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3 ways new employee surveys can improve retention

By Christine Nelson, Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC

Employee surveys typically include all employees, but new employees have a unique viewpoint about an accounting firm’s brand experience and culture. Their experience is fresh and novel. Narrow the survey focus to a new employee survey (those hired within the past 24 months) to identify branding or cultural perceptions during the interviewing, interning, hiring and onboarding phases.
 
Here are three ways that a new employee survey can support and even improve retention. Make sure to ask the right questions and analyze the results for action.
 
1. Identify strengths in all phases of the new employee experience
 
Develop open-ended as well as multiple-choice questions that zero in on the best attributes of internships, communications, interviewing processes, onboarding and training opportunities. Make sure to address key elements of engagement, such as the employee’s ability to ask questions, get more training or identify a mentor in the firm. You could also ask if the employee understands the firm’s vision and his or her purpose in it.
 
When analyzing the firm’s strengths, based on actual employee comments, look for ways to promote those strengths to existing employees and new potential employees. Publish key results on your careers page and college fair materials. This feedback makes current employees feel good about working for the firm and attract new candidates.
 
2. Be open to critiques to improve new employee experiences
 
Ask new employees how the firm could improve communication, training, a clear career track, technology to do their jobs, a connection to clients or even opportunities to socialize or do team activities in the community. Ask for their first impressions, even if they aren’t sure.
 
New employees might not have a lot to say about improvements. That’s why any suggestions for improvement from this group are noteworthy. It’s something they noticed, and it might be a problem to head off early. Encourage them to be honest to help the firm improve.
 
3. Compare experiences across departments and offices
 
Analysis of new employee surveys can identify inconsistencies in employee experiences. One intern has an amazing experience while another wasn’t sure about applying for the job. One office is very welcoming to new employees while another office leaves them to fend for themselves.
 
Combine the strengths identified in the survey with suggestions for improvement and use them to build cultural expectations into each phase of the new employee’s experience. Interns like to stay busy and want to feel comfortable asking questions. Newly hired employees like to feel competent about accessing files and want to be included in project discussions. Over time, employees like to understand how their work makes a difference to clients and how to build their careers at the firm. These big and little things count in your survey.
 
Bonus tip: Be consistent
 
When firms get into the habit of surveying employees, then employees will feel more forthcoming about suggestions and, hopefully, engaged and cared about when they see their suggestions implemented.
 
To keep results and analysis confidential, which will elevate participation and qualitative data, consider outsourcing the project. Investment in a new employee survey — when conducted strategically and followed up with positive actions — is far less expensive than losing a talented employee after just a few years.
 
Christine Nelson is a senior communications consultant with Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC. You may reach her at 651-690-3358 or christine@ingenuitymarketing.com.