At illumyx, we’re experts at designing effective, high-quality surveys that help businesses understand the challenges and opportunities in their organizations. However, a survey is only as good as its deployment and communication plan. We work closely with leaders, managers, and supervisors to build plans and strategies that drive engagement and participation rates. In this blog, I walk through the steps to building a successful communication plan and provide an example, so you can think about what this might look like for your organization.
Step 1: Consider your employee population
Most companies have two types of workers – Salary and hourly.
Salary employees tend to work at desks and have their own individual workstations, while hourly employees often do physical work like field technicians, construction workers, or floor staff. We find that salaried employees are generally easier to engage in surveys because they sit at a computer all day. It’s easier to send these employees reminders and for them to be available to take a survey. Hourly employees can sometimes be harder to engage because they might not have their own desk or workstation, and therefore need to take separate time out of their day to go to a designated workstation or remember to bring up the survey on a tablet or smartphone.
These two distinct groups need different communication strategies. Start by using the formal communication tools that are already in place like an intranet or all-staff meetings. Next, consider other opportunities to engage staff based on their schedules and workflow.
Step 2: Harness the power of informal communication
From the initial stages of survey planning, illumyx engages a cross functional team of employees to help craft and deploy the survey. This not only results in a better survey, but also helps with the deployment process. Employees who help create the survey are engaged and invested in the process from the very beginning and can help share that sentiment with others.
Employees tend to respond better to new information that comes from their trusted coworkers, as opposed to a standardized message from the top. Employees from the survey team can talk to their peers about the survey and why it matters and drive the informal conversations in a positive direction. Instead of employees feeling like they “have to take another damn survey,” it shifts the perspective to “this survey matters” or “my friend told me to.”
Step 3: Stay disciplined in your communication strategy
The illustration below is an example of how your survey communication plan might look.
- Start by informing your leaders – Your leaders, supervisors, and managers will play a key role in the success of your survey. Make sure you have their buy-in from the beginning and rely on them to have face-to-face interactions with their teams throughout the process. illumyx can provide FAQs or talking points for leaders so they feel equipped to have one-on-one conversations and answer questions.
- Send out an all-company email – About a week before the survey goes out, send an email to everyone letting them know a survey is coming, why you’re doing it, and how employees can participate. Keep in mind that not all employees have emails or workstations.
- Tell your staff about the survey face-to-face – Consider how you might leverage existing staff meetings or town halls to talk about the survey before it starts.
- Survey opens – Wahoo! The day is finally here. Remind people that the survey has started any way you can and ask your leaders to help.
- Personal Face-to-Face discussions – Hopefully, everyone has heard about the survey by now, but maybe they aren’t convinced to do it or need a reminder. This is where managers and the survey team come into play. As we mentioned in Step 2, your survey team can be your best advocates for getting their peers to participate. And managers know their teams’ schedules best, so they can ensure that every employee has learned about and has a chance to take the survey.
- One more week – Send out another all-staff communication and/or print notice letting employees know that they have one week left to take the survey. Sometimes it’s helpful to use participation rates and goals in your communications at this step. Are participation rates high? “Wahoo! Let’s get everybody to do it!” Are participation rates low? “Let’s go team! We can each do our part to achieve our goal.”
- Focus face-to-face conversations in areas that need attention – At this point in the survey, you’ll have some data on participation rates across the organization. There may be areas that you’re noticing need a little more attention. Deploy focused conversations in these areas, whether that be through managers, the survey team, or scheduling time for leaders to engage those employees.
- Last day to take the survey – You’re almost there! Get the word out any way you can that today’s the last chance to let their voices be heard. Double down on the importance of the survey, and mention participation rates again if it feels right.
- Send out a thank you – Whew! You’ve checked the survey off your list and finally have results coming in. It’s easy to skip this step as you delve into the data and what it means for the organization, but don’t do it! Saying thank you is an important part of making employees feel valued and preparing them for what’s next. Follow up on your participation goal and let employees know that you’re disciplined in your communication and committed to improving your organization. It’s better to say thank you early on, let staff know that you’re digesting the information, and will circle back with results and next steps. If you have questions about the results dissemination step, read our recent blog.
An effective communication plan results in a successful survey. Sometimes companies realize mid-survey that their communication plan was lacking and need to quickly adjust to get the results they want before the survey ends. I recommend you don’t do that, and illumyx can help!