Lousy response rates on your employee survey? Here’s how the best leaders get great participation every time.
Its that time of the year again. Your company is rolling out the annual employee survey so that management can measure the engagement levels across the entire organization. Yet, with all the costs and efforts to administer employee surveys, the average employee survey response rate is just a meager 30%-40%.
Getting employees to take time to complete the survey can be a challenge for any leader and with the low response rates, data samples tend to be too thin to analyze at a micro-team level.
The first misconception about employee surveys is that it is an initiative driven from the Human Resources department and that ultimately, they are responsible for ensuring a better response rate. This couldn’t be farther then the truth. Employee surveys (and their desired outcomes) are a close partnership between all levels of management and Human Resources, but ultimately management is responsible for driving the success of an employee survey.
So here is what the best leaders do to ratchet up their survey response rates to entirely new heights.
When it comes to achieving strong survey response rates, traditional tactics, such as sending daily reminders or encouraging employees to have “their voice heard” are becoming far less effective. Employees have seen the same approaches being taken time-and-time again and are pretty much sensitized to them by now.
Here are a few of the tactics that will help you “shake things up” and get the attention of your employees:
1. Filter the noise – 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. As a leader, this is an opportunity to connect with your team by ditching corporate cliché words and simplify the message. Make the completion of the survey your own objective for the team, rather than something that is coming down from the top of the organization. Infuse your own style into the message and consider creative approaches such as creating a sense of competition with another team.
2. Articulate Purpose & Meaning – Most employees understand the corporate purpose of an employee survey, but for the same reasons as people choose not to vote in elections, your employees may lack a purposeful meaning of what’s at stake for them as individuals. Your communication should start first and foremost with answering the question “why” and make it about them, not about the benefits that leaderships will gain. Lead all communications with a clear purpose, call and belief that articulates what’s in it for the individual employee and why they should care.
3. Understand Motivations and De-Motivations– A little empathy goes a long way. Putting yourself in your employee’s shoes and having open conversations with members of your team allows you to gain valuable insight that you can use to address concerns and motivate your employees. For example, during a a recent employee survey, we found the following three common concerns that employees had with participating:
- They feel that if they have nothing good to say, best not say anything
- They feel their input won’t make a difference
- They are too busy to find the time
By empathizing with your employees and personally addressing each concern in a one-on-one or a group setting, you may be able to diffuse most concerns, offer solutions and raise the participation rate.
4. Lead by example – Arguably, this is the easiest way to increase participation. As a manager, nothing is more powerful than leading by example. Completing your own survey and sending the team a note that you’ve done so yourself goes a long way in motivating others.
These simple efforts will not only yield better results, but also drive closer engagement with your team to make a difference when working together to improve employee engagement.
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