employee engagement survey communication best practices

If you’re planning to embark upon an employee engagement program, you’ll have more to do than choosing survey questions. Creating an effective–and doable– employee communications strategy is essential. Prior to the survey, you should plan to deploy communication that increases awareness and inspires employees to participate. During the survey, you should seek to motivate employees to action within the given time-frame. After the survey period, you’ll want to share what you learned and what you plan to do about it. Here’s how to do it.

Employee Communications

Imagine you’re an employee and one day you get an email inviting you to take an employee engagement survey. You also see a few posters around your office. You ignore both. Then, your boss mentions that participation rates are low and you need to take the survey immediately.

Do you think you would be inspired to action?

The answer for most people is no. You might take the survey simply because you were directed to do so. However, you are not really seeing yourself as an important part of the process. Most likely, your feedback will be surface-level at best.
In order to ensure meaningful participation in any survey project, you’ll need to invest time and resources to properly communicate it. This goes beyond an announcement requesting action. You’ll also need to set the stage so employees understand why the survey is being conducted and what you plan to do with their feedback.

Common employee communication questions

Here is a short-list of some of the questions your employee engagement survey communication plan should be prepared to address:

  1. Why are we doing an employee engagement survey?
  2. I’ve been asked to do other surveys. How does this one compare to those?
  3. What happened to the feedback we gave in the last survey?
  4. Is this confidential? Who will be able to see my responses?
  5. I don’t use a computer at work. How do I take this online survey?
  6. What will you do with as a result of my responses?
  7. How long will it take to complete the survey?
  8. Will I hear back on what I share on the survey?
  9. Can I get the survey in another language?
  10. When do I need to take this?

If you address all of these questions for employees, you will have made a good start! However, there are other audiences you should consider communicating with for your employee engagement survey project. These include:

Leadership–Provided information they need to support the survey efforts, including a short project overview to start and a dashboard of results along the way.

Human Resources–Often, Human Resources sponsors the survey. If not, be sure to prepare them with information to help them be an ally in this important project.

People Managers–Provide more information on the action planning that will take place as a result of the survey since they are often on the front line to carry out the action plans.

Public–If you’re a publicly-traded company, government or other institution, you should prepare a press statement to proactively position the survey effort.

What to Include in Your Employee Engagement Communication Plan

A detailed communication plan during your survey planning phase will help ensure success. Here’s what your plan should include

Survey Details: Identify and document:

  1. Survey purpose
  2. Communication goals
  3. What success looks like, including your goal participation rate
  4. Incentives for participation

Audiences: Determine who you need to reach and their needs:

  1. Employee eligibility to take survey (contractors? New employees?)
  2. Audiences with unique needs, such as: Lack of access to technology, Illiteracy or translation needs and
  3. Shift workers

Key Messages: We’ve covered some of the questions employees might have earlier in this article. Document all of these responses and other important messages into a key message platform. You’ll use these messages consistently throughout the survey process.

Timing: Determine dates for:

  1. Pre-survey communication
  2. Survey start and end
  3. Survey reminders and leadership updates
  4. Post-survey follow-up
  5. Action planning and execution deadlines

Communication Vehicles: Figure out how you will ensure you reach as many employees as possible. Include:

  1. Print–posters, banners, flyers, table tents
  2. Electronic–Email, Intranet articles, web banners
  3. Social–employee ambassadors, affiliate groups, enterprise social media
  4. Ground Game–Onsite events with proctors
  5. Other methods–For example, manager talking points that they can share during meetings with employees

Post-Survey Action Plans: 

  1. Activities that will take place after the survey – action planning.
  2. Communication needed to support those activities

Considering these actions will get you on your way to employee engagement survey communication success!

Get more tips with our downloadable Guide to Employee Engagement on successfully planning, designing and executing an employee engagement program.

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