I read an interesting case study this week in the Harvard Business Review that brings up a question any CEO or HR professional may find themselves asking at one point or another: “Why are we losing all of our good people?”

It’s common for organizations to encounter staggered episodes of increased employee resignation. This can bring a great deal of concern and worry to the table for HR, and may very well be accompanied by a subsequent group of questions such as: “Are we doing something wrong?” “How can we fix this?” and “Is this something that we can prevent?

According to F. Leigh Branham (CEO of Keeping the People, a human resources consultancy and author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late”), there are several “triggering events” that can push an employee to leave. The important thing to remember is not to panic when faced with such a circumstance. As shocking as it may be to lose top talent, there are preventative measures that HR can take to increase employee satisfaction and lessen the chances of them ‘hitting the pavement’.

Executing employee surveys are a great way to address the needs of your people, and also a way to receive valuable feedback from start to finish. Using employee surveys as part of your hiring process, alongside and in between performance reviews, and as part of exit interviews can generate optimal results.

Regular surveys are especially useful for “checking up” or for gathering specific information on employees throughout the year. Jean Martin, executive director of the Corporate Leadership Council confirms this by saying that companies should “conduct regular ‘culture audits’ to measure employees’ connection to the company’s work environment.” She continues, “These anonymous audits consist of a brief set of questions aimed at discovering cultural disconnects.”

An employee will not always be upfront and direct with their manager if they are unhappy with their working environment and are thinking of cashing in. As Branham puts it, “Most employees are reluctant to talk openly with management about any of these so-called push factors.” Anonymous employee surveys are great for this very reason, especially because they allow HR to gather data which can be analyzed and used to fix or prevent the problem. As Martin confirms, “Such studies followed by proper managerial attention, can reduce attrition rates by as much as 87%.”

However, as I discussed in last week’s blog (see common talent management traps), employee surveys should never replace human contact. Anna Pringle, head of international people and organization capability for Microsoft confirms that HR should “consider conducting ‘listening tours.’ These would involve visiting every department, gathering direct feedback from supervisors and staff, and taking the organization’s pulse.” While employee surveys are a great tool, they should always be accompanied by face-to-face interaction.

Want to learn more about employee surveys? Take a look at eSurvey – emPerform’s integrated online survey tool.