Applauz Blog

7 Powerful Types of Employee Surveys to Boost Engagement and Retention

Published: May 28, 2024

  9 min read

By: Ashley Sherlow

Types of Employee Surveys to Boost Engagement and Retention

Discover 7 types of employee surveys, the pros and cons of each, and best practices to improve transparency, engagement and retention.

The modern workforce is undergoing a notable shift: culture takes precedence when it comes to the priorities of organizational leaders. But how do these leaders ensure they understand their employee’s experiences and needs within the company? One invaluable tool: Employee surveys. This blog post weighs the pros and cons of different employee survey types and shares best practices that will inform your company’s employee relations strategy. 

midsection-colleagues-working-officeWhy Employee Surveys are Important

Today's competitive job market demands that organizations have a clear understanding of their employees' needs and wants because, ultimately, it is crucial in both retaining top talent and in fostering a thriving company culture. But how do you get these honest, accurate insights from your team members?

Employee surveys are a powerful tool for gathering valuable insights into employee sentiment, satisfaction, and engagement. There are several different types of employee surveys, each with strengths and weaknesses that lend each type to your various objectives. Overall, however, surveys provide a host of benefits, including:

  • More Engaged Employees: Surveys give employees a voice and show your team members that their opinions matter. When employees feel heard and valued, they're more likely to be invested in their work and remain committed to the organization's success.

  • Reduced Employee Turnover: Understanding the root causes of employee dissatisfaction can help you address them and create a more positive work environment. This can lead to less employee turnover and, therefore, avoid some of the costs associated with recruitment and onboarding.

  • Better, More Informed Decision-Making: Surveys support a data-driven approach which can lead to more effective initiatives for improving employee satisfaction, motivation, and overall company culture.

  • Clarify Areas for Improvement: Surveys have the power to pinpoint specific areas where your organization can improve such as communication, compensation, work-life balance, or professional development opportunities.

  • Boosted Productivity and Performance: By addressing employee concerns and creating a more positive work environment, surveys can lead to increased productivity, improved performance, and better overall business outcomes.

Now that we have that covered, here's a closer look at the 7 common types of employee surveys.

handsome-businessman-using-his-tablet-officeEngagement Surveys

Engagement continues to be a nontrivial challenge in today’s workforce, necessitating robust employee engagement strategies. A staggering statistic from Gallup reveals that only 30% of US employees are engaged at work in 2024. This is a big deal to the success of any company. Disengaged employees are a significant cost burden, with McKinsey reporting that employee disengagement and attrition could cost a median-size S&P 500 company between $228 million and $355 million a year in lost productivity.

The reasons for employees disengage with their work can be complex, but it often includes a lack of feeling valued, limited growth opportunities, and a disconnect with company goals. With employee engagement surveys, you can get important metrics with regard to employee commitment, motivation, and overall satisfaction with their work.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for engagement surveys.

Use Engagement Surveys to:

  • Assess overall employee engagement levels to identify areas where employees may be feeling unmotivated or disconnected.
  • Identify factors impacting morale, such as lack of recognition, limited growth opportunities, or unclear communication.
  • Inform engagement strategies designed to create a more positive and productive work environment, leading to increased employee satisfaction and retention.


  • Identify Disengagement: Identify pockets of disengagement within your workforce and understand the root causes of employee apathy with engagement surveys.
  • Find Opportunities to Improve Morale: After understanding what factors are contributing to disengagement, you can develop strategies to boost morale and create a more positive work environment.
  • Gauge Employee Understanding of Company Goals: Engagement surveys can help assess how well employees understand and align with the organization's goals. You can even use data collected from these surveys to benchmark engagement progress in the future.


