Flight Risk Factors: How to Analyze Open-Ended Survey Comments from People at Risk of Leaving Your Organization

Best practices to follow when analyzing survey comments from at-risk employees.

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The Flight Risk Factors dashboard helps narrow the causes of employee turnover. 

This dashboard provides two key pieces of information that help uncover why employees may leave your organization. 

First, it provides the survey items or demographics that play a key role in determining why an employee might leave your organization. Second, it provides open-ended comments from employees that are deemed as the most at risk of leaving your organization.

When used together, you can take action to mitigate the future risk of turnover in your population. 

What to do with Open-Ended Survey Comments

Best practices to follow when analyzing survey comments:

  • Compare major themes to the overall themes from your engagement survey 
    • Are these comments in line with previous themes or do they bring up unique challenges?
    • Do these comments touch on known pain points that you are actively working to address?
  • Assess the urgency of the comments
    • Are employees sharing things they need to see fixed immediately? Or are they speaking about longer-term opportunities?
    • Are employees sharing frustrations that are timely/trendy or are they sharing frustrations that have troubled your organization for quite some time?
  • Look for potential bias and prejudice at play
    • Employees may have very specific reasons for leaving an organization, it’s important to understand what might have occurred that led to their decision to move on from your organization.
  • Look for the positives in the comments
    • Even if employees may be at risk of leaving your organization, they still might have had some very positive experiences inside the organization.; look for the things they enjoy about working at your organization and lean into those for current teams and future hires

What to Avoid with Open-Ended Survey Comments 

Practices to avoid when analyzing survey comments: 

  • “Who-hunting"
    • Don’t try to determine who said what in order to retaliate against them or take comments personally- rather, focus on the ideas or frustrations shared
  • Ignore the comments because you think the employee is already on their way out of the organization
    • Even if these comments are coming from at-risk employees, it doesn't mean that they have left your organization yet
    • By taking action and responding to the frustrations shared by at-risk employees, you can still mitigate the risk of these employees leaving in the near future
  • Hope that managers and other leaders are already doing something about the negative comment
    • While managers and other leaders may have already seen the comments when reviewing survey results, this doesn't mean that they were acted on
    • Look for opportunities in future meetings with leadership and management to discuss the key themes identified from the at-risk comments and potential solutions and action