How open people are in divulging views on their workplace varies depending on who they're talking to, what their role is in relation to that person, and more. Just ask any CEO who's tried to get honest feedback from employees.
Unattributed surveys, and even some attributed surveys, provide a safe place for employees to share what they're really thinking about their workplace. There are generally three types of communication: pre survey, invite and reminder, and post survey. It is also important to acknowledge the role that confidentiality plays in helping employees feel secure in answering honestly.
Here are a few great communication approaches to get the most out of your employee surveys and ensure that the feedback you get is reliable.
Pre-Survey Communications: Explain Why the Survey is Taking Place
After you've decided that an employee survey is the right step to gathering feedback from your employees, communicate to employees why their feedback is important. You may understand the science of it all, have crafted great employee survey questions, and be ready to send out your survey. However, your employees may have never taken a survey like this before. It’s important to send out pre-survey communications that explain in general what the survey will ask, why it is taking place, and how the results will be used. This initial transparency and communication from you gives people insight into the survey process, which encourages honest answers.
Invite and Reminder Communications: Show a Commitment to Gathering Feedback
It may seem obvious, but in order to get survey results your employees need to know where to take the survey and when they will be able to submit answers. These invite and reminder communications are your chance to reinforce your commitment to gathering employee feedback to take action. An easy way to get honest answers is to provide proof that you are going to do something with the results. Most likely your survey invite will be sent via email, so write in a line that reinforces the “why” of the survey to remind employees that their voice is important.
Post Survey Communications: Share the Next Steps After The Survey Closes
Your action once the survey closes will send important signals to your employees about how you value their feedback. This will in turn impact how likely they are to give honest feedback in future. A great statistic to share in your post-survey communications is the participation rate. You can also thank everyone for their time and effort. Let people know what you will be doing with the results and when they will learn what areas were identified as strengths and where there is room for improvement. This transparency again shows your commitment to listening to employees and will make your next survey even more effective. Don't be shy about sharing results with your employees - after all, it's their feedback, so there are probably few surprises for them.
Confidentiality is Key
In addition to the three types of survey communication, in order to get truly honest answers from people, they need to know that their answers are confidential. When a survey is administered by a third party, employees often feel more comfortable that their answers are being entered on a secure external website, rather than a self-made survey. Whichever method you choose, setting a minimum group number for results (usually 3-5) can ensure that anonymity is protected to a degree.
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