TSI Blog

Push Those Response Rates Up

September 17th, 2014 by Alison McKinney

It’s that time of the year again.   Your organisation is rolling out the annual employee survey so that management can measure the engagement levels across the entire organisation.   Yet, with all the costs and efforts to administer employee surveys, achieving a high response rate can be tricky.

Getting employees to take time to complete the survey can be a challenge for any leader and with the low response rates, there if often too little data available to analyse and drill down to a micro-team level.

We at The Survey Initiative, experts in employee research and staff surveys are very proud of our average response rates when conducting surveys for our clients – typically 84%.

So today, we’d like to offer up some ideas on how your organisation can improve response rates when carrying out your employee survey.

Ensure Participant Anonymity

The best way to do this is to employ a third party to collect the data and generate the reports. Employees will feel more comfortable and respond more openly and candidly when they know their responses are being handled by an outside organisation and treated with confidentiality. This will improve not only the response rate, but also the quality of responses.

Establish a Sponsor and Buy-In from Senior Management

When distributing the survey to employees, a letter of endorsement from the CEO, or other prominent leader will communicate the importance of responding to the survey. The letter should explain why the survey is being conducted and what is stood to be gained for both the organisation and the employees.

Keep it Brief

Lengthy surveys tend to have lower response rates. It’s as simple as that. Regardless of the length of your survey, it’s a good idea to let your people know up front how long it will take them to complete it. Be accurate in your estimate. It is better to estimate a longer time rather than a shorter time, as this will leave employees pleasantly surprised when they complete the survey early.

So What Next?

Communicate clearly what the organisation intends to do with the information gathered from the survey. If you plan to share the results with employees, let them know that. By sharing with the workforce what the organisation is planning on doing with the results, it shows them that their employer is serious about the results from the survey and that they have not wasted time in completing the survey.

Hold Leaders Accountable

Let leaders in the organisation know that they are responsible for encouraging their team members to complete the survey and allowing them to take the much needed time to participate in the survey process. People are more likely to take part in the survey if they know their managers value their opinions and likely to act on the results. It’s important that leaders know that the lack of participation is directly, or indirectly, a reflection of their leadership.

Lead by Example

This is arguably the easiest way to increase response rates.  As a manager, nothing is more powerful than leading by example.  Completing your own survey and sending the team a note that you’ve done so yourself, goes a long way in motivating others.

Follow Through on Your Promises

Once your organisation has communicated what is planned to be done with the results, be sure to follow through. If this doesn’t happen, the next time information is needed to be gathered or an employee survey needs to be carried out, credibility will have been lost and response rates will suffer. Be sure to not only follow through on promises, but do so publically.

Offer Team Incentives or Donations to Charities

Consider offering modest group incentives to teams or workgroups who have the highest response rates. Alternatively, pledge to donate a nominal amount to a charity of the participant’s choice. The incentive should fit with your organisation’s culture and appeal to all employees equally.

If you go to all the trouble of conducting a survey, following these simple efforts will not only yield better response numbers, but also drive teams to work together to improve employee engagement. Doing so will help you create an organisation where employees love to come to work, and customers love to do business with you.

Want to know more about how to increase response rates for your employee survey, then give us a call on +44 (0) 1255 850051 or contact us via our web contact form.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager 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. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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