How to Get Employees to Actually Respond to Engagement Surveys
It can be hard to speak up while at work about things that are not meeting your expectations. Or the opposite – activities or good deeds that go unrecognized that you feel should be acknowledged. Therefore, employee engagement surveys can be a useful tool when it comes to seeking an understanding of how the workforce is feeling about the company.
However, sometimes staff members refuse to participate, or the responses are too minimal to turn into action, or so negative that HR feels defeated.
Being strategic about engagement surveys will not only drive up response rates but also provoke the kind of high-quality employee feedback that can be used to drive wanted positive changes.
Employee Engagement Is So Important
Without engaged employees, everything else falls apart. That might sound a little dramatic — but it’s true. A 2020 meta-analysis conducted by Gallup found that employee engagement is linked to several key business performance outcomes:
- Employee wellbeing
- Customer loyalty and engagement
- Employee turnover
- Safety incidents
- Organizational citizenship and participation
- Quality (such as product defects)
- Inventory shrinkage (from theft, damage, or admin errors)
These results make promoting engagement a priority for many companies. But there’s plenty of room for improvement, especially when you consider that only 34% of employees in the US say they’re actively engaged.
While engagement can potentially be impacted by external factors (global pandemics and economic uncertainty, for example), the effects aren’t as extreme as you might expect. It’s better to look inward and consider how HR and leadership can boost engagement and the employee experience from within. The best way to achieve that is with a well-planned engagement survey that encourages a good response rate.
5 Ways to Make Engagement More Engaging
There are so many employee surveys out there in different template formats and with various questions. However, it’s time to also get ingenious in how you initiate your survey in order to increase employee buy-in and transform disappointingly low response rates into something altogether more impressive.
Lattice asked some Flex HR experts about some pointers.
1. Watch your language.
The first step to survey success is ensuring the questions are worded the right way. Use unambiguous and neutral language, asking about things you can actually improve.
2. Keep it short and snappy.
When it comes to survey length, short and punchy pulse surveys are best to boost completion rates. If it’s too long, you run the risk of respondents getting bored and switching off completely. Teresa Monday, director of compensation & senior HR manager of Flex HR, recommends starting a survey with lighter questions, perhaps with multiple-choice answers. “Then have a few pointed questions where it’s open-ended for the employee to engage in their own answers,” she said.
For deeper, less frequent surveys, the ideal survey length is around five minutes. “Attention span for surveys is low — and surveys are meant to keep the one taking the survey engaged,” added Monday.
3. Make it fun.
Innovative ways of delivering surveys and encouraging responses tend to increase employee survey participation and foster the true kind of engagement that helps build a great company culture. Time to get creative HR!
Take Semrush, for example. The team used to send out engagement surveys annually but made the decision to pause surveys for a while as it expanded internationally, and employees were busy with the relocation process. When surveys were relaunched, Anastasia Eliseenko, head of the culture and communications department, decided a more inventive approach was needed. And it involved memes.
“We owe the idea to a genius colleague who thought, ‘Hey, let’s jazz up the reminders!’” said Eliseenko. “That sparked the idea of tossing in a hilarious picture. One thing led to another, and we were hosting a Battle of the Memes before we knew it. We received a flood of entries — 41 memes, including video memes! It was a storm of creativity, and everyone was on board — some were making memes while others were casting their votes. It turned out to be one of the blockbuster activities of this year.”
“Our meme contest was like finding the golden ticket — it became the way to remind everyone about the survey, all while keeping spirits high,” Eliseenko added. “It not only put a spring in everyone’s step but also bumped up our response rate by a whopping 12%! This not-so-conventional tactic was our way to capture attention and loosen up the engagement survey. You bet we’re keeping up this trick for more adventures in employee communication.”
Innovative ideas like this improve response rates. The key is finding a technique that speaks to your employee base. And the best way to achieve that is to ask.
4. Ask the right questions.
Before you even think up the survey ask those on the frontlines of doing the work day-to-day what you could do to improve survey response rates and what would make them participate.
Asking questions about your survey format, communication methods, and length helps you determine why employees may not be responding. As a huge plus, these questions can also help build trust and shape company culture by showing employees that you not only listen to their ideas — but turn them into action.
5. Offer an incentive.
Offering a reward for completing a survey may skew your data, but some companies have made it work creatively by offering incentives that aren’t financial, or by connecting the survey to another competition.
This option can work in some circumstances such as entering all participants into a drawing for an experience prize, rather than a gift card.
Monday agreed that incentives can be effective: “I would think about giving employees an incentive to take the survey — maybe for hourly employees, give them an extra 30 minute break for their lunch or leave early one day. We want their insights, and it is important — let them feel that their feedback is important by rewarding them.”
At Semrush, winners of the meme contest run alongside the engagement survey were offered a prize. “Our meme winners were remote employees, so we gifted them the choice of certificates for either the App Store or Google Store,” explained Eliseenko.
Be Sure To Make Engagement Surveys Anonymous
For the majority of engagement surveys, anonymity is the way to go. Anonymous surveys allow employees the opportunity to truthfully share their opinions with greater transparency. It also reduces the chance of bias (unconscious or otherwise) impacting how their responses are viewed by management or HR.
“There tends to be a higher turnout for taking the surveys and being honest with their employers,” said Monday, who uses anonymous surveys. “Some employees feel if they give constructive feedback [in a non-anonymized survey] that somehow that might be a damper on their employment.”
Allowing employees the chance to share their truthful opinions privately helps boost the feelings of psychological safety that are essential for building a company culture where employees are safe and supported.
Generally, the only time an engagement survey shouldn’t be anonymous is during onboarding and exit surveys, which is another beast in itself.
Turn Results into Action
Creating an engaging survey as well as sending out reminders for completion are two important pieces of the puzzle — but another critical piece is demonstrating to employees that you have every intention of acting on their feedback. When staff can see the visible changes to your organization as a result of their survey responses, they’ll be more likely to keep responding in the future.
Survey results and analysis are not often complicated. Whether looking at cross-sections of specific departments and demographics to benchmarking your results and using visuals to spot trends, make sure that overall you turn your engagement survey results into actions.
Contact Flex HR today.