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4 Steps for Achieving High Employee Engagement Survey Participation

While no one silver bullet will magically result in survey success, Michele Mollkoy offers four steps organizations can take to ensure high survey participation, focusing on communication, skepticism, technology, and leadership.


Thu Apr 04 2024

Assessing Emotional Intelligence Training

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, fostering employee engagement has become paramount. One crucial tool for gauging and enhancing engagement is the humble yet powerful employee survey. However, low survey participation rates often hinder the effectiveness of this tool, and ineffective follow-up can result in worse morale than never doing an engagement survey at all. While no one silver bullet will magically result in survey success, there are four steps organizations can take to ensure high survey participation, focusing on communication, skepticism, technology, and leadership.

1) Communicate Survey Value

The first cornerstone of high participation lies in communicating the value of engagement surveys to employees. This can be done in two ways:

  • Framing:

    Instead of merely stating the survey’s purpose, frame it as a two-way conversation where employees can contribute to shaping their work experience. Emphasize the importance of their voice and how their feedback is valued by leadership and their feedback will be used to improve their experience and create a better work environment for all.

  • Highlight the positive:

    Highlight the positive outcomes of past surveys and how the feedback has led to real improvements. Explain how past surveys have driven positive changes, showcasing specific examples of how their feedback translated into tangible improvements, like policy modifications or resource allocations. Sharing concrete examples of past changes implemented based on survey results demonstrates the tangible impact of their participation.

2) Address Skepticism

Addressing employee skepticism head-on is crucial. Take the following steps to acknowledge and address concerns about the anonymity and confidentiality of responses:

  • Clearly explain

    how the survey data will be analyzed and used.

  • Detail the measures in place to protect employee privacy

    by providing clear explanations about how anonymity is maintained, including details about how data is anonymized and who has access to the results.

  • Consider offering third-party survey administration

    to further alleviate concerns.

  • Explain how responses are used and emphasize that individual responses are not linked to identifiable information

    . If specific examples are shared, ensure they are anonymized and cannot be traced back to an individual. Transparency fosters trust, which is essential for encouraging honest and open feedback.

3) Leverage Technology to Streamline the Process

Technology plays a vital role in making participation easy and convenient. Using mobile-friendly survey platforms enables employees to complete surveys on the go at their own convenience. Additionally, integrating the survey tool with existing company platforms minimizes login requirements and streamlines the process. Here are examples of how technology can simplify the survey process and enhance accessibility, improving participation rates:

  • Mobile-friendly surveys:

    Ensure the survey format is user-friendly and accessible on various devices, including mobile phones and tablets. This caters to busy schedules and allows participation at the most convenient time for employees.

  • Data security:

    Implement robust data security measures in place to ensure anonymity and confidentiality. Utilize secure survey platforms with encryption protocols and explicitly state the organization’s data handling policies.

  • Multiple channels:

    Offer the survey through various channels, such as email, internal communication platforms, or even company intranet portals. This increases visibility and accommodates different communication preferences.

  • Regular updates:

    Keep employees informed throughout the process. Share updates on the survey’s progress, the number of responses received, and the timeline for sharing the results and potential actions.

4) Lead by Example and Inspire Participation

Leadership plays a critical role in setting the tone and demonstrating the importance of engagement surveys. When leaders themselves actively participate and communicate their own engagement with the process, it sends a powerful message to employees. Additionally, leaders can champion the value of employee feedback in various forums and team meetings, reinforcing the significance of participation. Leaders play a critical role in setting the tone and encouraging participation with these behaviors:

  • Visible endorsement:

    Leadership should publicly endorse the survey and actively encourage participation. This sets an example and reinforces the importance of employee feedback.

  • Active participation:

    Leaders themselves should complete the survey, demonstrating their commitment to the process and fostering trust among employees.

  • Addressing concerns:

    Leaders should be transparent about how concerns regarding anonymity or potential consequences are addressed. This can be through dedicated Q&A sessions or addressing potential concerns in communication materials.

  • Communicate the results widely:

    Share key findings and highlight actions taken based on feedback. This transparency fosters trust and reinforces the value placed on employee voices.

By communicating survey value, addressing skepticism, leveraging technology, and leading by example, organizations can turn the tide on low survey participation. By fostering an environment where employees feel valued and heard, organizations can unlock the true potential of engagement surveys and create a work environment that thrives on feedback and continuous improvement.

For a deeper dive into these four strategies, join me at ATD24 for the session Inconceivable! Achieving and Maintaining 90% Participation in Your Engagement Survey.


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