Create, send, and track HR forms that drive engagement

Quick and easy hacks for nudging employees to fill out documents and surveys that don’t require follow ups.

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Human resources departments live and die on a steady stream of good data. If employee application forms are hard to fill out, recruitment tanks. When employee engagement surveys get lost in an avalanche of Slack notifications, company culture suffers. Even company off-sites depend on HR for RSVP forms.
Sure, templated HR forms and surveys written by AI can help. But more personalization tends to directly correlate with higher response rates and submission quality. Personalization might be based on data from other forms about employees’ design preferences, real-time updates about who has and hasn’t filled out a survey currently in rotation, or insight into which pages have the highest number of dropoffs.

Ideas for writing and designing more engaging HR forms

The easiest way to increase form completion rates is to reduce the number of questions. That’s not always an option, though. Make an employee onboarding, performance evaluation, or other HR form too short, and you’ll just have to follow up later.
Another strategy is to focus on writing questions that are unambiguous and easy to answer. Experts at Pew Research recommend avoiding double negatives, company acronyms, or loaded terminology, saying, “The choice of words and phrases in a question is critical in expressing the meaning and intent of the question…ensuring that all respondents interpret the question the same way.” Prompts like “Would you agree that you are not unhappy with your current role?" and “How would you rate the SDR team’s overall cultural fit and work-life balance?” could be interpreted differently from employee to employee.
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The layout of HR forms can have a significant impact on the number of responses as well. You might let respondents choose between single-page and one-question-at-a-time forms to provide more personalized, flexible feedback experiences. Or use logic to hide a questions that don’t apply to everyone, like an employee engagement survey that only shows questions about remote work policies to staff on certain teams or projects.
On the design side of things, creating an HR form template that includes your logo, brand colors, and font can have a measurable impact on response rates, with the added bonus of speeding up future form creation. Then, when you’re putting together a holiday party RSVP or other seasonal form, all you’d have to do is add a few questions and a festive background image before customizing your share link and sending it around the office.

Tools for sending forms and minimizing manual follow ups

There will be holdouts no matter how meticulously you write your questions and design your form. Sometimes it’s something that needs a human touch, like an evasive employee. Other times, it’s a technical problem, like a form invitation link in Slack that gets buried under other messages, marked as read and then forgotten, or opened and started but abandoned halfway through.
Sharing forms in chat and other real-time collaboration apps often feels more like an interruption than a polite request or reminder. Email invitations, on the other hand, let employees decide for themselves when and how they respond. Take employee evaluation forms, for example. You want staff to be in the right headspace when filling them out, not rushing through questions so they can get back to what they were doing.
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With Fillout, you can email forms and surveys with unique links for each recipient, allowing you to see who has started, not started, or finished their submission. Just click Send form under the Share tab, paste up to 100 email addresses into the Send to field, add a descriptive subject line and message, and hit send. In a performance evaluation context, that would let you craft two follow-up reminders: one for in-progress evaluations and one for non-starters.
Automatically associating form invite links with recipient emails is also a huge help with applicant tracking. You might disqualify a recruit or extend a deadline based on whether or not their application is in progress or not started at all.
When applicants do hit the submit button, conditional email notifications mean you could create different messages based on specific criteria. If someone applies for a certain technical role, then include an assessment in the notification email. Or an invitation to apply for another open position with similar requirements and responsibilities. Anything that saves you from writing and sending confirmations manually.
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In fact, Fillout even lets you send forms automatically based on certain triggers. Let’s say that you’ve built a custom HR database in an app like SmartSuite or Airtable. You might create a Zapier or Make automation that watches for new employees in your directory, waits 90 days, and then sends them your three-month self-assessment for new hires, in an email.

Strategies for storing, updating, and analyzing HR form data

HR’s work is far from over after forms and surveys are finalized and shared. Securely storing submissions and turning them into actionable insights is half the battle. Apps like OfficeVibe and CultureAmp have made millions giving HR teams high-level views of employee engagement and collaboration. But they’re not much more than well-organized historical data. Anyone who can sync multiple forms to a single database can DIY the same thing.
For example, an HR forms database in Airtable could store everything from electronically signed employee contracts to RSVPs from the company’s last five off-site meetings. With everything in one location, it would be possible to shed light on what day of the week or time of day people are most likely to answer engagement surveys. Or which departments have the lowest response rates.
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An external database is probably overkill for analyzing and optimizing the performance of a standalone form, though. For example, multi-step forms should have data on how long users took to fill it out, which pages have the highest dropoff rates (e.g. the number of users who viewed a page but closed it before responding), and details about what browser or operating system they were on.
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Lastly, giving employees a way to update their responses is critical for HR data accuracy. An update link may not make sense for surveys that act as snapshots in time (e.g. you want to see employee engagement data right after a big announcement, not updated responses from weeks later). But could eliminate a lot of back and forth on application forms, RSVPs, and personnel information. In Fillout, it’s as easy as opening the Settings tab, enabling Respondent notifications, and toggling Include a link to edit submission.

Start building better HR forms

Former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg famously said “The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak.” Software has made it easier than ever for HR teams to listen to employees, with form builders that create simpler, more personalized feedback channels taking center stage.
If you want to improve how you gather, store, and analyze HR data, give Fillout a try today. It might just make your employees feel more heard.
Ryan Farley

Written by

Ryan Farley

Ryan Farley is a writer and co-founder of Pith and Pip. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand where he previously managed the editorial team of a web marketing agency.

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