24 Questions to Ask Employees

The truth may hurt, but not asking could cause even more pain.

Changes in the labor market mean retention isn’t for hiring managers only. Cost cutting and downsizing in today’s job market has had a dramatic effect on the way employees look at their careers. Gallup, Towers Perrin, Mercer — all show employees are disengaged. Simply put, today’s employees have let go of their commitment to a specific employer and, like athletes unhappy with their current station, have become “free agents” in search of the best opportunity available.

That is why “retention of talent” has become a key strategy for small, midsized and especially large corporations around the world. Some are looking at things like offering special benefits (telecommuting, flexible hours, building new fitness centers, etc.), while others have gone deeper.

Lora Adrianse, a coach, consultant and owner of Essential Connections, suggests the following questions be asked to help determine how employees feel about their jobs:

1) What would make your work more meaningful and satisfying?
2) What conditions would cause you to seek employment elsewhere?
3) What is it that keeps you from seeking other employment?
4) What changes need to be made in your work environment?
5) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?
6) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?
7) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?
8) What support, tools/resources, skills or empowerment do you need to be more effective?
9) What strengths or talents do you possess that aren’t being used?
10) What de-motivates you?

Meanwhile, Management Recruiters International suggests these five questions:

1) If you could go back to any previous position and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?
2) In the morning, does your job make you jump out of bed or hit the snooze button?
3) What makes for a great workday?
4) What can we do to make your job more satisfying?
5) What can we do to keep you with us?

The pro and con with asking these questions are one and the same: you may learn things about the company that you’d prefer not knowing. Yet the answers to these questions could reveal something that is fundamentally wrong and that could be affecting other employees, as well.

If it is determined that an employee is unsatisfied, Inc.com suggests employers try asking the following questions from HR expert Timothy Augustine:

1) If you could change one thing about our company, what would it be?
2) How do you feel the company and your team are doing?
3) How do you feel I am doing as your supporting leader?
4) Do you receive sufficient feedback about your performance?
5) What is most satisfying about your job?
6) What is least satisfying about your job?
7) What would you change about your job?
8) Do you receive enough training to do your job effectively?
9) How can I, or the firm, help you reach your career goals?

Consider these questions to enhance communication between managers and employees. Managers should take time now to start talking with their people, really listening to employees’ responses and taking action to change what needs to be changed.

The key to keeping valued employees and reducing turnover is promptly addressing issues that could lead to their leaving.

Earlier: “I’m Not Paid Enough to Fully Engage In My Job. But That’s Only Half the Point.”



Questions To Ask Employees You Want To Retain
by Lora Adrianse
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  • Sherwyn
    October 25, 2007

    Those are great questions and I am sure that some of the answers might surprise management. However, I am not sure employees would be entirely candid, without anonymity. Employees might be afraid that their answers will come back to haunt them, otherwise.

  • ldysly
    October 25, 2007

    I agree that those are great questions however I don’t think companies are willing to ask them. Even those that are will not commit to making the changes needed. Retaliation is alive and well in corporate America and employees are well aware of that fact.

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