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Employee Satisfaction Surveys and Their Role in Retention

Employee Satisfaction Surveys and Their Role in Retention

We’ve been hearing about the “Great Resignation” since April, but over the last several months, research has shed more light on what’s behind this troubling phenomenon. While COVID and compensation are certainly contributing factors, recent studies by McKinsey and Gallup reveal that much of this retention tension has a surprising source: poor company culture.

Here’s how regular employee satisfaction surveys can help you build company culture—and hold on to top talent.


Employers Can’t Fix What They Don’t Understand

With almost 6000 workers responding, the McKinsey study found that the top three reasons given by leaving employees were all problems of company culture:

  1. 54% said they didn’t feel valued by their companies
  2. 52% said they didn’t feel valued by their managers
  3. 51% said they didn’t feel a sense of belonging with coworkers

Wouldn’t it be great if employers could gain insight about these potential retention problems before their employees quit? 

At the most basic level, employers are in the business of managing people to collectively accomplish a task. But how can an employer effectively manage a workforce they don’t understand?

An instinct for understanding people can only go so far, and the larger the workforce, the less accurate that instinct will be. Simply put, instinct doesn’t scale well. 

You can’t just assume you know what employees think or feel and expect that assumption to guide decisions toward meaningful changes in company culture. Likewise, management training can prepare you for how to engage with employees, but it can’t fully explain why your particular employees are not engaged.

The best way to find out what’s on workers’ minds is surprisingly simple: ask them. 

That’s why employee satisfaction surveys can be such an insightful and useful retention tool. If you want your people to stay, you need to better understand why they might leave. 


Why Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys?

Regular employee surveys can help you keep your finger on the pulse of employee satisfaction.

However, if leadership is not committed to listening to and acting on workers’ concerns, a survey can backfire. The announcement and administration of a survey will likely raise expectations, but not following through on employee feedback can—ironically enough—lead to disappointment, diminished morale, and increased turnover.

With that in mind, surveys are not only good predictors of employee behavior; they’re also an excellent way to influence it. In other words, they can help you better understand satisfaction while increasing employee engagement and building your company culture at the same time.

Of course, surveys provide employees an opportunity to be heard, too. If workers feel heard—which, to be clear, is not the same as actually being heard—they’re more likely to feel valued by your organization. 

That feeling of being valued can be just as important for retention as actual compensation. And it only costs the company a commitment to collecting and acting on employee survey data. 

After all, company culture doesn’t cultivate itself. For better or worse, leadership shapes the working environment, and HR should assume the role of its caretaker in your organization—building, managing, and measuring culture. 

How you react to feedback will show workers their value and affect your bottom line. So, if you want to retain talent, simply ask, listen, and act.


Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with company culture and other important topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

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