relying on employees' memories

Yesterday I received an invitation to participate in a survey about emails from a magazine publisher. “Sure,” I thought, “I remember the magazine (I used to subscribe), but…I have no memory of receiving emails.”

That made responding to the survey very difficult. In fact, impossible. I closed the survey without clicking one response.

In our research with employees, we’ve found the same thing happens. Employees are asked questions about an employee communication vehicle or topic and they have no memory of it. The result? They leave your survey or pick any answer to move on to the next question.

Here are a few strategies to jog employees’ memories and encourage participation:

  1. Include thumbnails. Visuals are a great way to prompt memory. For example, employees may not remember the official name of the company e-newsletter, but they will remember key visual components. Several survey tools, like Survey Monkey, allow images.
  2. Add details. If your question references a topic or a group, provide specifics or examples. Imagine you’re asking participants about the “senior leadership team;” let participants know who you’re talking about, “senior leadership team, including the CEO and leads for each business unit.” We often include names if the list isn’t too long.
  3. Make it easy to move on. If participants don’t remember, let them get to the next question gracefully by adding exit answers like “I don’t receive” or “I don’t have access.” 
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