A definitive guide to employee engagement survey communications
Whether it is more regular pulses or an annual employee engagement survey, it is always a big undertaking for organisation. And an essential element to get right is communications. Without clear communication throughout, even the best of surveys will likely fail to yield the desired outcomes.
Having been involved in the planning, running and follow up of hundreds (or maybe thousands) of engagement surveys for our clients, we know what works. And what doesn’t. In this guide we’ll set out advice, best practice and ideas on:
- Survey name & brand
- Pre-survey communications
- Survey launch communications
- Post-survey communications
Engagement survey name & branding
One thing to give some thought to early on is your survey name. You want this to have a brand identity of its own, but to also be aligned with your overall brand, values and language. By creating a name and visual identity that is distinctive, you will help to communicate that this isn’t an HR exercise but rather a more collaborative and inclusive process.
So, what’s a good employee engagement survey name to choose? We’ve included a list of some popular options and ideas (below). As you’ll see, there is a variation on similar themes here but don’t be afraid to deviate from ‘the norm’. What is most important – with both the survey name and visual identity – is that it fits and feels authentic to your organisation.
- Engage with us
- Your Shout
- Your Say
- Your Voice
- Have your say
- Your Opinion Counts
- Every Voice Counts
- Your Voice, Our Future
- Let’s Talk
- Make Your Mark
- Talk Straight
- In Your View
- Talk Back
And here are some examples illustrating some distinctive survey brands used by ETS clients.
The job here is to raise awareness that your engagement survey is coming. You want to build interest, excitement and buy-in. Key to this is telling people, in a nutshell, why you’re running the survey, when it opens and, crucially, what’s in it for them (why they should take part).
When planning your comms strategy, identify your audience groups, which will likely include managers and employees, and tailor your approach and messaging where needed. Think about what each group’s motivation is to participate in the survey. So, for example, explain to your managers how increased engagement could help them lead a more successful team, aiding their own personal development. Gaining their buy will naturally mean they are more likely to encourage their team to take part.
Then consider the best ways to reach the various stakeholders. Are there existing internal communications channels that are well used – i.e. Yammer or a company intranet.
With the aim of raising awareness and encouraging buy-in, some of our clients have tied survey completion to a donation to a nominated charity, offering an added incentive to take part.
Others use employee survey ‘champions’, particularly when launching a new survey or changing their approach. These are a group of people you ask to share information and key messages about the survey with colleagues. While, in the process, identifying feedback or issues from employees and feeding these back.
Idea #1: ENGAGEMENT CHAMPIONS
What makes a great engagement champion?
- Willing & enthusiastic – get the importance of engagement and are keen to help the business improve
- Could be in any business area or at any level
- Knows the business and people in their area
- Is well networked in the business and credible among people in their area
- Confidence to deal with others on the business’ behalf
- Confidence to handle feedback – positive or negative – on the business’ behalf
What might the process look like?
- Provide briefing pack and short training session/workshop for employee champions
- Contact each champion’s manager to gain their support
- Establish point of contact to liaise and coordinate with champions
- Schedule regular meetings to evaluate
Idea #2: INTERNAL MAGAZINE
Another idea we like is from a retail client of ours. As part of their pre-survey push one year, they produced an internal magazine targeted ostensibly at their manager population. Titled ‘Engagement delivers… do you?’ it aimed to further embed the importance of employee engagement within their culture. This featured stories and best practice from top-performing managers about that they have done and what had worked well in their teams.
Slightly more conventional but again geared to the key stakeholder group of line managers. Consider providing them with a briefing pack (or session) offering a sneak preview of the new survey, explaining what it will give them and perhaps showing them reporting dashboards they’ll get to support action-taking.
Idea #3: PERSONAL VIDEO
Ta-da! Ok, video needs know introduction. We all know it is an ever more important medium for reaching people – particularly online. But, done well, it can also be a hugely effective channel to communicate with lots of far flung employees in a personal and engaging way.
Consider using a senior stakeholder (CEO or MD) to front the pre-survey campaign. Get them to record a short ‘talking heads’ style video and have them cover:
- Why the survey is important/tie this to business goals and ‘the big picture’
- How important it is for everyone to have their say
- Set out how results will be used
- Offer reassurance over confidentiality.
In terms of timescales, there is no set rule to how early you should start pre-survey comms. Consider your organisational context and the scale of your survey process. If, for example, you have a large global survey and need to liaise with numerous country co-ordinators or other stakeholder groups in different locations, starting the comms earlier may make sense. For most organisations, comms probably start 4-6 weeks before survey launch but this should be earlier for examples like the one just mentioned.
Engagement survey launch communications
Launch communications don’t need quite the same razzmatazz as pre-survey comms but are of course just as important. If you want employees to take part, that is.
Messaging of launch comms will tend to be a bit more formulaic as the most important thing is to get across several key bits of information to employees:
- The fact that the survey is now open (give the open and close dates)
- Where/how employees can take part (and how long it should take)
- A reminder of why their views are so important
- Further reassurance over confidentiality of responses.
There may be supplementary messages you’d like to include too but these are the essentials to cover off.
In terms of how you do this (channels / mediums), this will depend on your organisation, the most effective ways to reach your people and how employees will be accessing the survey. If you’ve used a CEO video pre-survey, you could have a short follow up to tell people it’s now open. Or it could be just launched by email, with a personal message from the CEO.
If you have lots of front line employees – in stores, warehouses or factories, visually impactful, branded posters for staff areas (with QR codes) are a great way to reach people and tell them the survey is open.
While survey is live
It is great if you can keep the survey ‘on the business agenda’ while it is live. From a communications perspective, one idea we have seen work well include having a survey completion tracker, which shows participation rates between locations or departments. Now, this culturally might not fit well for all organisations and it mustn’t be used to force or coerce participation, but it is worth considering.
It makes sense to think about your post-survey communication in two parts; 1) immediate playback of results and 2) medium-to-long term communications to keep actions alive as part of continuous employee listening programme.
Immediate results playback
The content of these should be pretty formulaic but that’s ok – there’s a reason why this is key stuff to cover:
- Thanking employees for taking part
- Response rates
- Headline findings
- What will happen next (action planning).
In terms of how you play this information back, we always find a visually impactful format works best. A short illustrated, graphical video featuring key messages or perhaps a (static) infographic shared via intranet or email. Again, if using CEO video messages earlier on in the process, you could employ this again here and have them deliver this thank you message and headlines.
Organisations often aren’t very good at communicating initial results or perhaps don’t give this high priority – but it really is a good practice to keep employees in the loop in this way.
Mid-to-long term communication
Beyond the immediate playback, the focus for communications should then switch to the cascade of data down to teams with a view to discussing and pinpointing priority action areas.
Of course, the effectiveness of an engagement survey programme will rightly be measured by outcomes and what positive change it drives. It is possible to overemphasise just how important it is to treat your listening programme as a continual, never-ending cycle rather than a moment in time. As such, communications are key for keeping the survey brand alive in the business, telling employees about changes being made and always linking these back to the survey. ‘You said, we did’ communications are not new, but they are hugely effective as part of an employee engagement strategy that builds strong buy-in.
Another client we worked with – in the travel and leisure sector – did this particularly well. Their survey name and brand featured an echo symbol and they had stickers made up featuring the line ‘Brought to you by echo’. They placed these on items and in office areas that had been addressed following survey feedback. So, for example, when the employees complained about their IT equipment and were given new computers, an echo sticker was then attached!
We hope this guide has give you some ideas and inspiration for creating an effective employee engagement survey communication plan! Please let us know if you’d like to learn more or seek any help with your survey.