How to Communicate Employee Engagement Surveys


Employee engagement surveys are an important way for organizations to gain insight into what they are doing well and areas where they need improvement. How well you communicate to your employees about a survey can impact participation and, ironically, even engagement itself. When a survey is communicated well, it creates a positive perception of the organization. However, a poorly communicated survey with poor follow-up can create negative perceptions about a company. Following are some tips to help you communicate large-scale employee engagement surveys.


Ensure Integrity

  • Choose a professional survey administrator with experience formulating questions, and compiling and analyzing data. A third-party vendor will help ensure the integrity of the survey and the confidentiality of the participants. In addition, professional survey firms can offer comparative data to organizations of a similar size, in your geographic area and in you industry.


Involve Employees

  • Establish a cross-functional steering committee to work with the survey administrator and manage the survey process.
  • Establish Survey Captains representing every major workgroup to distribute control numbers and paper surveys, and to encourage participation. Choose Survey Captains who will be enthusiastic about the survey.
  • To the extent possible, position the survey so employees feel like it is their survey, rather than management’s survey. Naming the survey something like “Our Voices” helps employees feel ownership.


Campaign the Survey

  • Create a communication campaign for the survey to “get out the vote.” Incorporate all existing communication channels and consider collateral such as posters, buttons and pens.
  • Set a participation goal for the organization and update the results on a daily basis on a progress chart. The participation goal could be the percentage of the employee population needed for the survey to be statistically valid. The goal can be a rally cry. A button that says simply “72%” can generate buzz.
  • Make sure survey participation results are updated where all employees can see them, such as on the homepage of the intranet and on sandwich boards by employee time clocks.
  • Create a competition between workgroups to see who can generate the highest percentage survey participation.
  • Workgroup leaders should visibly support the survey, and they should offer incentives for attaining survey participation goals. “I’ll shave my head if we surpass our goal!” or “We’ll have a pizza party for everyone if we meet our challenge!”
  • Ensure survey confidentiality and integrity at every step.


Communicate the Survey Results

  • The survey findings must be summarized and communicated to the entire organization in clear and simple terms. Failure to do so will destroy organization credibility and future survey participation.
  • Workgroup leaders should communicate results specific to their respective workgroups during town hall meetings. The results must be communicated to all levels of the organization.
  • If you think you’ve communicated too much, you’re probably just getting started.
  • Celebrate the achievement of survey participation goals.


Take Action

  • The organization must follow up on issues uncovered by the survey by developing and implementing action plans. Involve frontline employees in the development of the action plans. Tell employees, “You identified this problem; now help us fix it.”
  • Don’t ask survey questions that the organization isn’t prepared to follow up on. This erodes organizational credibility and future survey participation.
  • Communicate actions taken by the survey. Make sure employees know that actions are being taken as a direct result of the survey. You might consider using signage to make this point such as “This breakroom was remodeled as a result of your feedback on the engagement survey. Together, we’re making things better!”


With great communication strategies behind your employee engagement survey, you can get great participation and invaluable feedback, and you can boost the reputation of your organization and its leadership among your employees.

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What are your thoughts on these tips? What would you add? What ideas have you seen help make a survey successful? What pitfalls would you recommend avoiding?





Diana Oakes

about 6 years ago

Hi, I agree with the above but i found it interesting to read about incentives for reaching participation goals. In our company we are actually actively discouraging this behaviour, or any hint of 'pushing' people to participate, because the Survey is supposed to be not only anonymous, but also voluntary, and in past years many colleagues have complained that they "felt indirectly - or sometimes quite obviously - pressurised to complete the Survey"... Any opinions on that? Thanks.

Paul Barton

about 6 years ago

Hi Diana, Sorry about the extremely late replay. I think the key is having the employee's feel like they own this survey so that pressure isn't coming from management but from each other. Of course no two organizations are exactly alike and you need to do what works best for yours.

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