Anonymous surveys provide more regular touch points with athletes so you know how they’re doing, if they feel supported, and what they might need help with. Not only does asking for feedback increase engagement, it helps foster trust and ultimately, improves the athletes’ overall experience.
While the benefits are clear, the successful implementation and effective use of anonymous surveys can be challenging. Athletes are time-poor and already battling technology fatigue with the number of apps and devices they’re asked to use. For an anonymous survey to be completed thoughtfully and on a regular basis, it must be easy and, more importantly, must deliver value to the athlete. When they feel heard and see how their feedback drives action, athletes will be more likely to engage with surveys.
Based on our work with high performance sports organizations and collegiate athletic departments around the globe, we’ve compiled some tips for effectively using anonymous surveys to improve the athlete experience.
Work Into Existing Habits
The less behavior change you have to introduce, the better. Deliver the survey within a mobile-friendly app your athletes are already in the habit of using on a regular basis.
For example, Pulse surveys are integrated with Teamworks Hub, an app athletes depend on everyday for team communication and scheduling. Delivering a notification via this app and allowing them to easily complete the survey on their phone removes friction from the process and helps athletes easily provide meaningful feedback.
Respect Their Time
For regular surveys (weekly/monthly) – keep it short. Five questions or less is ideal. Short anonymous surveys sent throughout the season about the facilities, coaching and support staff, academic/educational resources, and other aspects of the athlete experience can help you effectively gather real-time information and track trends over time.
Key to keeping a survey short is not asking questions you already know the answer to. Because generic survey platforms don’t integrate with your team roster, they require athletes to enter information the team already has. In contrast, a specialized anonymous survey system like Pulse hooks into your team roster and lets you focus on the most valuable questions, speeding completion and improving completion rates.
Lastly, instead of dedicating time during team meetings to have your athletes complete the survey, allow them to submit feedback at their convenience. Set a reasonable expiration date for completion and help them remember to do so with automated reminders. When they’re able to complete it on their terms, the usefulness of the feedback will be higher.
Close the Loop
When an athlete knows their feedback is being heard and acted upon, this builds trust in the program and the people running it and makes them more likely to engage with future surveys.
With an app like Pulse, athletes can still remain anonymous while getting direct responses to their feedback. For example, if an athlete complains about the sad state of the locker rooms, a staff member can easily respond to thank them and let them know it’s being looked into. Going further, some schools host town-hall style sessions where select feedback is discussed and the actions being taken to address it is highlighted.
What’s most important is that action be taken where possible – even when things may be out of your control. For example, at one of our collegiate clients, several members of a team were having issues getting their meals because the dining hall closed before their practice ended. Once the coaching staff was made aware of this, they contacted food services to request the preparation of to-go meals that the athletes could pick up after practice.
For those situations where there truly is nothing you can do, communicating back to the athletes that you’ve heard their feedback, attempted to address it, and the reasons why you’re not able to do anything will help you build trust and keep them engaged.
When organizations are able to work anonymous surveys into the athlete’s current habits, are respectful of their time, and close the loop, they can have a significant impact on the athlete’s experience. To find out more about how your team can benefit from Pulse anonymous surveys, check out https://www.teamworks.com/pulse.