Preparing for Your Employee Engagement Survey

April 10, 2018 in
By Will Haller, Jessica Dzieweczynski

This month we’re focusing on resiliency and engagement, two characteristics that are critical to organizational and individual well-being and performance and which share interesting connections. Last week we introduced and explored resiliency, and now we’re turning our attention to engagement. Over the next two weeks, we’ll explore how to prepare for and communicate engagement surveys, what to do with your survey data, how to involve employees in identifying actionable solutions, and how action planning can enhance engagement. Finally, we’ll come back to how understanding and helping to grow a more resilient workforce can impact your organization’s engagement. This post will discuss the best ways to prepare for and communicate an engagement survey.

What do the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Hyatt Hotel Corporation have in common? Although these organizations differ in their mission, size, and sector, both consistently rank as organizations with high levels of employee engagement as measured by their respective employee engagement surveys, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS)[1]and the Gallup Q12[2]. Does your organization have a strategy to understand employee engagement and take meaningful action on survey results? Read on to learn tips for the first step in this process: planning for and communicating a survey to understand engagement levels across your organization.

Planning for Survey Administration

In the federal government, springtime marks the start of the employee engagement survey process, with agencies preparing for the administration of the FEVS which launches between May and June each year. Although FEVS administration is handled centrally across the government, there is still a lot that individual agencies can do to communicate the survey, bolster response rates, and ultimately increase the validity of their survey results. Similarly, in the private sector, engagement surveys are often administered on an annual basis; while survey launch communications may be handled by a survey vendor, a comprehensive communication campaign should go well beyond these basic messages.

Regardless of what sector you work in, planning and communicating about your engagement surveys is a valuable and often overlooked part of the engagement process. It is important to develop a communications campaign well in advance of the survey administration. If you are reading this and haven’t developed a plan to communicate a survey to your organization, don’t panic! We’ve provided key components and tips for a successful survey communications campaign below.

Pre-Survey Phase

Survey communication doesn’t just begin at survey launch! Rather, you should begin communicating the survey at least 3-4 weeks before survey administration. The following methods can help prepare employees for an upcoming survey.

  • All-Employee Advertisements: Provide an exciting introduction to the survey and include a preview of the survey timeline and next steps. This is a great opportunity to spotlight organizational changes that have occurred as a response to previous survey results; this helps to reinforce the message that employees’ opinions really do matter and can lead to real change in the organization.
  • Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ): Post general information about the survey and how it impacts the organization in a medium that all employees may access (e.g., website, newsletter).

Announcement Phase

Ongoing communication while the survey is open, coming from multiple communication channels, will help to maximize survey responses and ensure your results are representative of the broader workforce.

  • Email Invitation: Usually, employees are invited to participate in the survey through a formal email invitation. Key messages that should be communicated in the invitation include the purpose of the survey, how long the survey will take to complete, due date, confidentiality of responses, how results will be used, and a point of contact for questions.
  • Leadership Talking Points: Provide talking points for your leadership, managers, and supervisors to discuss the survey, encourage participation, and reiterate the value of employee feedback with their staff. These messages can be shared with employees in all-hands meetings, team meetings, or individual supervisor check-ins to emphasize that management supports the survey process and takes employee feedback seriously.
  • Weekly Reminders: While the survey is open, provide weekly reminders to all employees about the survey. If possible, include the current response rate in comparison to a goal to motivate employee participation. Some organizations further encourage participation by offering incentives (e.g., a pizza party) to the office that has the highest participation rate.
  • Calendar Invitations: Utilize calendar invitations to block time for employees to take the survey. We can all get consumed with our daily work responsibilities, and making space on the calendar is a great way of helping employees carve out the time needed to participate in your survey.
  • Email Signature Block Reminders: Create a signature block template that includes a reminder that the survey is open and that employees’ opinions matter; provide this to managers to include as part of their email signature. This method provides a small reminder of the survey every time an employee receives an email from a manager.

Post-Survey Phase

Just as communication should start well before survey distribution, it also shouldn’t end at the close of the survey. In fact, keeping employees updated about the results of the survey is one of the most important factors for ensuring that employees perceive value from the survey effort.

  • Thank You Message from Leadership: Draft a message that will be sent from leadership to thank employees for participation, communicate the final participation rate, and provide information about when the results will be shared with the workforce.
  • Survey Results Presentation: Last but definitely not least! The most critical factor to employee buy-in for your employee engagement survey is to actually DO something with the results, and make sure employees know it. A first step in this process is to share the results of the survey with employees. It is important to communicate the results in a transparent and timely manner, highlighting both the strengths and opportunities for improvement.

We hope this post energizes your employee engagement cycle and gives you some ideas that help increase the reach and impact of your survey effort. Stay tuned for next week’s article on understanding survey results titled “Making the Most of Your Employee Engagement Survey: Navigating Employee Survey Results.” Until then, please check out our video on employee engagement.

To learn more about FMP’s employee engagement capabilities, visit our website or email

About the Author: Meet Will Haller! With a background in I/O psychology, Will enjoys projects involving competency modeling, employee engagement, and survey analytics. While his favorite season is Fall, his second favorite is FEVS-season! The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey is an employee engagement survey administered to over 800,000 federal employees every year between May and June that measures topic areas including personal work experiences and work/life opportunities. When he’s not visiting clients or playing on FMP’s softball team, you can find Will on a hike with his new puppy in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo of author and FMP employee Will Haler


[1]OPM Fedview 2017 FEVS Report (

[2]Gallup Q12 Great Workplace Award Winners (