The secret to successful employee surveys: Why they fail & what to do about it.

The secret to successful employee surveys: Why they fail & what to do about it.

We’ve all been in that awkward situation.

You got this fancy new tool. It comes with shiny graphs, infinite KPIs and all the bells and whistles. Oh, and did we mention that fancy new feature the sales rep kept dangling in front of you? Sentiment analysis.

You manage to convince your leadership team. It wasn’t easy. It required a lot of arm twisting. By sharing infinite stats about employee turnover, productivity, and incident reports you finally got sign-off!

It leads up to this highly anticipated moment. Your first Survey. You put together the perfect combination of questions, and hit send…

2 days later you're met with an astonishingly low response rate. Wondering where you went wrong. Does this sound familiar?

Fun fact: There are only two parties to blame for this. Your new employee feedback tool or your leadership team. Hint: It’s (most likely) not your feedback platform.

We spoke to hundreds of start-ups and put together:

a) Why you’re not getting the feedback you want

b) 5 ways you can solve this.

Why you’re not getting the feedback you want:

Trust issues: a lack of trust with leadership 💔

It’s important to learn where these trust issues stem from. Conduct a few employee interviews (better yet, let someone trained on this do it for you) and learn what trigger events caused mistrust to build with the leadership team.

It’s common to hear an employee talk about the effort they went through to share constructive feedback, only to have it backfire when leadership reacts negatively.

These stories spread like wildfire across your workforce. It’s important to learn from them and think about how you can rebuild trust.

Employees feel their feedback is being sucked into a black hole ⚫

Put yourself in the shoes of your team. You pour your heart and soul into sharing constructive feedback to improve your company. Only to find that there’s no one on the other side listening.

This builds frustrations, makes your team feel unheard, and similar to Adele, can make your team scream:

If your plan is to simply collect feedback and not reciprocate, you’re almost guaranteeing the funeral for your feedback culture.

How can you create a 360 feedback loop between you and your team?
(We share how you can do this below!)

😵‍💫 The HR Team is too busy

On the surface, it seems easy to send a survey. But when you take a peak under the hood, you find a complex engine, relying on multiple components to function.

A successful survey requires for you to build the right questions, announce the survey to your team, deploy it, remind them with constant follow-ups 🙄, analyze, debate with the leadership team and… finally close the loop.

In start-ups especially, where you’re wearing multiple hats, it’s almost impossible to keep on top of this.

It’s important to find ways you can automate this with the rise of AI (We share how you can do this below!)

🔊 Too much stuff. Too much noise.

Did you know an average employee switches between apps and websites 1,200 times each day? Yes, that says 1200! Over the course of a year, switching between apps and websites consumed 9% of their year. This term has famously become coined as “toggle tax” referring to the time it takes to readjust from focusing on one website, regaining your bearings, and then continuing with a task.

With so much noise, and too many platforms, is it a good idea to add yet another platform for sharing feedback?

How can you integrate the same feedback platform into your team's daily flow of work - perhaps inside Slack?

5 ways you can fix low survey response rates.

Rebuild trust: Feedback is a two-way street

When sending out a survey it involves two parties: Employees & Leadership.

The next time you receive a tough question or feedback, don’t hide it away, take it to the main stage and let leadership discuss this openly with the entire team.

Answering tough questions shows that you are on the same team, trying to resolve challenges together. Meanwhile, it shows your team their survey responses will be answered publicly!

This tells your team “what’s in it for them” the next time they receive a survey!

Example: One company received a concern about wage rises being significantly below inflation. Rather than hide this away from the team and discuss it behind the scenes, they decided to take it to the main stage and discuss it openly with the wider team. This transparency builds trust. Remember, you are on the same side - as a “team”!

Respond to anonymous survey responses:

It’s not always easy responding to feedback. Especially when it’s anonymous and you don’t know who or where it’s coming from. Rather than burying your head in the sand and getting busy looking at fancy diagrams and KPIs you should find a platform that lets you follow up and have anonymous conversations with users on the other side.

Build a system that makes every voice feel heard & valued:

Get into a habit of stepping into your team members shoes and ask yourself “what’s in it for me?”. “Why should I answer this survey or share my feedback?”

For most companies, employees will struggle to find an answer, leading to low response rates. With your company, you have the opportunity to be different by doing this.

1. Let the team know topics will be discussed on the next All hands meeting:

  • Knowing your feedback will be discussed and given attention will motivate your team to take part!

2. Share responses publicly

  • In the run-up to your next meeting, share specific anonymous feedback publicly. This will serve as a reminder that naturally encourages your team to participate.
  • For example: If a colleague says they’re confused about the stock options it could remind another colleague to speak about the next round of funding.
  • Let employees vote on one another's comments to show what they resonate with
  • The number of votes on each comment will help leadership prioritize what’s important to discuss during the next all-hands meeting or town hall.

Let automation & AI save you time:

We’ve all heard how AI is on the rise. We’ve seen people talking to ChatGPT as a therapist and mentors. I’m not advising you to do the same, but I am saying you should be using AI to streamline your day-to-day, so you can reinvest time back where it matters most.

A lot of your time is spent building the right questions, announcing the survey, deploying it, reminding everyone to fill it out, analyzing, and debating with leadership. What if you could automate this entire process?

AI Feedback platforms (like Incognito’s AI Assistant) analyze every feedback you receive, summarize them into key themes and even suggest how you can respond before every all-hands meeting. It takes it a few steps further and even suggests which questions your survey should include!

The only question you have to ask yourself is where are you going to reinvest all the time you’re going to save.

If you want to learn more about this you can set up a free chat with one of our company culture consultants.

Make it easy:

The easier you make something the more likely it is that your team will use it. How about asking your next survey where your teams live and breathe - inside Slack.

Just like a relationship with a significant other, if one side feels they are always the ones sharing their feedback and emotions, and the other side isn’t reciprocating, acknowledging, or even responding, it will make them feel unheard and undervalued. In the workplace, it’s no different. We have to nurture the relationship between Employees & Leadership.

If there’s one takeaway from this article, it should be that a successful feedback platform requires reciprocation from leadership to motivate users to take part.

If the points above resonated with you, check out the Incognito AI Assistant on Slack. It’s designed to create a thriving feedback environment where your colleagues feel safe, heard and valued

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