TSI Blog

Why employee survey response rates are so important

May 4th, 2012 by Gary Cattermole

Today we are closing an employee survey on behalf of one of our longest standing clients.

I thought I would share with you that, working alongside our client, we have achieved a response rate in excess of 80% (for the sixth year running).  As you can imagine our client is very happy that their survey has consistently provided an excellent response rate.

We have worked closely with them from the outset detailing the processes of maximising response rates but I just wanted to touch on ‘why’ getting as high a response rate as possible to your employee survey is so important.


From our perspective as an independent employee research organisation the very first thing a high response rate illustrates is that we have developed the survey correctly.  When large numbers of employees take part in the survey it shows that the survey has been well received and that employees feel and believe that the questions are relevant and that their views will be heard and acted upon.  Effectively the balance between covering the areas/ topics that are important to employees and also those leading the organisation is correct.

Secondly and most importantly of all, a good response rate will provide valid, representative and actionable data.  Where response rates are in the 80’s and 90’s (be it at organisation or local level) it provides an excellent level of confidence that data is representative and that the work you undertake as a result of you survey is based on valid data.  As you can imagine, this is very important!

So, what sort of response rate should I be aiming for?

This is a question we are often asked.  Our average response rate for an employee survey sits in the mid 80’s and we are very proud of this.  The industry average sits nearer the mid 60 mark.

With the right pre-survey communication strategy, a survey that is designed correctly for the organisation its employees and leaders and by taking solid, positive action as a result of the feedback, there should be no reason why you cannot obtain response rates in the 80’s and 90’s.

Some of our recent work has been with organisations that traditionally had low response rates to their employee surveys.  We worked with an organisation, for example, to take their response rate up 25% points from 44% to 69%.  This is part of a long-term survey strategy that should see their 2012 survey response rate between 75% and 80%.

If you would like to learn more about how to get the highest possible response rate from your employee survey, then drop me a line.

Written by Gary Cattermole
Gary Cattermole is a Director at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Gary has extensive expertise and experience in a range of employee research techniques from employees surveys and 360 degree feedback to workshop facilitation and action planning sessions, working with a diverse range of clients such as EPSON, Telegraph Media Group, Natural History Museum, AVEVA and Accor. Gary is an avid sports fan, in particular table tennis and football. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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