When is the Best Time to Send Employee Surveys Out?

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Performing regular employee surveys is one of the most effective ways to gain insights from your workforce. When you utilize tools guided by experts in psychology, your business has the opportunity to better understand the challenges and drivers that influence your operations. Indeed, creating a strong strategy that utilizes a range of anonymous survey channels creates more agile and relevant intelligence gathering to help you achieve a variety of goals.

However, if you issue these tools to your employees at the wrong moments, you may negatively impact your workers’ engagement with the process. As such, your ability to gain the most valuable intelligence requires you approach the process mindfully.

Let’s take a moment to dive a little deeper into this issue. When is the best time to send employee surveys out?

Consider the Intentions

One of the main influencers of your timing should be the intentions of the survey. After all, you’re expecting not just to gain information but to be able to use this in a specific way. Therefore, it’s important to plan your approach to best service these expectations. This includes looking at when you can issue the surveys on a timeline that allows them to have a genuine impact.

To illustrate this better, it can be wise to look at some examples of surveys, their intentions, and how they relate to timing.

New Hire Engagement

The first weeks and months of an employee’s time with your business have a crucial influence on their experience. During this time they get to forge relationships, engage with the culture of your business, and gain a grasp of your company’s unique working processes. As such, you’re likely to want to use surveys to assess their progress and identify any hurdles. The intention of this is to learn about the onboarding process from the perspective of employees in real-time so you can make changes where necessary. You can’t achieve this if you simply issue a survey on the first day or at the end of the probationary period. Instead, it’s important to stagger surveys at 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, with each survey asking questions that are relevant to the respective milestone.

Remote Leadership Efficacy

Remote work has become a prevalent part of the business landscape. This is likely to be a new experience for many business leaders and it’s important to understand what they are doing well and what isn’t so effective. Issuing pulse surveys on this subject can provide businesses with employees’ perspectives on the matter. As the intention here is to gain an ongoing understanding of leadership efficacy, the timing needs to reflect this through issuing surveys regularly and consistently. When the transition is new, it can be wise to send these out within the first month. However, once solid remote protocols are in place, it can be more practical to issue surveys quarterly.

Return to the Office Readiness

As restrictions from COVID-19 have eased, many businesses are considering bringing remote employees back to the office. The intention of a survey here is to understand whether your workers are prepared for the move, any concerns they have surrounding the idea, and identify any challenges you need to address. As such, it’s important to issue surveys well in advance of the suggested transition date. The best time to send this type of survey out is likely to be 3-6 months before the shift. This gives you space to analyze the results and have further discussions with workers about how best to move forward. 

Workplace Diversity Intelligence

Maintaining a diverse workforce is not just an ethical imperative, but it also influences an inclusive culture and potential innovation. Issuing surveys on this subject is intended to establish your workers’ perspectives on how diverse the workplace demographics and opinions are, alongside viewpoints on inclusivity, equity, and belonging. Naturally, this is not a one-and-done situation. Surveys on this subject should be issued regularly to assess the development of your culture and employees’ ongoing experiences. Therefore, it’s usually wise to send out employee diversity surveys at least annually. This gives your business time to fully assess the results, strategize with various departments, and make meaningful changes.  

Review Employees’ Activities

The timing of your surveys can’t just take your wider intentions into account. You also need to consider how surveys are likely to fit into the minutiae of employees’ working activities. If you issue a survey at a point that is disruptive, you’re less likely to get the full attention and cooperation of your workforce. Remember that the quality of responses is vital to the success of your surveys, so making certain your workers get them at a convenient moment can be crucial. 

Some aspects to consider here include: 

Time Commitment

Different types of surveys require varying levels of time to complete. This is likely to impact the time you send these to your staff to ensure they’re able to commit their full attention to it. For instance, while a shorter pulse survey may be achievable if you send it on a Friday afternoon, a longer engagement survey is unlikely to be practical. Indeed, workers are likely to wait until after the weekend, if they take the time to complete it at all. Issue surveys on a schedule that reflects the commitment required. Indeed, it can be important to communicate to staff how long you expect the survey to take so they are able to make appropriate arrangements. 

Engagement

It is unlikely that your employees will have a single consistent level of engagement throughout the week. It is natural for workers to have peaks and troughs of energy levels and connection to your business. The last thing you want is to issue surveys at the times of the day, week, or month your employees are least engaged. Speak to department heads and team leads to get a better understanding of when employees are likely to have the energy and motivation to apply themselves to a survey.

Workload

Your employees work hard and they are likely to have a significant amount of work to achieve. When a survey is issued at a time when workers have a lot on their plates, you’ll tend to find they consider this an additional unnecessary burden. The result is they’ll either deprioritize completing it or only pay lip-service to completing it. As such, you should be mindful of any large projects and avoid sending surveys during crunch periods. Sometimes this will be unavoidable. In which case, it can be wise to work with team leads and department heads to schedule times for workers to complete surveys away from their normal duties.  

Wrapping Up

Pinpointing when is the best time to send employee surveys out isn’t as simple as suggesting 3pm on a Monday. There are various factors that go into establishing the moments your employees are likely to engage with the survey and your business can gain the most actionable results. Consider how the intentions of the survey impact the time or frequency with which they’re delivered. Review how you can mitigate the potential for negatively disrupting your workforce. It takes some strategy and research, but it’s worth dedicating the time to ensure your surveys are effective for everyone involved.