How to Engage the Workforce with a People Survey

Whether it is a volunteer survey, a staff survey, or a combination of the two, engaging your workforce with a people survey is key.


CEO support

When embarking on a survey it is important that it is seen to be an organisation-wide initiative with the CEO behind it at every step.

One way to demonstrate this to the workforce is to have your CEO write a short note as a forward to the survey, detailing the aims of the survey and how the results will be used for organisational change.

Communication is crucial


Before the survey begins, ensure that the workforce are expecting to be surveyed, what the aims of the survey are, how the results will be acted upon and stress the importance of their input. Explain how the data will be used and be clear about confidentiality and anonymity.

If you are conducting the survey using an outside agent, this will help to ease people’s mind that their responses will be tracked back to them. At Agenda, we use the ‘Rule of 7’ which means that no demographic group with fewer than 7 responses can be reported on.


During the survey – make it fun! Report regularly on the response rates by department (see example below) and create some competition between the middle managers.

response rates table


When the survey has closed, communicate the results to the entire workforce, perhaps an overview of the results for all to read and departmental reports by subdivision. You could even make the whole organisation-wide report available on the staff intranet.

This demonstrates transparency and openness, and reinforces the idea that the survey is not seen as an HR activity, but a part of organisational development.


Look back and review. It is vital that the results of you staff survey are not lost or forgotten. After a period of time, review the results and assess how you have acted on them and moved forward. Staff will be far more likely to engage with your next survey if they can see improvement and change.


Do you have any ideas or advice on how to engage a workforce in an engagement survey?

Do you have any initiatives that have worked well?

We’d be delighted to hear from you!

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