? (Open ended)

 

Because work life phase questions are directly tied to your employees’ livelihoods, it’s recommended that you make these surveys anonymous. This will give your employees confidence that their feedback will not come back to harm them professionally, and will elicit more candid responses.

Exit phase

Exit phase questions should be asked by an HR representative when each candidate leaves. The goal is to get a handle of any contributing factor that led to their decision, and to assess whether or not there are attrition trends that need to be addressed.

Sample questions include:

 

Why are you leaving?

What does your new position offer that influenced your decision to leave?

What could we have done better?

Is there anything we can do to keep you here?

Did you feel like a valuable part of the company?

What qualities should we look for in your replacement?

How do you think we could improve the overall employee experience? 

 

If there’s one prevailing theme of this article it’s this: you cannot improve or fix what you’re not aware of. Employee experience surveys are designed to make your organization aware of its strengths and shortcomings, giving you the data you need to transform yourself into a truly desirable place to work.

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