Ideas for Driving Employee Engagement Survey Participation


Whether you currently conduct pulse surveys, or are considering it, you may have thought about employee participation. How will you get enough of your workforce to participate so that results are true and reliable? 

Well, stress no more. We’ve put together a few effective ways, both physical and ‘psychological’ – if you will – to drive participation when conducting employee engagement surveys:

1. Communicate the value of an employee survey

Employee participation will prove challenging if employees are free to think what they like about it, because truthfully, most employees will be sceptical about this very new, seemingly ‘invasive’ time-waster. To debunk false ideas such as these, honest communication about what the engagement survey means and how it’ll benefit them, is so important. 

The first and most important step is to make the purpose of the survey clear – which will be to benefit employees by giving them a voice – a voice that is vital for management to make sound decisions to improve their working experience at the organisation. Employees also want to know where their feedback will go and how it’ll be used, and they’ll have questions about safety and anonymity which is important to address upfront. Every individual employee should view the survey as a chance to take control of their working experience, and it’s management’s responsibility to help develop this viewpoint.  

2. Prove your intentions

If you’ve conducted an engagement survey before, remind employees of the changes you made as a result of the last pulse survey. This is the most effective way of proving your intentions. As you build up a rhythm, employees will soon see engagement surveys as a regular and reliable chance to improve their working experience. However, demonstrating your intentions ahead of your first engagement survey may be slightly more challenging, which is why communication is of great importance. Be clear about your intentions, press on about benefits to them and encourage your people to ask questions.

3. Make it easy to take

There’s a significant number of survey softwares out there, but don’t be tempted to use different platforms every time you conduct employee engagement surveys. Unsurprisingly, this will cause very low response rates. If you commit to one software/platform, try to stick with it for the long haul as employees are sensitive to such changes, especially when providing private data, and they won’t always be keen to navigate a new system or create new accounts. 

4. Limit the employee survey length

People have short attention spans, and employees at work have little time to squeeze in what they believe may be time-consuming. But keeping it short is not only important for this reason, it’s also important to decide on just a few focus areas, rather than tackle every problem, so that data is easier to manage and take action on at the end. There will be time to give another engagement survey in the near future, hence the word ‘pulse’ surveys! 

5. Tell people how long it will take

When you ask your people to take the survey, lead with a simple statement such as “there are 10 questions, it shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes to complete”. 

Being clear about the approximate length of the survey will definitely bump up your participation rate. Employees know that they can squeeze it in just before lunch, can take the survey in the gap between meetings etc. If employees believe they need to carve out a huge chunk of time to take the survey, they will put it off until they never take it.

6. Send out creative reminders

Get creative and fun with your survey reminders – employees shouldn’t feel afraid or threatened by the surveys, nor their participation in it. Adding a simple gif or a one-line joke in your email invitation can get their attention. One company found that, by injecting some creativity into their survey email reminders, they boosted themselves to a 90% response rate.

7. Put managers in charge

Employees won’t buy in if their managers don’t buy in. If a team senses their manager does not value the engagement survey, they will have far less interest in completing and respecting it themselves. Try putting your managers in charge of survey reminders, and make them responsible for their team’s participation. 

8. Share results

As mentioned, employees want to know where the survey results go, and in addition they want to see their feedback is indeed being valued. To show you are dedicated to the results, share them with your people after the survey closes. Not only will they feel comfortable knowing their voice is being heard and valued and that they didn’t waste their time, but they will feel included and involved in the process from start to finish. 

Physical ways of increasing employee engagement survey participation: 

  • Posters
  • Manager briefings
  • Pay slips
  • Local champions to help engage their team
  • Allowing employees 5 mins before/after shift to complete survey
  • Donation to charity if a specific response rate is met
  • Free lunch if a specific response rate is met
  • Roadshows, town halls and/or events to raise awareness
  • Setting up kiosks with iPads and laptops in shared areas/canteens (with IT support). You could create some theatre around these kiosks by adding balloons and events such as a cake sale

Master Engagement Throughout the Employee Lifecycle