Team Management

How to Get Your Employees to Actually Respond to Surveys

Vipul Chhajer Product Manager, Gusto 
artificial intelligence accounting

Feedback is key for small businesses. In fact, companies that ask their teams for feedback have higher employee engagement—and turnover rates that are 14.9 percent lower than those that don’t.

The hard part? Getting employees to actually share their feedback.

Here are some tactics to increase your survey participation rate at your small business.

1. Communicate the importance of giving feedback

Let your team know that their feedback is critical to improving the workplace and making their voices heard. Reach out to them on the day the survey launches and ask for their help in giving feedback. Explain what exactly what will be done with the insights—along with a timeline for what will happen after the survey wraps up.

It’s also important to send reminders to folks who haven’t filled it out. Many survey programs do this automatically, but you can also do it the old-fashioned way—through email, Slack, or in a team meeting.

2. Emphasize that their responses will be confidential

Some people may feel uncomfortable giving critical feedback about their jobs. In fact, staying anonymous is usually one of the top concerns employees have while filling out a survey.

If you use a tool like Gusto, remind them that their feedback is completely anonymous. Or be sure to find a program that allows you to aggregate responses in a similar way.

3. Lead by example

When you submit your own survey response, send a note to the team that you’ve completed it and encourage others to do the same. Give your team a specific date for when you want responses in so they can plan ahead.

Use Slack, email, or whatever office communication tool your team prefers. This is quick, easy, and helps motivate others to respond.

4. Share your participation rate and set targets

Share previous participation rates with your team and set targets for upcoming surveys.

Some big companies, like Google, are able to achieve 90 percent participation. Generally speaking, 70 percent is a good target that allows you to hear from most of your team. And when you meet your targets, plan a fun team outing to celebrate.

5. Create an action plan

Once you have results, share it with your decision makers and senior team members first.

It’s useful to compare the data with previous results to see how you’re doing. Then, you can determine what areas you want to focus on improving. Building a concrete action plan is one of the best ways to help you achieve your company goals.

6. Share results and action plans with employees

Sharing results and action plans with employees shows a commitment to improvement and is a powerful motivator for getting employees to participate.

Remember to not let the results lead to finger-pointing, which can discourage your team from responding in the future.

7. Make your employees feel like they’re part of the solution

Your employees are a great source of ideas, so do what you can to help them feel a sense of ownership over the results.

Use the survey insights as conversation starters, and set up discussions that cover the issues you want to explore more. These conversations are best done in small groups—typically six to seven—where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas.

You may also want to consider planning a team offsite to really dig into some of the areas covered in the survey.

8. Celebrate your wins

Share improvements with your team and tie them back to previous actions you’ve taken. This creates a strong reinforcing cycle that can do wonders for your workplace.

Then, celebrate your company successes with treats for the team—cookies, bagels, or ice cream are all solid options.


Ready to get your feedback engine started? Write your survey, follow the tips above, and watch as your participation rate soars.

Updated: November 1, 2019

Vipul Chhajer
Vipul Chhajer Vipul Chhajer is on the product team at Gusto, where he focuses on building things that let every small business become a great place to work. He lives in San Francisco and loves cooking and studying history.

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