Great participation in employee engagement surveys doesn’t just happen because you sent out the survey.

To learn what has worked well, we talked to customers who have achieved high participation rates (>75%) in their engagement surveys and pulses, and asked them what they’ve done to make it happen. After reviewing our interview notes, we had an epiphany. 

Those organizations that were able to achieve great participation implemented strategies that covered all three stages in the preparation (before), launch (during) and follow-through (after) of their engagement survey. ALL 3.

Here are 9 commonly-used strategies, categorized into these three stages, to improve engagement survey participation:

  • BEFORE you launch your engagement survey
  • DURING the roll-out
  • AFTER your survey closes

BEFORE you launch your engagement survey

1. Create an Action Plan of what you’re going to do with the results of your engagement survey

Start with the end in mind. Plan out, in detail, what you will be doing with your employees’ feedback. Ask these questions when you draw up your plan:

  • What will you be doing with the results? 
  • Who will these results be shared with?
  • What is the timeline for analyzing, sharing and actioning on results?
  • Who will be involved in and in charge of actioning on the results?

2. Communicate with an Employee-First Mindset

Communication is vital throughout your survey initiative. To do it right, you need to communicate a message that aligns with your employees’ mindset. Consider the demographics within your employee population (age groups, cultural backgrounds, etc.). Why would they care? What’s in it for them?

Here are some examples of common elements included in employee-first messaging that have worked for others:

  • Value to the employee (their Why). Examples: opportunity to improve their everyday work experience, always-on communication channel to leadership to discuss what’s working and what’s not working, etc.
  • Express vulnerability. Examples: talk about recent employee turnover issues, discuss an event that has resulted in hardships that the company must now address with their help, etc.
  • Talk about the action plan created in #1.
  • Tell people how much of their time (average number of minutes) it takes to complete the survey/pulse.
  • Reiterate anonymity of the survey so that they feel comfortable to share both good and bad feedback.
  • Provide real examples of feedback results in the past that led to changes in the company (if available).

3.  Get your Managers On Board

100% of your management team (C-suite and mid-level managers) should be on board. To do this they need to know why this initiative is important to their own role, to the success of their team, and the organization as a whole. Also, walk them through how the engagement survey works. This way if their team members have any questions they are armed with the knowledge to answer their questions. Their level of commitment will play a vital role in encouraging participation on their team and ultimately, to follow-through on the results.

Companies with employees working in a manufacturing or warehouse environment
Make sure to bring on board the managers or leaders who “walk the floor” with their team. They will play a key role to help you spread the message and provide operational support during the rollout of your engagement survey.

4.  Multi-Channel Announcement from the Top

Use multiple channels to announce your engagement survey. Mix it up between digital channels and in-person communication (where possible). Examples of some commonly used communication channels include: email, team standup/staff meetings, 1-on-1s, common room TVs, company newsletter, posters, and all-hands townhall.

Consider WHO the message is coming from
It needs to come from the top. From a person who genuinely cares about and is responsible for company culture and employee engagement. Ideally, it would come from the CEO. Have him/her personally communicate the importance of this engagement survey, how high it is on on their priority list, and why it matters that everyone participates.

DURING the roll-out

5.  Monitor Participation Rates and Target Segments with Lower Participation

Participation rates can vary widely between different teams, locations, shifts and roles. Instead of generally reminding all employees to participate, target those employee segments experiencing lower participation. Ask the managers of these teams, shifts, or locations with lower participation to talk to their people and encourage their participation.

It’s important that you’re targeting “employee segments” with lower participation, not “individuals” who have not participated. Engagement surveys should be anonymous to allow employees to be honest with you sharing both positive and negative feedback.

You can use Perked!’s real-time participation breakdown analysis to monitor participation and target the right employee segments.

6.  Activate your Managers and Hold them Accountable

Keep managers in the loop about the participation of their team. Then put them in charge of getting their team members to participate. A manager asking their team directly to participate carries more weight than a company-wide email reminder.

Managers go first
Ask your managers to participate in the engagement survey early on. That way they know what the process is like and would be better equipped to answer questions from their team.

7.  Designate a time slot to complete the survey

This is particularly relevant for manufacturing companies with hourly or shift workers. Carve out time for your employees to take the survey during their workday. Make sure you are not using their break or lunch time. To do this well, you will need the help of your managers to find the best time for their team members to complete the engagement survey. Also, consider providing computers or tablets that allow them to access the survey easily.

Make HR contact details visible
Make HR contact details available and visible in case employees have any questions.

AFTER the roll-out of your employee survey

8. Share the Results

After the survey is closed, share the results with your company. Show your employees that their feedback matters and that it doesn’t just get “sucked into a black hole”. For those who decided not to participate this time, they will begin to see the value to themselves and their team, and increase the likelihood they will participate the next time around.

When sharing the results, start with a presentation to executive leadership, then discuss it next with mid-level management. Finally, share it widely with your employees. Make sure Leadership and Managers have a consistent message on next steps and actionables that they can communicate with their teams. Use Perked!’s Shareable Segment Dashboards to easily share segment-specific results with managers and teams.

Focus on sharing top 1 or 2 actionables
Don’t just share the overall engagement results. Focus on the top one or two things that leadership will be prioritizing action on and explain why. This means that you need to analyze the results ahead of time (OR you could leverage Perked!‘s Leadership Digest to pull out the Top Actionables).

9.  Follow-through on the Actions

Do what you said you’ll do in the Action Plan created in #1. Period.

Key Learnings

  • Great participation in employee engagement surveys doesn’t just happen because you sent out the survey.
  • 3 Stage Approach to improving participation in your employee engagement survey: before, during and after sending out your employee engagement survey or pulse.
  • No matter what stage of the engagement survey initiative you are in, you have it in your power to adopt strategies that will help you improve participation.