So, I hear you’re on a mission to improve employee survey participation at your organisation.
Well, I’ve been doing a bit of digging into that very customer conundrum; bending the ear of our Customer Success Managers and People Scientists for practical advice on how organisations can get better response rates and feedback from their people.
Turns out there’s no definitive rulebook and every org has its challenges, but these 15 nuggets could definitely help you improve employee survey participation—that’s response rates and feedback quality, giving you more meaningful workforce insights—from an individual employee level to a wider organisational snapshot.
Internal communication and influencers
1. Inspire people with the purpose. People need to know the true purpose behind your surveying. Whether you communicate your mission through a survey launch campaign or a friendly email from the CEO—bring employees on the journey with you and they’ll be more likely to buy into the process.
2. Spread the word about surveys with company-branded posters, blogs, and emails. Use internal comms to familiarise employees with your chosen platform, let them know what’s coming and report back on the actions you’ve taken in response to their feedback.
3. Empower line managers to drive engagement. While surveying tends to be led by HR teams, line managers are literally on the front line. Coach them to understand the value of engagement and to motivate employee survey responses through daily interactions and one-to-one meetings with their team members.
4. Harness people of influence. Word of mouth is underrated. Enlist the help of your senior leaders to promote the impact of taking part and win over your most vocal survey adopters—turning them into advocates who encourage employee survey participation amongst their peers.
[Spread the word about employee surveys with internal communications]
Setting your question strategy
5. Don’t survey for the sake of surveying. Make sure you have clear objectives, a question strategy (even if it’s very simple!) and set timelines for actioning feedback. People can feel apathetic towards surveying if they sense there is no real intention for change.
6. Write questions in your language and tone of voice. How do you normally communicate with employees? Strike a tone they’ll recognise and use words they’ll understand. Eg. you wouldn’t write questions in corporate-speak if you have an informal, casual culture.
7. Ask relevant questions. Ever thought “Why am I being asked this question, this has nothing to do with me?”. We all have and we hate it! Outside of company-wide surveys, target employee demographics with pulse surveys, using questions that are relevant to their role and responsibilities.
8. Avoid loaded questions at all costs. It might be tempting to try to influence how employees respond to questions, but true organisational change depends on truthful feedback. If people are having a negative experience or an issue, it’s better to know, right?
[Send surveys to benchmark an employee wellbeing survey, like Gateshead College]
Optimising your surveys
9. Run test surveys with a cross-section of your people to understand the end user experience—is the feedback process simple, straightforward and user-friendly for all your employees?
10. Make your surveys as accessible as possible—using the method that has the best reach for your organisation—whether that’s email, SMS, paper or a combination.
11. Leverage platform features. Got a survey live? Not everyone can take part as soon they receive a survey alert, so boost employee survey participation by sending a reminder email to your workforce and show you value everybody’s feedback.
[Give people a gentle nudge with an employee survey reminder]
Gathering feedback and action planning
12. Communicate employee confidentiality. It would be amazing if people felt comfortable to give their feedback openly, but there’s often a fear of repercussion. Reassure people that their feedback will be treated confidentially and that their honesty will drive real cultural change.
13. Assess internal resource for actioning feedback. Before deciding on the length and frequency of your surveys, consider how quickly your team can analyse and action feedback. People could get frustrated by completing surveys every week if they aren’t seeing any action or changes.
14. Involve teams in positive action planning. Once your managers feel confident in data storytelling, bring employees together to reflect on survey suggestions, issues and resolutions. By putting your people at the heart of action planning, they will feel closer to the cause and more likely to support change.
15. Show real impact by reporting back. It’s great being able to share improved employee engagement levels with the big wigs, but to get these results—the people who need to see and believe their feedback is being actioned are the very people you are surveying. Don’t be afraid to report on the workplace changes that are slow-moving or not being addressed, simply share the reasons why and people will appreciate the honesty.
Do surveys right and watch your response rates soar!
Now that you’re well on the way to improving employee survey participation, you can start thinking about improving employee engagement at your organisation!
Check out our eBook 7 Survey Questions Proven to Track Employee Engagement which provides a People Science-designed question set for exploring and benchmarking employee engagement, and also comes with a ‘Quick and Easy Question Writing Checklist’.
And if you’d like to hear more on employee feedback strategy and take a closer look at our employee feedback tools—book an intro with a member of our team, who’ll tailor feedback tips and advice to your organisation’s needs!