How to Improve Staff Survey Response Rates

Staff survey response rates are a rather touchy subject in most businesses. Many companies may only achieve a 50% response rate but some manage to boost that to 80%, sometimes even as high as 90%+. You may feel this level of participation is may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task, but the truth is it’s not far from possible.

There are three main reasons as to why many companies suffer low staff survey response rates. First of all, it’s because they have participated in several surveys and there seems to be no change coming of the results.

Some employees may fear being identified and persecuted for their points of view because of saying about their workplace. Finally, in some workplaces the managers may not see the importance of the staff surveys and hence not put enough emphasis and attention to having them completed by staff.

Whatever your company’s particular problem is, here’s how to boost those staff survey response rates.

Get your managers on board

The first, and most important, step to increasing your staff survey response rates is getting your management teams on board to see and share the importance of your surveys.

When the survey is running, your managers must be highlighting to the employees that the survey is happening and the benefits of it. Monitor response rates so that the human resources office and the staff survey coordinators can identify departments with low response rates.

Hold your managers accountable

Your management team needs to be held responsible for the participation rates in their departments as they are directly in charge of those staff teams and have the ability to make the survey reach everyone.

You should let your managers to know that authentic staff survey response rates are direct indicators of their ability to lead and manage in their role. Communicate your expectations clearly to your managers and make sure they all understand the purpose of the survey and what it means to the company.

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Highlight the results from previous surveys

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest setbacks to staff survey response rates is employees not believing that the survey will have any effect on the company.

This can be resolved by sharing results and stats from the last survey and showing how the company has improved, based on these results. However, don’t just talk about it when the new survey is coming up or has just been completed. Aim to highlight your efforts on a quarterly basis so that the survey is always fresh in your employee’s mind.

Promote your survey

It’s vital that you make your survey as accessible to your employees as possible.

This may mean having it available online, in a paper format, or even through a website that your employees can fill out at home on their own. The more accessible your survey, the better your staff survey response rates will be.

However, you can’t stop there; you’ll also need to promote your survey as much as you can. This means creating posters, sending out emails and using your managers to educate your employees. In fact, you should even have an executive like the CEO communicate the importance of the survey in multiple ways: a quick email, company newsletter article, or mentioning it during meetings will do the trick.

Create competition

Hold a competition across the entire company. If you have multiple branches, such as a restaurant chain, and you are planning to run an employee survey, you can run a competition between your company locations to see which particular restaurants achieve the best staff survey response rates.

You can include a prize for the best restaurant, such as a paid trip or a gift voucher for every employee and manager. This is a great way to get everybody on board and ready to finish their survey as quickly as possible.

Companies without multiple locations can instead compete on a department level. You can also have every finished and authentic survey be an entry into a prize draw where one big prize can be won Incentives make the employee survey process more memorable and engaging.

Improve staff survey response rates

Image: Pik Wizard

Guarantee confidentiality

Don’t let your employees’ fear of retribution damage your response rate. If employees are afraid that candid feedback will be received unfavorably then they need to feel like survey responses will be kept completely confidential.

This is why it is better to outsource the survey rather than running it internally so that employees have the confidence to speak their minds. Also limit demographic questions. A long list of questions asking employees to indicate their age, gender, and tenure, will have them fear being identified. The less employees feel they can be identified by their responses, the better.

Go easy on the open-ended questions

While open-ended questions are excellent tools to use to capture employees’ true thoughts and feelings, a survey with too many open-ended questions gets tiresome quickly.

Limit yourself to two or three precisely worded questions that invite open, candid reflection on company strengths and organisation-wide areas of opportunity in order to increase staff survey response rates.

Send out reminders to those who need them

Send reminder notes to potential respondents, typically a few hours before the staff survey closes.

If the invitations are being sent via email, final reminder notifications should be targeted to those who have not yet completed the survey. These should be sent before the survey closes.

Provide staff survey feedback

Once the staff survey findings have been presented to leaders of the organisation, they should then be shared with participants.

This helps future staff survey efforts by providing employees confidence that their feedback has been listened to and will be acted upon. When employees know that the results will be shared with the entire company, they are more invested in the process and likely to participate.

Sharing staff survey results

Image: Pik Wizard

In Summary

There are so many aspects that go into making an organisation’s employee survey a success.

Many of which come down to communication and making sure that the people who are responsible, i.e. your managers, are on board. With the above tips you can see a rise in your staff survey response rates.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.