From “what’s for dinner?” to customer service questionnaires, it sometimes feels like we’re constantly answering questions. So when you’re sending employee surveys, it can be a struggle to get the feedback you really need.
You need to think about how to cut through – so your teams know that your questions are the ones worth answering.
If you’ve been sent a survey, started filling it out, and got bored halfway through then you’re not alone. Maybe you gave up, or picked random answers to get it over with – and that’s what survey fatigue looks like in practice.
“Pre-survey response fatigue” is a similar phenomenon, where you’re so tired of being sent surveys that you don’t start it at all. For organisations, both are a problem because quality employee feedback is absolutely crucial for your change-making efforts.
Survey communications are crucial. Before every survey, you should send an email, text, or publish a statement explaining A) that a survey is coming, and B) why it’s being sent. If your employees know that filling it out could lead to positive outcomes for them, they’ll be more likely to do so.
If you’re asking 50+ questions in one survey, you’re making a mistake. There may be a lot you want to know, but few people have the patience to tell you – so cut it way down. Short surveys (>20 questions) get higher response rates and mean they won’t regret clicking on the next one you send too.
There’s one easy way to keep it brief: don’t repeat yourself. “How happy are you?” “How would you rate your happiness level?” “Are you feeling unhappy at all?” – there’s no need to ask the same employee survey question three ways, and it could be confusing – making them wonder if they misunderstood what you were asking.
Stay relevant both to the survey topic (and keeping that laser-focused can be a good idea) and to your organisation and its people. You probably have a rough idea of what matters to your employees, so make sure the questions you ask speak to that.
You might just be sending too many surveys (and yes, surprisingly, there is such a thing). Value your employees’ time, and your own, by picking the right moment. Several times a year, after or before key events – like crisis situations, or structural changes – or at certain times in the employee lifecycle are all good options.
You can reduce survey fatigue by proving it’s worth the effort. That means sharing the results openly, making the next steps explicitly clear, and communicating what’s happened as the result of any initiatives. Show and tell that your employee surveys are designed to drive change.
Want more advice about sending employee surveys? Talk to the team. They’re always happy to help you improve working lives: