How to increase Employee Survey Response Rate?

HR departments conduct employee survey frequently to investigate employee engagement and satisfaction levels. As Peter Abelard once mentioned in his book “Sic et non” ; The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we at the truth.

It is obvious, the more data collected through the surveys, the more accurate insight shall be perceived by the HR and the managers. However, the rate of received responses and participation in surveys is not that much to ensure an accurate result based on collected data.

Yet the response rate to employee opinion surveys is not satisfying. It is due to several factors, in which the most significant ones are related to management support and its communication with employees. Besides the format of the survey which is not accessible or time-consuming or it does not ensure the confidentiality of the respondents’ identity.

Management supporting role in employee survey conduction

Organizations must study and negotiate the reasons that lead them to employee survey conduction in advance, to have a clear and bright insight over the effectiveness and efficiency of this action. Unless they won’t be able to persuade their personnel and staff to participate in the survey.

They should scrutinize the employee survey conduction from different aspects. The length and the type of questions, the time of survey distribution, and presenting the results to both employers and employees to clear their policies or taking changing actions are some of them.

Communication to the employee

The history of employee opinion surveys in the company is very important in the future rate of survey participation. Results should be reported to the employee without any changes, even if they are not satisfying.

Reporting the results does not necessarily change the management policies but it forces them to clarify the situation and explain the reasons that led them to apply such policy.

For example, if the results show that staff is not satisfied with their vacation length during the year, the company may not be able to extend the vacation but it can explain that globalization and competitive conditions force them to shrink vacation length.

Employee Survey Format and time-frame

The type of asked questions, the format of survey distribution, and the time of distribution affects the rate of participation significantly.

The questions should be chosen with high sensitivity. The length of the survey should be kept as short as possible, containing 3 questions at least and 12 at most.

The time that takes to complete the survey should be considered. A specific period should be allocated to survey completion. The time of survey distribution is another engaging factor. The date is set in advance and only unforeseen situations like a pandemic or terroristic attacks like September 11 can postpone them.

Distributing surveys weekly or monthly at the same make it as a working habit and put it in the workflow. It will also help to increases the rate of participation. On the other hand, the accessibility to the survey is very important. It can be distributed through different platforms on websites or mobile applications to facilitate the process. If organizations are planning to survey different departments or different branches, it is better to distribute it at the same time and define the due date for survey submission. In this way, employees’ interrelations and fluctuations in the business field do not affect their opinion.

Confidentiality of the survey

Employees hesitate to express their true personal opinion clearly because they are afraid of the consequences. The surveys should be kept confidential, and the number of demographical questions (age, gender, experience) should be as minimum as possible to decrease the risk of identifying the respondent. It is necessary to assure the employees that the responses are collected anonymously, and their identity won’t be recognized through the demographical questions.

Delivering the results

At last, it is crucial to report the results in separate formats to both employers and employees as promised and mention the date of the report’s presentation in the survey. The date of the result presentation should not be so far since it disperses pessimistic thoughts over organizational strategies among employees.

Reporting the results does not necessarily change management policies but it highlights the vague strategies that are under question by personnel. Even if the results are not promising and satisfying, they should not be manipulated.

Frequent reports that show progress in the rate of satisfaction due to applied changes can encourage staff to participate openly in the future employee surveys. It is indispensable for the leaders and managers to show the importance and the efficiency of the employee survey conduction in their way toward their organizational goals to receive an honest response.

Reference: McConnell, John. How to design, implement, and interpret an employee survey. Amacom, 2003.

By: Yassaman Djafari . July 2020