  • Time-consuming: Developing, administering, and analyzing comprehensive engagement surveys can be a time-consuming process.
  • Frequency matters: If conducted infrequently, engagement surveys may miss important shifts in employee sentiment or fail to capture the nuances of employee experience.

tablet-smile-business-woman-office-social-media-app-comic-blog-news-networking-online-corporate-digital-manager-with-smartphone-communication-website-review-social-networkPulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are short, frequent surveys that measure employee sentiment on specific topics. Employee pulse surveys are designed to gather quick and frequent feedback on specific topics or current events within the organization. These surveys are typically shorter and less formal than traditional employee surveys and can be administered digitally. The real-time data they provide allows for faster decision-making and addressing of employee concerns before they escalate into larger problems.

While traditional annual engagement surveys offer valuable insights, they can lack the immediacy needed to address evolving employee sentiment. Today’s statistics indicate that knowing where your employees stand on a regular basis – and how you can engage them at work – is important. Gallup reports only 33% of US employees and 23% globally are actively engaged at work.

Pulse surveys can bridge this gap. These shorter, more frequent surveys allow you to take stock of the state of your workforce on specific topics or current events.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for pulse surveys. 

Use Pulse Surveys to: 

  • Monitor employee sentiment on recent changes, such as a new software implementation or a policy update.
  • Gauge real-time reactions to new initiatives or leadership decisions.
  • Identify emerging concerns before they become widespread problems.


  • Timely Feedback: Pulse surveys provide quick insights, allowing you to address issues before they escalate and prevent small problems from snowballing into larger ones.
  • Identifies Issues Early: By gathering real-time feedback, you can nip potential problems in the bud and proactively address employee concerns.
  • Gauges Sentiment Regularly: Frequent pulse surveys offer a more continuous pulse on employee sentiment, allowing you to track trends and identify areas where sentiment might be shifting.
  • High Response Rates: Due to their brevity and focused nature, pulse surveys typically offer higher response rates compared to longer, more in-depth surveys.


  • Limited Depth: Pulse surveys provide a snapshot of employee sentiment on a specific topic and may not offer the in-depth insights you need to understand the root cause of issues.
  • Easy to Overuse: While frequent feedback is valuable, conducting pulse surveys too often can lead to survey fatigue and decreased response rates.


Applauz's pulse surveys are a great tool to gather specific feedback relevant to your enterprise. You can even use pulse surveys to ask employees about their preferences for rewards or their thoughts on the current recognition program. Check out Applauz Pulse Survey Reports or take a look at our guide to conducting pulse surveys here for more information.

8 Employee Survey Best Practices to Measure and Improve Engagement Download PDF Now

portrait-handsome-mature-businessman-with-digital-tablet-officeSatisfaction Surveys

Satisfaction surveys measure how happy employees are with various aspects of their work experience, such as compensation, benefits, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth. An employee’s experience in an organization can be measured through satisfaction (or, lack thereof). Satisfaction ratings among your team members can be a fantastic way to measure the success of – and areas for improvement within – your engagement programs.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for satisfaction surveys. 

Use Satisfaction Surveys to: 

  • Gauge overall employee satisfaction with various aspects of work.
  • Pinpoint areas that cause discontent among your employees, such as lack of career development opportunities or inadequate work-life balance.
  • Track progress after implementing changes designed to improve employee satisfaction.


  • Focus on Areas for Improvement: Satisfaction surveys help pinpoint specific areas where your organization can improve the work experience for employees.
  • Understand Employee Well-being: By understanding employee satisfaction with work-life balance and overall well-being, you can develop initiatives to promote a healthier work environment.
  • Inform HR Initiatives: Data from satisfaction surveys can be used to inform HR initiatives and programs aimed at boosting employee satisfaction and engagement.


  • Subjective Responses: Satisfaction surveys rely on employee perceptions, which can be subjective and may not always reflect reality. Further to this, not all employees will choose to respond, which could lead to (voluntary) response bias.
  • Lack of Actionable Insights: While satisfaction surveys can highlight areas of concern, they may not always provide clear and actionable insights for improvement.

side-view-bearded-asian-businessman-working-laptop-office360-Degree Feedback Surveys

A staggering statistic from Gartner's 2018 Digital Employee Experience Survey reveals that nearly a third (29%) of employees feel misunderstood by their colleagues and managers. This lack of understanding can hinder performance, motivation, and overall workplace satisfaction.  360-degree feedback surveys can be a powerful tool to bridge this gap. By gathering feedback from multiple perspectives, including peers, supervisors, and even clients (if applicable), 360-degree surveys provide a more comprehensive picture of an employee's strengths and weaknesses.

