The Real Reasons Your Employees Don’t Answer Surveys

negative employee

You’ve probably noticed that for years now, a lot of organizations have been asking people to “take a few minutes to fill out a survey.” People are getting hit with it in bookstores, at the end of telecom calls, when they chat with technical support teams online, after they get a haircut —  the list goes on. So it’s no wonder that some people suffer from survey-fatigue. 

Go past good intentions

In a way, it’s understandable. A lot of us are busy so our most valuable resource is time. We want to make sure we use it wisely. Why would we give our time to something that might not benefit us down the line?

It’s the same with employee surveys. When organizations give surveys to employees their intentions might be great. They might want to hear the truth and do their best to make their organization a fantastic place to work for everyone. But, there are a few reasons why employees might pass on the process. Smart organizations address these concerns so they can gather invaluable, honest feedback from their employees.

Top three reasons that employees might not take surveys

  1. Not ‘really” anonymous. A lot of employee surveys claim that responses are anonymous. Results might be confidential, but, if they want to, most organizations that send out and record their own survey results, can find out who said what.

Solution: To reassure employees, organizations are wise to let their employees know that they are hiring a third party to issue and record survey results to ensure they remain confidential. 

  1. Balance of power: If an employee shares negative feedback about their manager in a survey, it may affect their career/work relationship with their manager in the future.  Since the manager has the power to effect an employee’s livelihood, that can be too great of a risk to participate.

Solution: Again, third party surveys might reassure employees that no links can be made to their comments.

  1. No action: If survey results are not openly shared and most importantly, addressed with action, employees lose faith in the whole process.

Solution:  Each time an employee survey takes place, managers need to meet with employees afterwards, communicate all of the results, and ask for suggestions on how to improve and then take action that employees can see.

Take action, show respect, and build trust

According to writer Mark Murphy who wrote an article called, “This Communication Mistake Could Be Ruining Your Employee Engagement Survey,” in Forbes magazine, “When you survey employees, you’re essentially making a promise to do something about those issues.” So it’s very important for organizations to come through on that promise. If they don’t, it sends a message to employees that their feedback does not matter. That does zero to improve engagement.  In fact, it makes sure that employees feel less engaged than they did before they took the survey.

In a way, sending out a survey is the easy part. But if an organization wants to really shine they have to show everyone that they’re using those results to make the organization better. When an organization does that, they build employee trust and employees feel respected and seen; key ingredients for better engagement.

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