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9 Best Ways to Increase Employee Survey Response Rates

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For understanding employee motivation survey response is crucial.

But employee survey response rates are a big pain-point for companies far too often.Many of us glance at the 20-minute timeline and rationalize, “I’ll get to this later.” Later often never comes.

Traditional employee surveys had the bad reputation of being long, dull, and tedious. As a result, the disinterest is reflected clearly in the low survey response rates.

According to Quantum Workplace research, about 2 in 3 employees believe their organizations fall short in effectively responding to survey results

Only 30% is the average response rate despite all the costs and efforts to administer employee surveys.

To ensure genuine feedback, organizations must foster trust, transparency, and open communication. When employees feel valued and heard, they are more likely to provide honest input, driving meaningful improvements and a culture of growth.

In this age of technology, HR teams are coming up with agile solutions to engage their workforce. By far, the most cost-effective tool to know what the people want out of the company is employee surveys.

A simple employee survey can bring forth your current company culture's strengths and weaknesses if done right.

However, the success of any engagement survey depends mainly on the number of participants. The more number of participants means getting accurate survey results that capture diverse opinions.

In this article, we'll be looking at ways to increase your overall employee survey participation rates. So, let's get started.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Importance of High Quality data
  2. What is a good response rate for an employee survey
  3. 9 ways to improve employee survey response rates
  4. Tailoring Surveys to Your Culture and Industry

The Importance of High-Quality Data

High-quality data is essential for making informed decisions and driving organizational success. An organization needs to recognize the drawbacks of inflated or skewed response rates to get genuine employee representation.

Here's why getting good, honest responses from a diverse group of people is so important:

Real Picture, Real Solutions: If we only hear from a specific group, we won't get the full picture. We need input from everyone to see the whole picture and find the right solutions to problems.

Avoiding Mistakes: Using incomplete or biased data to make decisions could lead us to overlook important problems or rather create further problems with people beliveing that their voices have gone unheard.

Building Trust: When people know their voices are heard and their opinions matter, they trust the decisions made by the company or organization.

Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity: High-quality data promotes efficiency and productivity by reducing the time and resources spent on correcting errors and validating information.

Improved Performance Measurement: Nowadays, the entire performance management system relies on data-driven metrics to assess the effectiveness of initiatives, monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), and identify areas for improvement.

Better Customer Experiences: High-quality data enables organizations to better understand their customers' needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Better Decisions: Good data helps in making smarter and more informed choices because we can trust the information we're using.

Growth: With reliable data, we can find new opportunities for growth and stay ahead of the competition.

What is a Good Response Rate for an Employee Survey

Is aiming for 100% participation the ultimate goal? Not quite.

Over the years we have seen that an average response rate for employee surveys typically falls between 60% to 80%. However, this can change depending on factors like the company size, survey topic or focus, and how engaged the employees are with the topic. The most important thing is to ensure that the responses you do receive are genuine and representative of your workforce.

Employee surveys seek to capture insights across your entire staff. The more people that weigh in, the better pulse you gain on collective sentiments.

Yet many companies see just 25-60% of their workforce respond.

For smaller companies with fewer than 50 employees, an optimal target lies between 80-90% participation. Conversely, larger companies may see slightly lower rates, ranging from 65-80% (source- Checkmarket)

If your survey participation falls below 50% it's essential to investigate the reasons behind the lack of engagement among your staff. This situation warrants a thorough examination to identify potential barriers and explore strategies for motivating participation.

9 Ways To Increase Employee Survey Response Rates

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
– Benjamin Desraeli

Boosting employee survey participation is key for understanding staff needs and improving the workplacePeople want to feel comfortable and relevant while taking part in an employee survey. Here are nine friendly tips to encourage everyone to join the conversation and share their valuable feedback.