360-degree feedback surveys gather well-rounded feedback about an employee's performance by gathering information from managers, peers, and even clients. This type of feedback can be especially valuable if you’re looking to find areas for improvement and opportunities for creating a better employee experience. Studies have shown that implementing 360-degree feedback programs can lead to significant improvements in employee performance and development.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for 360-degree feedback surveys. 

Use 360-degree Feedback Surveys to: 

  • Support professional development by identifying areas for improvement and tailoring development plans based on multi-source feedback.
  • Provide constructive feedback for well-rounded growth, ensuring employees receive a comprehensive picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identify high-potential employees by highlighting areas where they excel according to their peers and clients.


  • Comprehensive View: 360-degree feedback offers a more holistic view of an employee's performance, going beyond a manager's perspective to include insights from colleagues and clients.
  • Promotes Self-Development: By receiving feedback from multiple sources, employees gain valuable insights into how they are perceived by others, fostering self-awareness and promoting self-development.
  • Fosters Open Communication: The 360-degree feedback process can encourage open communication within teams, as employees receive constructive criticism and feedback for improvement.


  • Time-consuming to Administer: Coordinating feedback from multiple sources can be time-consuming, both for the administrator and the participants.
  • Can Be Perceived as Intrusive: Some employees may find the 360-degree feedback process intrusive, particularly if anonymity is not guaranteed.

here-are-documents-you-requested-cropped-shot-businesspeople-workplaceExit Surveys

The tides are turning in the job market. A recent study by Mercer LLC found that voluntary employee turnover in Canada has reached 15.5% in 2023, a significant increase from the previous year. This rise in employee departures underscores the importance of understanding why valued team members choose to leave your organization.

Ideally, you would catch employees before they leave by conducting stay interviews, but exit surveys are arguably the best platform for honest feedback from employees who have already made their decision. Exit surveys gather feedback from employees leaving the company. The purpose of these surveys is to understand their motivations for doing so. By asking targeted questions about their motivations for leaving, companies can gain valuable insights into factors influencing employee retention.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for exit surveys. 

Use Exit Surveys to: 

  • Understand the reasons behind employee departures to identify areas where the company can improve the work experience and reduce turnover.
  • Identify areas to improve workplace culture, such as communication, recognition, or workload management.
  • Address issues causing retention problems to create a more engaging and satisfying work environment for current employees.


  • Identify Factors Contributing to Turnover: Exit surveys can help you understand the root causes of employee turnover, allowing you to address these issues and reduce future departures.
  • Improve Retention Strategies: By understanding why employees are leaving, you can develop targeted retention strategies to address common concerns and create a more positive work environment.
  • Gain Insights to Address Common Concerns: Exit surveys can reveal common themes or issues that are contributing to employee dissatisfaction, allowing you to proactively address them before they lead to further departures.


  • Honest Feedback May Be Limited: Employees who are leaving the company may be less likely to provide honest feedback, particularly if they fear repercussions.
  • May Not Reflect Broader Employee Sentiment: Feedback from departing employees may not reflect the overall sentiment of the workforce, and may be specific to their individual situations.

closeup-portrait-stylish-beautiful-elegant-ginger-woman-working-online-digital-tabletEmployee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) Surveys

The Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) is a metric adapted from the Net Promoter Score (NPS) used to measure customer satisfaction. It measures employee loyalty and the likelihood of recommending the company as a workplace to friends and family. ENPS surveys typically ask a single core question: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [Company Name] as a great place to work?" Employees are then categorized into three groups based on their responses.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for ENPS surveys. 

