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Engagement Planning – Communications

As with all projects, getting messages out to the right people at the right time is so important. In the case of engagement surveying, it can be twice as hard because of the sheer number of people who might be included not only in the survey management, but in answering the survey too.

As we talked about in our engagement planning guide (click here to view), the key to a successful survey is having as many people respond (truthfully!) as possible. Achieving this comes down to how the survey is communicated – is the whole workforce aware of the survey? Do people know what the company wants to achieve by taking the survey? Can we create a sense of excitement around the survey?

To help you get the best return for your efforts, we have created an Engagement Plan which highlights the key steps to successful communications throughout your survey process:

You can click here to download the plan, and this article will go into a little more detail about how we at Best Companies suggest managing the communications before and during your survey. If you’re surveying with us, we will help you in managing your communications out to your organisation, and offer a variety of templates you can use to get your message out there.

What stops employees from responding?

Engagement surveys in any organisation typically come up against three challenges:

  • Employees might not understand why they are being surveyed;
  • Employees might not believe their responses are anonymous;
  • Employees might not believe anything will be done with the results.

These concerns can derail your response rate and cause problems post-survey as you may not have the full picture of engagement levels from across the workforce. Additionally, if your organisation is being considered for a Best Companies accreditation or The Sunday Times Best Companies list, you may find your organisation ineligible if your response rate is too low.

Communicating your survey effectively prior to it being launched will have a marked impact on your response rate, so let's take a look at some of the key steps, and where your communications can have a positive impact on these employee concerns.

Announcing your survey – 5-6 Weeks before survey launch

This will likely be the first time that anyone in the organisation hears about the survey, so it’s important to get this right!

We recommend approaching this in two steps:

  • Step 1: Announce the survey to the managers of the organisation;
  • Step 2: Announce the survey to the rest of the organisation.

Why managers first? They are an effective way to cascade messages throughout the organisation and create buy-in to the survey. It's therefore important that they understand how their role impacts the success of the survey. If your organisation wants to make improvements after the survey, managers will also be essential for this too so it’s best to keep them clued up from the start!

Ideally, they should be made aware a fortnight before the survey is announced to the rest of the organisation. A simple communication might be enough, but bringing the management community together generates excitement and enthusiasm about the survey. Are there any dates in the diary that already lend themselves to this kind of announcement?

Four weeks before survey launch is the time to announce the survey to everyone else, and for maximum impact this should come from your organisation's leader. This period provides time for your managers to talk through any questions or concerns with their people. Remember, the main focus of these messages is why - Why has the decision been made to run this survey? How does it fit into the wider organisation’s strategy? What are the key dates? What actions will be taken after the survey? Imparting this understanding helps to counter the issues we referred to earlier, and offers the opportunity for employees to voice their concerns.

Lastly, we recommend a final message from your leader a week before your survey launch date to reinforce the messaging so far. This also serves as an opportunity to respond to any trending concerns that might have come up since your first announcement, and to provide more detail around the logistics of the survey: how will the survey be sent to them? What topics will be included in the survey?

Communications during surveys

After the launch of the survey, we encourage sending reminders out to increase your response rates. Employees should feel they have the option to respond, and encouraging them to do so for their legitimate interest is your key message here. Once again, offering opportunity for employees to voice concerns about anonymity and responding to these with care will go a long way to bolstering response rates.

Remember that incentivising or pressuring employees to respond to the survey will have a negative effect on your results, and if you’re working with Best Companies it could also mean that your company is disqualified from being considered for our accreditation and The Sunday Times Best Companies list.

One of the ways we can help at Best Companies is giving you the opportunity to donate to charity for every completed survey. Not only does this help drive your response rate higher, but it also reinforces an employee’s perception that their organisation gives back to the wider community.

Finally, we recommend that you provide live response rate updates to managers for their business areas, enabling managers to engage with their teams to drive conversations about any lingering reservations they may have.

Survey close – Informing and thanking your employees

Now is the perfect time to reiterate to the organisation what happens next – When will the data be available to the organisation? Who will inform the employees of key results?

Additionally, it’s a nice touch to thank your employees for their responses. Without them, your insight will be less informed and your opportunity for recognition diminished. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, but a great initiative was carried out by The Works (click here to see their engagement profile), who after their last survey sent postcards to all of their employees in stores around the UK. Each postcard included information about their Sunday Times list position, Best Companies accreditation, response rate and commitment to future surveying and change. It might be viewed as a little action that initially doesn’t carry much weight, but it helps to echo the buy-in to the process and reassure employees that their responses will be reflected on.

What’s Next?

These pointers will hopefully get you set to have the best survey experience possible; to be forewarned is to be forearmed!

Moving forward, we will be continuing to break down the engagement survey process in our next article, which will focus on setting up your data. Click here to find out more.

Oliver Stokes
by Oliver Stokes
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