How to use HR surveys?

Appinio Research · 20.10.2022 · 8min read

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Corporate success is significantly linked to the performance of the employees - no matter whether we talk about a small company or an HR department in a corporate group. HR managers can use targeted surveys to better understand their employees and, for example, determine the reasons for dissatisfaction or absenteeism and initiate countermeasures. It also makes sense to survey target groups that correspond to potential applicants in order to optimize recruiting.

Surveys for Recruiting

Companies are under increasing pressure to attract graduates, young professionals, specialists and managers. The war for talents has dominated the job market for years, and the situation is acute in many sectors. If you want to hire the talents of tomorrow today, you need to know the trends in recruiting and what exactly makes your applicant target group tick. If you don't get this information advantage through surveys, you will be swimming with the mass of employers and will not be able to stand out to good candidates. Surveys in the target group help to make recruiting efforts more effective and efficient.

In this article, the market research experts from Appinio present which HR related questions can be answered by surveys.

Values and Expectations

For recruiters and HR managers, it is very important to understand which attitudes Millennials (born 1980 to 1994) or the subsequent Generation Z have towards work in general, the workplace and a work-life balance. Especially graduates and high potentials, i.e. junior staff with a particularly high potential, are interesting for companies. Surveys with young professionals about their values and expectations toward an employer provide enormously valuable information for HR departments and recruiters. They learn what is important to potential candidates, can adjust recruiting strategies, get the better applicants and can retain new employees in the long term.

Recruiting Channels

Investing in inefficient recruiting channels unnecessarily burns budget. Therefore, you should only search for candidates where it is promising. A survey on recruiting channels aims at finding out exactly which channels the target group of applicants uses to search for jobs or which channels they use particularly frequently to obtain general information (media consumption). Are general job-search platforms like Stepstone important, are meta-job search engines like Indeed or Google Jobs important? Or are industry portals and trade journals more relevant to your applicants? What role do social media platforms play and which ones do they use in particular? Do potential employees prefer to search for jobs on their mobile phones? Only those who know how their potential candidates search for jobs can set up lean recruiting processes.

Change Motivation & Benefits

Which incentives motivate potential candidates to actually switch? How do they decide which company they want to work for? The aim of a survey on motivation and benefits is to find out what actions a company can take to convince job seekers to choose them over another employer.
It often helps to ask about the importance of factors that would influence a job decision. For example, the question could be: "If you had to choose between two job offers, how important would the following factors be for you?" This is done using a Likert scale from "Not important at all" to "Very important". Points to be evaluated are, for example, training opportunities, company growth, company reputation, work-life balance, salary or additional benefits.

Advantages can be a crucial argument for employees when choosing a job. They are often more attractive than a higher salary. In addition to internal company benefits, such as cheaper loans or stock programs at banks, general benefits are common across all industries. Whether it's a company car, a pension plan, a smartphone, meal subsidies, a local transport ticket or a gym membership - find out which additional benefits are particularly well-received by your target group.

Employer Image

In the case of well-known companies, it is worth investigating the employer image at a regional or national level. The aim here is to get a general feeling about their attitude and to capture positive and negative associations with the company. If you ask specific target groups, for example young people looking for a training place, it is worthwhile to also ask about the image of the industry. Is the industry attractive as an employer or not and why is that the case?

Such findings can be used excellently for employer campaigns. HR managers would do well to test online advertisements, video spots or advertising posters with the target group before launching them.

You can find out how a design test works for different advertising media here.

Surveys for Employer Branding & Employee Satisfaction

The aim of employer branding is to present a company as an attractive employer and to differentiate it from its competitors. The development and optimization of an employer brand includes various measures within the candidate journey.

For example, the candidate target group can be asked about their assessment of the career site, the general employer image or the relevance of employer ratings that can be found on platforms such as Kununu, Glassdoor or Indeed.


Employee Surveys

Anonymous employee surveys provide HR managers, department heads and management with information about the current state of the workforce on a regular basis. Furthermore, HR managers learn about challenges that employees would not address in a personal interview. Therefore, employee surveys are perfectly suitable for optimizing recruiting and personnel management.


Employee surveys are not only positive for the management, but also act as a participation tool in an organization. At this point, empowerment is the keyword. Companies show that they value their employees and that their opinions are important to them. The surveyed employees also provide ideas on how the challenges they experience should be addressed. If these are then implemented by the team itself, this can positively impact motivation and mood of the individual, but also entire departments, locations or the entire company.


In an employee survey, for example, one can ask about factors such as mood, satisfaction, motivation, supervisor behaviour, further training programmes or workplace equipment. Find out which factors influence the productivity of your employees.


Employee Net Promoter Score

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), or Employee NPS, is a measure of employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction is measured by how willing the workforce is to recommend the company as an employer. The typical question is: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that you will recommend [Company XY] as an employer?

The question segments employees into promoters (9 to 10 points on the scale), passives (7 to 8 points) and detractors (6 to 0 points). The eNPS is calculated from the difference between the percentages of promoters and detractors and can reach a value between -100 and +100.

Some companies supplement the general question about recommending the company as an employer with a second question about recommending products or services: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend the products/services of [company XY] to friends/acquaintances/colleagues?

The employee NPS should be surveyed anonymously, but of course it is useful to segment the loyalty level according to criteria such as department, branch/location, number of years at the company etc. in order to get more accurate results. Furthermore, the eNPS should be surveyed regularly.

If companies know their Employee Net Promoter Score, they can measure themselves against the average eNPS in their industry or benchmark themselves against a set of competitors. More meaningful than the eNPS, however, is an intensive employee survey in order to obtain details about the attitude of the employees. 

Competition & Industry Analysis

In order to carry out successful recruiting or to reduce employee turnover, it helps to analyse the situation of your own company on the labour market, but also that of your competitors. An industry analysis or a competitive analysis is particularly recommended if the company is not one of the leading companies in an industry. Surveys on one's own employer image, the image of the industry and the perception of competitors are a good tool to identify optimization approaches for recruiting and employee management. For example, it helps to find out which companies are generally seen as the most popular employer by the applicant target group, and which ones those are in the industry or in the region in particular.

Furthermore, targeted surveys can be used to obtain information on employee turnover, motivation to change jobs or the level of satisfaction in competing companies or in the industry in general. These insights are extremely valuable for the optimization of your own personnel management strategy.

In our Appinio Dashboard you will find sample surveys for recruiting and employer branding as well as competitive analyses that you can adapt to your needs.



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