How to Drive Participation in Your Employee Survey

Drive Participation in Your Employee Survey
Drive Participation in Your Employee Survey

Workplace studies have shown over and over again the value of conducting regular employee engagement surveys. However, one of the common issues with using traditional 360 feedback is getting actual participation from the employees themselves. There’s an old saying that goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” This is what it feels like in human resources when you go through the efforts of trying to improve engagement levels by conducting surveys, but you cannot seem to get employees to give their feedback. It can become a highly frustrating scenario.

The struggle to get employees to participate in 360 feedback surveys is real

There are a number of reasons why employees hesitate to participate in traditional employee surveys. Oftentimes there is a lack of trust. Employees believe that if they say something potentially negative about the company or their manager that their job could be in jeopardy. There’s also the misconception that HR has access to specific answers that employees have given, which just enhances this fear and lack of trust.

Another reason that employees don’t participate in 360 degree surveys is because they don’t understand what’s in it for them. They think that the employer is using this information to make things harder for them or even to eliminate certain departments. But we know in human resources that none of this is true.

How to promote employee participation in employee feedback surveys

There are some ways to increase participation with employee engagement surveys by using the right approach and the right solution. Here are some suggestions to drive participation with employee feedback systems.

Give the Reasons

Employees must be made to understand that there are good business reasons for participating in the employee engagement survey process. It’s important to be transparent and share these reasons with employees from the start. Be clear when stating these reasons so that there are no misunderstandings on behalf of employees. For example, you may want to just let employees know that your company is making an effort to make the experience much more positive for everyone and so it is in their best interest to participate.

You will also want to dispel any fears at this time by stating that all answers are 100% confidential and that no names or other identifying information will be gathered. Encourage employees to be part of improving things by sharing open and honest answers on the feedback system.

Highlight the Benefits

Sure, it’s one thing to talk about how the company will benefit from the survey, but how do you make it known that employees benefit from this too? First of all, keep things light and fun in the days leading up to the survey invite. Give employees incentives to participate in the employee engagement feedback process. Keep these incentives based on work-related benefits such as learning opportunities, management interventions, and improved working conditions. Also focus on tangibles such as more favorable work environments, better benefits and compensation, and career advancement for employees.

Another key benefit to include is the ability to communicate directly with human resources and other decision-makers to be heard and taken seriously as an employee. This can give employees a chance to be part of the overall improvement of things. This can be a very powerful as an incentive to participate in a 360 feedback campaign.

Emphasize Obligations

In order to get employees on board with taking employee surveys, it is important to also get leadership involvement. Emphasize to your leaders how important it is that employees participate so that you can get timely and accurate information to take the correct actions to improve the workplace. Have managers hold employees accountable for taking the survey in a reasonable amount of time.

Again, you will want to make sure that employees know that they are part of the bigger picture and that their feedback is extremely valuable to the company. When you show employees that you care about what they have to say, they have a vested interest and obligation to participate.

Find out how to drive participation in your employee engagement survey by contacting Thymometrics; email, call +1 646 760 9323 (US) or +44 (0) 1223 750 251 (Europe) or visit

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About the author

David Godden

An online marketing entrepreneur with over 18 years experience in the high-tech sector, specialising in HR SaaS solutions. Responsible for the marketing success of several US and European-based start-ups and the international launch of ExactTarget, Pardot and eTrigue.

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