7 Questions to Ask Your Employees to Boost Retention

7 Questions to Ask Your Employees to Boost Retention

Do you have the sneaking suspicion that something needs to be done to boost your employee retention rates? If you’re going through a period in which it seems that more of your people are handing in their notice than ever before, it’s time to sit up and take action.

Employee turnover is costly and time consuming to deal with and it has a negative effect on your remaining staff and your company’s reputation.

Of course there are any number of reasons why people quit: it may be purely personal - or it could be down to your company, or your managers. In fact, research has shown that more than half of employees who leave a company say there would have been something that either the organisation, or their manager, could have done to stop them from going.

That’s huge!

woman looking at her laptop with a shocked expression

So how can you spot a potential quitter and get them back firmly on the side of the team? Well, as the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Yes, we’re talking about getting feedback from your employees to increase retention and engagement.

Read more: 5 Ways to Collect Feedback & Increase Employee Retention

But here’s the thing: what questions should you be asking them to find out whether or not you have an employee who’s thinking about throwing in the towel on your hands?

pair of scissors and cut out paper letters spelling out 'goodbye'.

7 questions to ask your employees to boost retention

To get meaningful feedback, you need a structured survey program so that you gain insight into all areas of your business. To really find out what’s going on in your workforces’ heads, you need more than the occasional water cooler chat with random people.

You may want to send out employee surveys once a year, every six months, or even quarterly.

But what are the questions to ask that will help you really understand how your employees are really feeling?

a sign in a window saying be curious.

Here are 7 questions that you could consider including in your organisation’s employee survey.

1. Do you see opportunities for career progression and personal growth here?

Sure, some people are happy just to tick along and not progress in their careers. The ones that clock in and clock out on the dot.

But the majority of employees like to feel engaged and motivated at work. If they’re not seeing opportunities for advancement within your company, chances are they’ll hand their notice in as soon as they find a position in an organisation that does.

lightbox sign saying 'time for change'.

If you’re getting negative responses here, this is the ideal time to introduce career mapping to your company. A quick Google will result in any number of career mapping tools, software solutions and worksheets - and the best part is, you can ask your employees to map their own career path meaning that this doesn’t have to be a huge time suck for HR!

Read more: The Link Between Stay Interviews & Employee Retention

2. How likely are you to recommend working here to a friend?

This is a question that’s best graded on a scale of one to ten. Ask your employee to pick a number and then ask them why they felt that was the most apt score.

a blank notebook and pair of glasses surrounded by numbers.

As a general rule of thumb, anyone who gives your company a score lower than six is - clearly - not happy at work. They could be at risk of leaving. And just as worryingly, they could be actively harming your company’s reputation by bad mouthing you to friends, family, acquaintances or even suppliers and clients.

Those who score you a seven or eight are ‘fine’. They’re probably not actively looking for work elsewhere or trashing your brand to all and sundry but their engagement could be lacking.

In an ideal world, every employee will answer nine or ten, but if you’re not hitting those top marks you need to be asking people why they’ve scored you the way they did - and what you can do to improve.

graffiti of a non-smiling face and the words 'what now?'

Read more: Don't Go! Retention Strategies to Increase Employee Loyalty

3. Do you feel like your efforts are recognised by your manager?

Employees who feel (whether fairly or not) that their work is not appreciated or recognised by their superiors are more likely to resign than those who feel valued. After all, no one turns up to work for the fun of it, and a word of thanks or a nod of recognition can go a long way to creating a more positive and engaging environment.

If your employee surveys are showing a negative response to this question you need to take a look at your company culture and your employee recognition programme.

A good place to start delving a little deeper into your organisation’s habit of recognising work well done is with yourself. Take a step back and look at the way your manager behaves in this area. Do they ever thank you for your hard work or do your efforts go seemingly unrecognised?

typewriter with piece of paper in the roller with the word 'thank you' in different languages on it.

If there’s not a lot of positive praise going around at work, you need to either implement an employee recognition program or give your existing one a shot in the arm and make sure it’s being used.

Read more: How to Increase Your Retention Rates Through Employee Recognition

4. Do you feel that your salary is fair?

It stands to reason that employees who don’t feel like they’re being paid a fair wage, aren’t going to stick around for long. It also means they’re less likely to be invested in the work they do, leading to disengagement and poor performance.

Ask your people if they feel their salary is competitive within your industry and in relation to their peers. And question whether they honestly feel that they are being paid a fair rate in relation to their contribution to the business.

person sitting at a desk and counting bank notes.

If you’re getting negative reactions to this question it’s probably time to sit down with the company owners or directors and see if there’s anything that can be done to bring your organisation’s pay more inline with similar companies in your area.

5. How would you describe the relationship you have with your manager?

Managers, supervisors, and team leaders can all affect an employee’s relationship with the company. After all, most of us have worked for someone who we might not have been the fondest of at some point in our careers - and you know what a negative slant that can put on getting up in the morning and going to work.

Indeed, most of us know someone who has handed their notice in because they had a poor relationship with their manager. Therefore, nurturing good dynamics between managers and employees is key.

two women in business attire standing together in an office and smiling.

Of course, it would be naïve to think that every single one of your employees is going to love working for their manager but if you’re seeing a pattern of discontent with certain managers it might be time to take a closer look at their department.

For example, does the problem seem to be unclear goal setting? A lack of encouragement? Poor recognition? It may be that some teams need a little more structure in place, such as the aforementioned career mapping, to bring inter-departmental relationships up to scratch.

Read more: 6 Ways to Show Your Employees a Little Love

6. What’s your favourite thing about working here?

This question is a good way of gaining insight into which aspects of your company, your culture, your policies and your programmes are working. Knowing what is impactful and appreciated by employees will help you develop your HR practices in the right direction.

neon sign saying 'go up and never stop'.

7. What’s your least favourite thing about working here?

Not the easiest question to ask - but an important one nonetheless. Ask for constructive feedback from your people and use their answers, where valid and feasible, to improve on areas of concern.

Asking questions to boost employee retention: conclusion

Of course, each organisation is different and you’ll want to tailor your survey questions to your specific industry and workplace. For example, if you’re a charitable organisation or non-profit, you may want to swap out the question about salary for one that talks about your mission and values instead.

You may also want to add in questions about diversity and inclusivity. But whatever you ask, the key is to make sure you are asking questions that will elicit meaningful feedback that you can actually use.

sign on a window saying 'your ideas matter'.

The last thing you want to do is to look as if you’re merely paying lip service to feedback as this will only alienate disenchanted employees further.

And that’s going to have the opposite of the desired effect on your employee retention rates!

Eve Jones
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Sydney, Australia