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Survey Design Strategies: Understanding Retention in Your Organization

Survey Design Strategies: Understanding Retention in Your Organization

Since the beginning of 2023, stories of mass layoffs at companies like Twitter, Salesforce, Google, and Facebook have been overwhelming. Pundits argue that 2023 could be the year we fall into a recession and see a significant rise in unemployment. However, the labor market continued to show signs of resilience in June as employers added 209,000 jobs according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate in June was 3.6%, compared with 3.7% in May. While consumer confidence has increased slightly, McKinsey reports that spending hasn’t. These are mixed signals, and organizations need to separate signal from noise in terms of understanding retention and other HR issues.  

Against this uncertain economic backdrop, we've been working closely with customers to devise survey design strategies that help them comprehend and predict employee retention in their organizations. Comprehending retention necessitates asking the appropriate questions at the right moment via the right listening channels. 

Addressing Retention in Your Census Survey

Even at the most basic levels of listening maturity, organizations can begin asking important questions about retention in their annual census. The Engagement Index is one such fundamental aspect to consider. Organizations can also explore job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and perceptions of organizational support to create a more comprehensive understanding of employee sentiments.

Engagement Index and Retention Sentiments

Perceptyx's philosophy on engagement measures engagement with four items, which can be customized to align with your organization's specific needs. Research shows that highly engaged workplaces see up to 67% lower turnover and up to 21% higher overall profitability compared to those with low employee engagement. Including items that assess intent to leave, job satisfaction, and employees' perception of career growth opportunities can provide valuable insights into their likelihood of staying with the organization. 

Motivators to Stay and Leave (Retention Factors)

Asking employees what motivates them to stay or leave your organization provides preliminary evidence of the factors most critical for retention. This can also yield important information for creating an employee value proposition which aids in attracting talent. Organizations can inquire about factors such as work-life balance, compensation and benefits, opportunities for advancement, and satisfaction with managers. This information can then be used to tailor retention strategies and prioritize initiatives that resonate most with the workforce. Here’s an example of what this item set looks like:

Rate the impact each of the following factors has on your intent to stay. 

1 = Strongly Motivates Me to Leave; 2 = Somewhat Motivates Me to Leave; 3 = No Impact; 

4 = Somewhat Motivates Me to Stay; 5 = Strongly Motivates Me to Stay

  • My job/the work itself
  • My co-workers/team
  • My manager
  • Available career advancement opportunities
  • Available training and development opportunities
  • My compensation
  • Recognition/appreciation I receive
  • Ability to balance my work and personal life

Adding Follow-Up and Tiled Questions

Asking Likert items is an efficient way to gauge general employee sentiments. However, adding follow-up questions helps organizations further understand the specific reasons for sentiments. When employees say they don't feel valued (a frequent driver of engagement and retention) or they don’t intend to stay, asking a branched follow-up question to only those employees that responded negatively provides more detail for the organization to act on. Tiled questions, which are a series of related questions with similar response options, can also be used to uncover the underlying causes of employee dissatisfaction with the organization and highlight areas where improvements can be made. 

Here’s an example of a tiled item with branching logic:

Rate your level of agreement with the statement: “I feel valued as an employee.”

1 = Strongly Disagree; 2 = Disagree; 3 = Neutral; 4 = Agree; 5 = Strongly Agree

If rating = Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, ask “What would make you feel more valued” (Select all that apply)

  • Being asked for my input
  • Being listened to by my leaders
  • Growth and development opportunities
  • Knowing how my work matters
  • Recognition for a job well done

Demographic Data

Adding the right demographics to your HRIS data will help you identify segments of your workforce that are less engaged and more likely to experience turnover. Comparing current employee data with that of terminated employees can reveal patterns and inform your retention strategies. Consider incorporating information on factors such as age, gender, tenure, department, and job level. This will enable your organization to identify any specific demographic groups that may be at a higher risk of turnover and develop targeted retention initiatives to address their unique needs and preferences.

Addressing Retention Through Lifecycle Surveys

Lifecycle surveys cover all key milestones of the employee experience, from onboarding and career advancements to exiting. A previous Perceptyx study revealed that organizations that actively use listening strategies, including lifecycle surveys, are 7x more likely to retain employees. To proactively act on items that drive retention, it's essential to understand all aspects of the employee lifecycle. When listening at various milestones, ask key items or themes consistently across all surveys. This allows for a better understanding of when employee experiences change or need reaffirming. Monitoring themes like company direction, role clarity, and sense of belonging over the course of the employee lifecycle can help you predict when action is needed to improve the employee experience and ultimately increase retention.

Addressing Retention Through Follow-Up or Pulse Surveys

If your company aligns more with episodic listening, you can still predict retention. Adding questions about motivators to stay or leave can provide direct insight into an employee's intent to stay. Understanding what drives retention and identifying at-risk groups can help inform retention strategies. Comparing responses of employees who have voluntarily left the organization to those who remain can reveal key differences. A consistent item set allows for trend analysis and a deeper understanding of how retention motivators change over time.

Continuous listening strategies enable you to use all these key practices and gain a deeper understanding of the employee experience. If you know the themes or groups at risk for leaving based on direct feedback on motivators to stay or leave, you can isolate those areas and see at what point in the lifecycle things changed for them. Understanding when these factors become risks allows you to proactively act and change the employee experience, ultimately increasing retention.

Perceptyx Can Help You Better Understand Retention

Retention is a crucial aspect of maintaining a thriving organization. By employing various survey design strategies, such as addressing retention in census surveys, engagement index and retention sentiments, lifecycle surveys, and follow-up or pulse surveys, organizations can better understand and predict retention. These strategies provide valuable information to develop targeted and effective retention initiatives.

As an experienced listening partner, Perceptyx can assist you in developing and implementing survey strategies to better understand retention in your organization. We offer a free interactive assessment that measures your organization's level of listening maturity, providing valuable insights into your current approach. Schedule a meeting with a member of our team to learn more about how Perceptyx can support your retention efforts and help you create a thriving workplace.

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