Use ENPS Surveys to: 

  • Track employee loyalty over time to identify trends and measure the effectiveness of employee engagement initiatives.
  • Benchmark against industry averages to understand how your company stacks up in terms of employee loyalty.
  • Identify areas to strengthen your employer brand to attract and retain top talent.


  • Simple, Actionable Metric: ENPS provides a single, easy-to-understand score that gauges employee loyalty and advocacy for the company.
  • Gauge Employee Loyalty Over Time: Regular ENPS surveys allow HR leaders to track changes in employee sentiment and identify areas where loyalty is increasing or decreasing.
  • Benchmarks Against Industry Averages: ENPS scores can be benchmarked against industry averages to understand how your employee loyalty compares to competitors.


  • Limited Scope: ENPS surveys only provide a single data point and don't offer specific reasons behind employee sentiment.
  • Doesn't Provide Specific Feedback: While ENPS reveals loyalty levels, it doesn't provide detailed insights into why employees may be promoters or detractors.

business-people-teamwork-contract-with-lawyer-management-team-talking-about-paperwork-law-analysis-woman-with-communication-cooperation-planning-research-with-strategy-documentOnboarding Feedback Surveys:

The first few weeks and months in a new role are critical for setting the stage for employee success and retention. Onboarding feedback surveys are a powerful tool for gathering valuable insights from new hires about their onboarding experience. This targeted questionnaire is specifically designed to gather feedback from new hires about their onboarding experience, including training and development, managerial support, first-day experience, and team integration. This information can be used to identify areas for improvement and ensure a smooth transition for future hires.

Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and best use cases for onboarding feedback surveys. 

Use Onboarding Feedback Surveys to: 

  • Refine your onboarding program to address any shortcomings identified in the feedback.
  • Identify areas that leave new hires feeling unsupported or confused during their initial integration into the company.
  • Improve retention rates by ensuring new hires have a positive onboarding experience that sets them up for success.


  • Identify Gaps in Onboarding Process: Onboarding feedback helps identify any gaps or weaknesses in your onboarding program, allowing you to refine the process and ensure a smooth transition for new hires.
  • Improve Welcome Experience: By understanding what aspects of onboarding were most helpful and what areas fell short, you can improve the overall welcome experience for new hires.
  • Ensure New Hires Feel Valued: Seeking feedback from new hires demonstrates that you value their experience and are committed to their success within the company.


  • Limited Scope: Onboarding feedback surveys focus solely on the onboarding experience and may not reflect a new hire's overall sentiment about the company.
  • Feedback May Not Reflect Long-Term Experience: Feedback from new hires may not capture their long-term experience within the company or their overall satisfaction with the role.


Conducting regular employee surveys provides invaluable insights into employee sentiment and experiences. Data taken from any of the surveys that we’ve discussed here – including engagement, satisfaction, pulse, and 360-degree surveys – provides a window into general employee sentiment and the employee experience. Understanding factors like employee satisfaction, growth opportunities, and feelings of value empowers HR teams to craft targeted initiatives that address employee needs and foster a more positive and productive work environment.

Oftentimes, employee recognition is a powerful tool that can be used to address many of the concerns identified through surveys, boosting morale, increasing engagement, and driving loyalty. Applauz, a leading employee recognition platform, goes beyond data collection to empower you to take action.

Applauz integrates seamlessly with your survey practices, allowing you to not only gather valuable feedback but to also design and implement recognition programs that reinforce action and create a positive impact within your organization. An excellent example of this could involve the use of pulse surveys to gauge sentiment around a new company policy. From there, your HR team can leverage Applauz to launch a recognition program that rewards employees who exemplify this policy change.

This is just one of many examples that demonstrate how an organization like yours can strategically recognize employees for their contributions and align recognition efforts with survey feedback. In this way, Applauz can help you bridge the gap between insights and action! See how you can easily conduct surveys, such as pulse surveys, with our robust tool, Applauz Engagement Essentials

Gain Powerful Employee Insights  Collect employee feedback to gain data-driven insights into your company  culture. Learn More

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