The best types of employee experience surveys to use

Employee experience surveys are a vital part of measuring the employee experience so this post outlines the different types of employee experience surveys.

The term ‘employee experience‘ has emerged in the last few years as we have started to learn more from marketing people who talk about the ‘customer experience‘. The principle behind customer experience is that where customers feel valued and enjoy the experience of buying from a company they will obviously buy more, be more loyal to the company and also recommend it to other people.

This is exactly the same when thinking about employees – where employees have a better experience of working for their company they will be more engaged, work harder, be off sick less, be more loyal, stay for longer and also recommend the company as a good place to work.

Employee experience surveys should be a central part of your employee experience strategy

The employee experience starts the moment people see the job advert and ends when they ultimately leave the company. Throughout that journey there are multiple touchpoints that all have an impact on the employee experience. Employee experience surveys measure how employees feel about the company at all of these touchpoints.

There are four main types of employee experience surveys:

Employee Onboarding Surveys measure the experience of new starters

Employee Onboarding Surveys (sometimes called onboarder surveys or new starter surveys) measure the experience employees have in the early days of their time with the company.

They are used to gather feedback on the onboarding process to ensure that it is as effective as possible.

Just imagine you’re new to the company, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, yet no-one knows who you are when you arrive, you don’t meet your manager for a week, and you spend the first few days just finding out where to have lunch.

Data from our clients’ employee onboarding surveys, shows that job satisfaction in new starters can decrease in as little as 8 weeks if working for you does not meet their expectations. If we assume that most people start a new job fully engaged, something must be happening to erode their level of engagement.

types of employee experience surveys

What should employee onboarding surveys measure?

Employee onboarding surveys should measure the touchpoints new employees experience from the moment they see the job ad through to having been employed for up to six months or so.

Before the employee starts they will have had several opportunities to form an impression of the company. Questions to include in the onboarding survey might cover things such as:

  • The job ad will create an impression of what it might be like to work for the company. Is the ad accurately communicating the company culture?
  • The ease (or difficulty) of going through the application process will create a tone. If you have ever applied for a job in the NHS you are likely to form the impression that it is pretty bureaucratic.
  • How quickly was the employee’s application processed? The length of time it takes to go through the application process can be a significant frustration for many new employees.
  • The people who the applicant meets at interview can form an impression of what it might be like to work for the company. Many people will progress their application because they either want or need the job, but the interview experience can begin to sow some doubts if not handled appropriately.

The first day has a massive impact on how new employees feel about the company. Questions to include in the onboarding survey might cover things such as: :

  • Did reception know who the employee was when they arrived? No-one knowing who you are is hardly a sign that you are valued.
  • Was the employee’s manager ready for their arrival? Did they come to reception to greet them? Did the manager appear focussed on the new employee or did they create the impression that they were getting in the way?
  • Did the new employee’s colleagues know who they were? Did they welcome them?
  • Was the new employee shown the facilities, the toilets, the rest area/canteen, where and when to have breaks/take lunch?
  • How much time did the manager spend on explaining the role and key procedures?

The first day is often a blur so it is the first week that starts to cement some early impressions of the company. Questions to include in the onboarding survey might cover things such as: :

  • Does the employee continue to meet key people in a structure way or are they left to introduce themselves?
  • Are the key responsibilities of the role clearly explained?
  • Is someone assigned to explain how the systems and procedures work?
  • Is all the equipment needed to do the job provided and setup?
  • Will the employee get paid? On time?

The quality of induction has a big impact. Induction can be formal and informal. Many companies make the mistake of not doing the informal stuff outlined above as they leave it to take place in a formal induction. The best companies do both.

Questions to include in the onboarding survey might cover things such as:

  • Did the employee feel equipped to do their role as a result of the induction?
  • Were key processes, policies and procedures explained?
  • Were all the housekeeping things such as ID badges sorted out?
  • Did the induction explain the history behind the company, what it does, its values and strategy?
  • Was enough time dedicated to the induction process?
  • Was any online training useful?

