5 tips to increase employee survey response rates

Merel Wijnands

Employees most commonly give one of three reasons as to why they don’t participate in employee surveys and as a result, employee survey response rates suffer. Fortunately, the justifications can be overcome with five straight forward actions.

5 tips to increase employee survey response rates

High employee survey response rate matter. The more people participate in a survey, the more complete the view is on how everything is going and the more precise and impactful the follow up action will be.

5 steps to create impactful employee surveys

The importance of managers in employee survey response rates

Well executed employee surveys give all employees the chance to share their opinion, anonymously and freely. The result is an honest and objective view on how everything is going and what could still be improved.

Survey insights offer managers the chance to convert their team’s valuable feedback into concrete improvements. Not only can the improvements enhance team performance, they can also positively affect aspects such as work atmosphere, employee motivation, as well as employee engagement and employee commitment.

The key role of HR in employee surveys

In order to reach a high survey response rates, it’s essential that managers are on board with the survey. From planning to execution and action, managers should be supportive of the process and survey goals. Ideally, managers engage with the survey and are pro-active in taking the necessary steps to make the survey a success.

Most importantly, managers need to be open to feedback and be willing to take action on the results.  If managers aren’t on board, the potential positive impact of a survey is severely diminished. Without commitment to action from managers, the impact can in fact be negative. Employees may stop believing in the survey process, and the areas that managers and organisations are looking to improve could instead end up being harmed.

Why measure employee engagement?


How to gather feedback from your employees

The step-by-step guide to creating your employee engagement survey.


How to increase response rate on surveys

Time and time again, we have seen that the vast majority of employees give one of three reasons as to why they don’t participate in employee surveys:

  1. Having the feeling that the survey is not anonymous and being afraid of the consequences of providing (critical) feedback.
  2. Assuming that nothing will be done with the results.
  3. Not having time to complete it.

3 incentives to conduct employee surveys

5 tips to eliminate reasons for non-participation

The key to increasing an employee survey response rate is to eliminate employees’ reasons not to participate. By eliminating employees’ reasons not to partake, the chance that a survey’s response rate will considerably increase are very high.

From experience, we’ve developed the following five tips to combat reasons for non-participation in surveys:

  •        Monitor

Monitoring the survey response rate will give you a good idea of the overall non-participation rate, provide valuable information and can act as a guide for the subsequent four steps.

  •        Share the survey response rate

Sharing the response rate provides employees with a gentle reminder to complete the survey and furthermore, allows employees and teams to celebrate high response rates.

  •        Communicate the confidentiality

Employees can worry about confidentiality. The best thing to do is to address these concerns by emphasising that the survey is confidential and continually explain what happens to their opinion.

  •        Underlie the importance of receiving opinions

Communicate to employees just how important their opinion is to the organisation. Let them know that without it, the desired improvements in areas such as performance and work atmosphere are much harder to achieve.

  •        Plan action

As soon as the survey is revealed, announce that that action will be taken on the results. By following the intent with action and a planned meeting(s), it demonstrates commitment to improving things together.

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