1. Award Incentives To Complete The Survey

Everybody likes to be rewarded. Employees consider the act of receiving rewards and recognition as being pivotal to their work experience. The act of receiving incentives for taking a survey has two main aims:

  • Firstly, employees feel like their feedback is valuable.
  • Secondly, the incentives inspire more employees to join the survey.

Employees get rewarded for investing their time. Meanwhile, the company receives the benefit of having a larger pool of survey participants. All in all, it is a win-win situation.

Some great incentives to tie to the action of completing a survey can be in the form of:

  • Gift cards
  • Reward points
  • Day off
  • Spa days
  • Donate to a charity
  • Team Recognition

 and many more. We have already curated a whole list of unique survey incentives that you can take inspiration from.

However, there can be some potential downsides to consider around offering incentives for employee survey participation:

Incentives can introduce bias - Employees motivated by incentives may provide artificially positive responses to help ensure more incentives are offered in the future.

Risk of rushed, low-quality responses - Some may hurry through the survey if their primary motivation is getting the offered reward rather than sharing thoughtful feedback.

Sets an unscalable precedent - Incentives can cultivate an expectation that participation in all surveys/initiative's merits compensation rather than intrinsic motivation.

Unfair if tied to individual identifiers- Confidentiality concerns arise if identities must be tied to responses to distribute individual rewards.

2. Accessibility Of The Survey

Mobile is now everything! Today’s workforce is tech-savvy by nature and wants things to happen as quickly as possible. However, traditional surveys are known to be manual and thus are considered tedious to complete.

Even modern online surveys face the constraints of being only available at a specific desktop setting, making the process of taking a survey incredibly inconvenient.

If your company continues to follow the same practices, your employee participation in the survey may have taken a hit.

To see higher employee survey responses among the digitally savvy workforce, it’s essential that the survey is accessible to all. Several survey tools are available nowadays to help you get started on this.

Seeing that most of us are working hybrid or remotely post-2020, the need for survey accessibility grows more vital. Here is what it actually means:

Multi-Device Accessibility

Employees of today are always on the move and use their smartphones more than ever. Thus, any employee survey should consider making the survey more accessible by optimizing it for mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.

Multi-platform Accessibility

To make your surveys as user-friendly as possible, enable people to take surveys from multiple platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows, etc.

Multi-Language Support

With diversity and inclusion being so crucial to today’s workforce, your surveys should reflect the same. Provide the option of multi-language support to ensure that your global workforce doesn’t feel left out from voicing their opinions.

Disability Access

Ensure that your surveys are easy for disabled people to use and navigate. That might include providing some extra functionalities such as voice-to-text. But the cost is justifiable if it makes your workforce feel valued, included, and happy.

3. Optimize The Survey Length

constantly chasing deadlines, the employees of today are always pressed for time. With the stress of projects, work-life balance, and meetings, the time to take a long survey is far from ideal for them.

Optimizing the survey length is one of the most effective ways to increase your employee survey response rates. People will inevitably respond better to a survey that is brief and to the point. At the same time Short surveys help leaders to frame relevant questions that reflect the key challenges in the workplace.

4. Optimize The Survey Questions

A survey should be user-friendly to help you get relevant employee feedback from a much more diverse pool. Thus, ensure that while framing survey questions, you keep the following criteria in mind:

Clear Meaning

The survey questions should be framed so that every employee interprets the meaning after reading the question. Unless this occurs, the reliability of the survey response rates can be doubtful and inconclusive.

Easy Language

The language used for survey questions should be clear, concise, and straightforward. Try not be make it too complicated because the changes of misinterpretation will grow bigger.

Avoid Open-Ended Questions

The "yes" and "no" questions that many employee surveys use- make it challenging to measure employee engagement levels.

A better alternative is to opt for an eNPS driven survey that allows answering survey questions with a range of either 0-5 or 0-10. eNPS is arguably the more efficient way of measuring relevant metrics without overwhelming the survey respondents.

5. Create A Survey Communication Action Plan

This is a highly essential step that employers mostly ignore. A survey communication strategy is highly critical to maximizing employee survey participation rates.