Employee engagement surveys measure the experience of all employees

Employee engagement surveys measure how all employees feel about different aspects of working for the company.

There are various factors that impact employee engagement, but the way we explain it is as follows.

These factors measure the touchpoints that all employees have with the company. There are some immediate touchpoints that impact connection with the employee’s job such as their role, the working environment, the people they work with and their manager. There are then bigger picture touchpoints such as communication in the company, company culture, values and purpose etc, which impact connection with the company.

A well designed employee engagement survey should measure how people feel about the different factors that impact engagement.

types of employee experience surveys
The touchpoints that affect employee engagement

Employee Pulse Surveys also measure the experience of all employees

Employee pulse surveys are just a shorter employee engagement survey. They are most often used to check in with people to either find out how they are feeling at a specific moment in time or how they are feeling about a specific issue.

Employee pulse surveys have several advantages over a full employee engagement survey though:

  • They tend to be quicker to design as they usually measure fewer things than a full employee survey.
  • This makes them shorter in duration so they are less onerous to participate in.
  • As they are intended to be a quick temperature check there is often less reporting requirements, which can make them much more cost-effective to run.
  • With full employee surveys there is usually a need to compare results with the previous survey. Pulse surveys are often not intended to be compared to a previous survey so the pulse survey content can be much more agile. As such, they can be used to measure different things, with different groups of employees at different times during the year.
  • All in all they are a lot easier to make the business case for compared to a full-on engagement survey.

Pulse surveys are usually used in addition to a more comprehensive employee engagement survey. The engagement survey will probably measure more aspects of the employee experience and highlight areas for improvement across the whole organisation.

Pulse surveys have three main survey objectives:

  1. Pulse surveys can be used to confirm the findings from a previous survey. For example, imagine that your employee engagement survey indicated an issue with wellbeing. You could run a pulse survey after, say, six months, asking the same questions around wellbeing as you had in your engagement survey. By only focussing on the wellbeing questions, you will quickly be able to confirm whether or not wellbeing is still an issue.
  2. Once you have confirmed that there is an issue you could use a pulse survey to explore the issue in more detail. For example, one of our clients recently identified that communications was an area that could be improved across the organisation so they asked us to help them design a pulse survey to explore the impact of their internal comms in more depth.
  3. Pulse surveys can be used to evaluate the impact of actions implemented as a result of your engagement or pulse surveys. Using our wellbeing example, you may have implemented various wellbeing initiatives as a result of your previous surveys. Repeating the pulse survey will allow you to see if those initiatives have had an impact on the survey scores for wellbeing. A slightly different variation of this is to run another pulse survey that asks more direct questions around how well those initiatives are being received by your employees.

Employee Exit Surveys measure the experience of leavers

Understanding why people leave is one of the easiest ways to improve levels of retention and employee engagement in your business. In addition, it will help you add immediate value to the business by identifying how to reduce the costs associated with employee turnover.

There are three methods for gathering feedback from leavers – exit interviews, telephone interviews and online exit surveys.

However, exit interviews (either face to face or via telephone) have several dsiadvantages:

  • they are time consuming to administer
  • they tend to be uncomfortable for the leaver
  • the feedback they produce tends to be watered down as leavers don’t feel it is totally anonymous
  • it is time consuming to collate and report on the data
  • which makes them less effective when it comes to implementing changes to improve employee retention and reduce employee turnover.

An employee exit survey will help you understand why people are choosing to leave.

Employee exit surveys are far more effective than exit interviews as it will gather data in a more consistent format that is more anonymous and easier to analyse.

As such, employee exit surveys are the best method for outsourcing your exit interview process.

The question types and rating scale etc., are likely to be exactly the same as for an engagement survey.

What should employee exit surveys measure?

The design of your exit survey will have a major impact on the quality of information you can get out of the process. Both the process and types of exit survey questions need to be considered, but the core exit survey questions will often measure some of the things that your employee engagement survey will measure.