Most businesses understand that high employee engagement corresponds to better productivity, lower turnover, and improved profitability. According to Gallup, engaged teams are 21% more productive and 23% more profitable with significantly lower turnover than their less engaged counterparts.

However, gauging genuine employee engagement and motivation can be trickier than you think. You may spend a lot of time developing a great employee survey, only to receive a tiny percentage of completed surveys after sending it out.

Improving employee survey participation is essential to getting a genuine understanding of how employees feel about their company.

Even the act of sending out a survey can increase engagement and morale. Implementing methods to increase employee survey participation rates can help you get actionable data that spark positive change in the company while fostering happier employees. Let's explore some of the best ways to increase employee engagement survey participation.

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1. Use anonymous employee surveys

Employees often express concern about giving constructive criticism to their managers, especially if the organization hasn't implemented a feedback culture. Many fear retribution that can create a hostile work environment and lower their morale and engagement.

Anonymous employee surveys make it easier for individuals to give honest feedback on what they enjoy about their jobs and what they think could be improved. It's important to let employees know that their responses are private and anonymous.

Many employees assume that their responses aren't private if they complete them on a company computer. Some will avoid taking the survey completely, while others will only provide answers they think their managers want to hear.

Expressly anonymous surveys often increase survey response rates, as participants feel safer and more comfortable when answering their questionnaires.

2. Send regular pulse surveys instead of yearly

Getting your right survey timing right can be an art form. Constant surveys may get annoying, especially if they disrupt an employee's workflow.

Similarly, surveys that are sent too spread apart may feel disingenuous rather than a sincere effort on the part of HR leaders to understand their employees.

A good idea is to use a combination of shorter surveys on a weekly basis together with longer surveys at the end of every quarter, for example.

At Officevibe, we recommend sending out short, two-minute Pulse Surveys at the end of the week. These surveys are a great way to measure the current mood without disrupting employee productivity.

Product shot of Officevibe pulse survey
Pulse surveys measure employee engagement without disrupting workflow.

3. Communicate the value and importance of engagement surveys

Simply dropping a survey on employees and expecting completion is a foolproof way to get a very low survey response rate. Employees may not understand the purpose of the survey or get frustrated at the abrupt new task added to their to-do list.

Making a formal announcement about the survey's purpose, deadlines, and anonymous features should be your starting point when introducing a new survey. You can also reinforce the importance of the survey during:

  • Company-wide meetings
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Internal communications
  • Survey reminders
  • Team meetings

4. Keep surveys short and to the point

Answering a long survey takes time and energy, which can lead to survey fatigue. Keeping the survey length manageable is a key component of a high survey response rate, especially if you use pulse surveys regularly. It also helps you narrow down the survey's focus and makes sure that you ask relevant questions that lead to actionable information.

It's also good to keep the same questions during short pulse surveys. Since employees know what to expect, they're more likely to complete the survey, and you'll also get higher-quality data and more useful trackable metrics.

5. Use open-ended questions

The type of survey questions you use depends largely on the data you want to collect. Pulse surveys do well with simple yes/no questions or ranking (scale of 1-10) questions, where employees don't need to craft long-form answers that can be more time-consuming. The information obtained from these questions is simpler to track and measure as it's easier to quantify instead of answers from longer survey questions.

However, if you want to make sweeping improvements, it's worthwhile to include longer, open-ended questions that encourage higher-level feedback.

For instance, asking employees if they're happy with their office environment (yes/no question) will identify a general satisfaction trend. But if you want to dig deeper into what employees enjoy about their workspace or what they would like to see improved upon, an open-ended question will produce more actionable answers.

You might ask the following question: "What could senior leaders and managers do to make the workplace more inviting?"

6. Create a culture of feedback

Feedback culture refers to a company culture where everyone can give and receive feedback without fear of retribution.

The main goal of feedback culture is to move away from uncomfortable power dynamics that often occur in large companies. This stratification leads to situations where senior leaders may not understand the company's employee experience, while employees don't understand the reasoning behind certain decisions.

Miscommunications can often lead to decreases in employee morale and engagement as well as out-of-touch decision-making by senior leadership.

Creating a feedback culture requires an investment of time and effort from HR teams, senior management, line managers, and employees.

However, having employees who are comfortable giving feedback will increase survey participation and promote higher overall employee engagement.

7. Share survey results

Regardless of whether your survey responses are generally positive or negative, it's vital to share them with survey participants and company leaders.

Sharing survey results with the company's upper management shows employees that their managers take their employee survey responses seriously.

Sharing results also includes action plans and feedback implementation, which will encourage further employee feedback and increase employee survey response rates during the next round of questionnaires.

Share survey results with employees to have two-way conversations.

8. Act on employee feedback and pulse survey results

The goal of employee engagement surveys is to evaluate employee engagement levels and find out what isn't working as well as it should. The feedback you get from open-ended questions can support subsequent action planning to increase engagement and employee satisfaction.

The more your employees see that you're willing to take their ideas to heart, the higher the response rate to the next round of employee engagement surveys. Survey respondents will also be more likely to provide higher-quality, honest survey data if they know their input matters to managers and leaders.

9. Make surveys easy to complete

Long surveys with multiple open-ended questions can be emotionally and mentally draining, especially if you hand them out at the end of the week. Even simple things, such as having to sign into a new app or create a new account to complete a survey, form barriers to accessibility and tank employee survey participation rates.

One way to make employee surveys easier is to stick to the same engagement survey software that plugs into your current employee platform. Simplifying accessibility will do wonders for your employee survey participation rates and lead to higher quality data.

10. Send creative reminders

While an employee engagement survey is important business, many employees respond well to a bit of fun or whimsy in email reminders. Adding some creativity can make these reminders stand out from the dozens of notifications employees get daily and may even make them look forward to their next engagement survey.

11. Let people know the length of the survey in advance

Letting employees know the length and complexity of a survey can dramatically increase employee survey participation. They can plan adequately and incorporate the engagement survey into their schedule, resulting in their full attention and a higher completion rate.

A good way to let employees know about this is to add a simple disclaimer in their reminders, like "This survey has 10 short questions that should take approximately two minutes to complete."

It's important to note that a time disclaimer may put some people off taking longer surveys, as they may not be able to allot the time needed. If you notice engagement survey response rates dropping after adding a survey length disclaimer, consider fewer questions or a shorter survey to improve employee survey participation.

12. Use a dedicated employee survey tool

Creating an employee engagement survey takes time and effort, and you want to get the most out of your investment. Using an employee engagement tool like Officevibe can help large and small companies use employee surveys to improve employee engagement and motivate employees. By keeping employees engaged and motivated, you can tap into your workforce's true potential.

Officevibe is a comprehensive employee experience platform that uses a range of employee engagement surveys to monitor employee engagement and satisfaction.

In addition to our pulse survey tool, one-on-one meeting tools, and other employee feedback features, the platform measures key metrics, allowing you to evaluate the success of your employee engagement interventions.

If you want to know how your employees really feel about your company, check out how Officevibe can provide the perfect survey tool for your office.

Equip HR and managers with tools to engage, recognize, and drive performance.