Here is what a good survey communication action plan looks like:

Pre-Survey Communication

Most of the time, employees are unaware of what the survey is about. You must convey the following survey details to your employees clearly and concisely:

  • The aim of the survey
  • How the outcome of the survey will be utilized
  • If there are any incentives tied to complete the survey
  • How, when, and where the survey can be taken

Additionally, remember to promote the survey extensively so that every person in the company is made aware of it.

During The Survey

Be ready to offer any technical assistance or support while employees take the survey. This will ensure that employees take the survey seriously and also aid in providing a hassle-free survey experience.

Post-Survey Communication

After the survey is over, it's important to communicate with the people who were part of the survey. Ask the survey respondents if there are ways to improve their experience and if they encountered any difficulties.

It will help to build trust between you and your employees that you take employee feedback seriously.

6. Timing:

Consider the timing of your survey carefully. Avoid launching surveys during particularly busy periods such as peak work seasons or major company events when employees may be overwhelmed with other responsibilities.

7. Anonymity Matters

Another critical aspect that motivates employee survey participation enables people to be anonymous.

Anonymous surveys would allow employees to share their views without any hesitation. Thus, It enables you to obtain reliable data and feedback about how employees interpret the company’s culture.

8.Get the Leadership on board:

Get senior leadership on board to endorse the survey and highlight its importance to the organization. Encourage executives and managers to actively promote participation within their teams and lead by example by completing the survey themselves. When employees observe leadership showing genuine interest in their feedback and actively supporting the survey initiative, it fosters a greater willingness to participate.

9. Continuous Improvement:

As per Quantum workplace 65% of Employees Say Organizations Don’t Take Effective Action on Employee Survey Results

Employees don't like to participate in surveys because companies rarely act on the given feedback.

Thus, it's important to constantly work on making your surveys better by listening to feedback and watching response rates.

To improve employee survey participation rates, it’s essential to let employees know and see that the company is proactively working to improve the workplace experience.

Ultimately, such practices of supporting employees to offer opinions and acting upon them will improve employee engagement.

Tailoring Surveys to Your Culture and Industry

One-size-fits-all surveys may fail to address the unique needs, challenges, and priorities of different teams or departments within an organization.

Thus, customizing surveys to match your company's culture and industry norms is crucial for getting valuable insights and making smart decisions.

Below are the prime reasons listing why it matters:

Cultural Relevance: Every company has its own vibe and way of doing things. Introduce the survey highlighting how it connects to your values, behaviors and purpose.Surveys that fit with your culture are more likely to get honest feedback. For example, if your organization values transparency and open communication, your survey questions should reflect this by encouraging honest feedback and providing opportunities for anonymity

Industry-Specific Insights: Different industries have distinct challenges, priorities, and performance indicators. By customizing survey questions to address industry-specific concerns, you can gather insights that are directly relevant to your business context. For example, a tech company might ask about new ideas, while a healthcare company might focus on patient care.

Engagement and Participation: Surveys that feel like they're made for your team get more responses.

Actionable Feedback: Customized surveys give you feedback that you can actually use. By asking the right questions, you can find out what needs fixing and make real improvements in your company.

Respect for Diversity: Tailoring surveys shows that you respect everyone's unique perspective. By acknowledging and embracing diversity, you create a survey experience where everyone feels heard and valued.

Recommended Resource: Listen to this Podcast on How To Build A Positive Company Culture? by **Keith Herman**


Hence, we can safely say that if you want more employees to participate in surveys, you've got to make it easy and appealing for them. That means clear communication, offering rewards, making sure everyone can access the survey, and keeping the questions simple and friendly.

Is there any additional way to improve employee survey participation rates? Please drop us a mail and share your thoughts with us!

This article was co-authored by Supriya and Barasha, who work as digital marketers at Vantage Circle. For any queries reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com.

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