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Complete Guide to Running Employee Surveys: Part 2 - Launching Your Survey

In this second blog in our guide to running employee surveys, we cover launching your survey to drive participation rates and ensure good quality data.

In this second blog in our guide to running employee surveys, we cover launching your survey.

(Check out part 1 of our guide - designing your employee survey)

So now you’ve designed your survey, now you need to maximise the reliability of your results by driving up participation rates. The last thing that you need, after putting all that though into your employee survey design is to find that you’re hampered by a lack of participation.

What is a good participation rate for an employee survey?

There are many different views on this, but a variety of sources suggest that over 70% is ‘good’ for an annual survey and less for pulse. However, context is everything and rather than focusing on the number itself, you should really be focused on the things that will affect participation rates.

What factors affect employee survey participation?

Assuming that your survey questions are well designed, the main reasons for poor survey participation rates might include….

A lack of trust in the organisation

If trust is poor, people might not feel safe giving their true opinion on a survey, even if the survey is genuinely anonymous. Just because your response rates are low doesn’t necessarily mean that trust is low, but if it is there will be other signs of it.

Under-communicating the survey

John Kotter, change guru, famously stated that change tends to be under-communicated to the power of 10. His point was that we always underestimate the amount of communication that’s needed. If you’re running the survey, it’s front of mind for you, but not for everyone!

Here's an example of what a video introducing your employee survey might look like:

An example of a video to communicate an employee survey

A lack of visible sponsorship from leadership

Communication is important, but it’s also important to have visible commitment from senior leaders to show that your employee survey is important to them, and not just to HR. That senior sponsorship needs to be reinforced all the way through the organisation, to first-line supervisors.

Survey fatigue / low motivation to complete the survey

Survey fatigue can certainly be a factor, and it can be because you’re running too many surveys. It’s more likely, however, that what appears to be survey fatigue is actually cynicism or a lack of belief that their opinion is valued because of a lack of follow up on previous surveys. If that’s true, it’s acknowledge it and make sure that action is taken.

Technical issues or barriers to participation

Read about: Boosting employee survey response rates with behavioural science Read: 8 Tips for a successful employee survey launch from our client success manager, Jemma.

Why do people fail to complete an employee survey?

When people start but fail to finish the employee survey, it is more likely to be down to poor survey design. Too many questions, ambiguous questions, poor presentation of the questions and, of course, system errors.

Have an end-to-end plan for your employee survey project

It's really important that you don't simply plan to launch your survey, but treat the whole process as a project that includes creating and monitoring action as well as design. If you don't plan in advance what you will do with the results - who will they be shared with, how will decisions be made, where accountability sits for overall success - then you will run into more problems trying to get the attention of key stakeholders and decision-makers and you're less likely to create action.

When should you run your employee survey?

While managers and teams can act upon employee feedback at any time, if the employee survey is seen as a strategic tool, then it makes sense to run the survey so that its results feed into the normal planning cycle. If not, it can be difficult to get leadership team attention, buy-in and accountability for action.

If employee survey results are seen as an important input into the planning process, however, when leaders communicate the results and the main actions or initiatives that they lead to, they are more likely to be front of mind and delivered on than if they sit outside of ‘mainstream’ business planning and review.

Read Part 3: Turning your survey data into insight

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