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Five Steps to Communicate an Employee Engagement Survey

How well you communicate an employee engagement survey can be as important as the survey itself given that it will affect two key factors: participation and perception.


Before a survey is launched and while it is underway, effective communication is crucial to optimize employee participation in the survey. Following a survey, how well you communicate survey findings and resulting actions is crucial to shape employee perceptions.

Employees want to know the survey was done right, that they were heard and that action is going to be taken.

Following are some tips to help you communicate employee engagement surveys.

Step 1: Ensure Survey Integrity

  • Choose a professional third-party survey administrator with experience formulating good questions and analyzing data. Poorly worded questions can cause confusion and result in useless data.
  • Ensure integrity and confidentiality throughout the survey process.
  • Don’t ask survey questions that the organization isn’t prepared to follow-up on. This erodes organizational credibility and future survey participation.
  • Choose a survey company that has comparative data from other organizations of a similar size or in your industry. 

Step 2: Involve Employees 

  • Position the survey so employees feel like it is their survey. Naming the survey something like “Our Voices” helps employees feel ownership and may boost participation and positive perceptions.
  • Establish a cross-functional employee steering committee to work with the survey administrator and manage the survey process.
  • Appoint survey captains representing every major workgroup in your organization to help administer the survey and to encourage participation. For example, captains might be responsible for distributing control number or paper surveys. Choose survey captains who are enthusiastic about the survey and educate them about the survey’s purpose and importance.

Step 3: Campaign the Survey

  • Create a communication campaign for the survey to get out the vote.
  • Set a participation goal for the survey. The participation goal could be the percentage of the employee population needed for the survey to be statistically valid or to set a new participation record. The goal could be a rally cry. For example, a campaign button that says simply “72%” can generate buzz.
  • Make sure survey participation results are updated in locations where all employees can see them, such as on the homepage of the intranet and on sandwich boards by employee time clocks.
  • Create competition between workgroups (and between team leaders or survey captains) to see who can generate the highest percentage of survey participation.
  • Make sure workgroup leaders visibly support the survey and offer incentives for attaining survey participation goals: “I’ll shave my head if we surpass our group’s participation goal!” or “We’ll have a pizza party for everyone if we meet our challenge!” 

Step 4: Communicate Survey Results

  • Create a communication campaign to communicate the results of the survey to all levels of the organization. The survey findings must be summarized and communicated in a timely manner to the entire organization in clear and simple terms. Failure to do so will damage organizational credibility and future survey participation.
  • Provide leaders with information specific to their workgroups so they can communicate with their employees in face-to-face meetings, such as town hall meetings.
  • Have leaders celebrate the achievement of survey participation goals with their workgroups.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you think you’ve communicated the survey results too much, you’re probably just getting started. There are a lot of distractions and too often employees say that they participated in a survey but “I never heard anything about it” or “nothing ever came of it.”

Step 5: Take Action and Communicate It

  • Follow-up up on issues uncovered by the survey by developing and implementing action plans. Involve frontline employees in the development of the action plans. Tell employees, “thank you for identifying this problem; now let’s work together to fix it.”
  • Make sure employees know that actions are being taken as a direct result of the survey results. For example, create signage that says: “This breakroom was remodeled as a result of your feedback on the engagement survey. Together, we’re making things better!”

With effective communication strategies behind your employee engagement survey, you can get great participation and invaluable feedback, and you just might boost the reputation of your organization and its leadership in the process.

About the Author

Paul Barton provides employee communication consulting and employee survey administration services. He is the author of “Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Results.”

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