It’s T-minus one week and you’re ready to launch your employee listening program. You’ve sent out a test email, given your managers a heads-up, but now it’s time to send out the email to your employees, whose response rates will make or break your survey results.
Two of the most significant reasons that employees resist surveys are anonymity concerns and doubts about the usefulness of surveys. It’s important to factor in concerns like that when you are preparing for and rolling out that first communication to employees. Making your workforce feel comfortable with, and even excited about, making their views known is crucial to getting the amount and quality of responses you need.
With that in mind, here are 7 ways that we think you can chase the crickets away when you announce an employee survey:
1. Pave the way
Don’t just tell your managers a survey is coming – ask them to relay to employees that a survey is coming, offer highlights of what it’ll ask and why it’s important for the organization. Have your managers assure employees that anonymity will be protected. If you’re using a third-party survey provider, have managers play this up as employees will be much more likely to trust they’ll be anonymous. And transmit to managers what concrete actions are expected to be taken based on survey results.
2. Fly the flag
Create a consistent logo and branding for your survey, so it’ll stand out in communications and employees will instantly know they’re getting information about a survey.
3. Get personal
If you want employees to be interested in filling out your survey, you must affirm you are interested in them: in their opnions, motivations and in how survey outcomes could affect them. Make sure your messages that use a personal tone, and link messages to a personal motivator (whether that would be increased benefits, more company stability, chances to develop and improve, or whatever metric you believe would appeal to that individual). When you highlight tangible, personal benefits to the employee, that’s an instant attention-grabber. Showing you value their time is a start: don’t forget to include information on how long it should take to fill the survey out, and on the survey-completion deadline.
4. Cut through the noise
Sit down with your corporate communications/content teams to come up with emails/texts/memos etc. that will stand out among the likely flood of communications your employees receive. Think about good design and energetic copy. As essayist Reuven Gorsht advised in Forbes, “The typical corporate communications for employee surveys are usually standard, dry and repetitive. Emails with subject lines such as ‘let your voice be heard’ or ‘make a difference’ usually fall on deaf ears and will garner a minimal response.”
5. Take your leader to them
Have the first message announcing the survey come from the CEO, and if you can personalize it as a message to each employee, all the better. Have your CEO stress how important this survey is in making the company better, and how much leadership appreciates survey participation.
6. Bring the fun, if you can
If at all possible, be lighthearted (but firm) in sending survey requests and reminders. Again, the key is to get legitimate buy-in but not be so coercive as to coax a cursory (and inaccurate) set of responses.
7. Thank and reward
Don’t forget to thank your employees, both at the end of the survey and via email/text, for completing it. When you thank them, reiterate why the survey is taking place and how important it is to register their views.
Try to think of clever, non-monetary incentives (that won’t compromise anonymity) to reward survey takers. We’ve seen clients send humorous company-created videos to survey completers (a move that also increased buzz around taking the survey). Quizzes and games at the survey’s end also might be good reward options.
Beyond the first communication
While these are all very effective methods to motivate your survey takers, keeping them motivated for surveys to come is another matter. There’s really only one way to do that: Show your employees that you’ve heard them by doing something about the significant issues they raise (especially if they concern your business’s strategic goals). When employees know that their feedback has an impact, that means you’ll get better feedback, a better culture, and a better business as a result.
More CultureIQuarterly Q1 reports on Survey Insights & Best Practices