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What’s A Good Employee Engagement Survey Response Rate & How to Improve It

Published by Beatrice Speck

6 June 2024

Employee surveys are vital to any organisation’s efforts to understand, nurture, and optimise its workforces’ wellbeing. These surveys can guide leaders towards initiatives that promote a culture of engagement, productivity, and wellbeing. However, the integrity of these surveys hinges greatly on a crucial factor: the response rate.


Understanding the Importance of Response Rates

Before diving into strategies to enhance response rates and what an effective response rate is, it’s crucial to grasp why they matter. A high response rate translates to:


  • Data Accuracy: A larger sample size enhances the statistical reliability and validity of survey findings, providing a more accurate reflection of the workforce’s sentiments.

  • Inclusivity and Representation: A diverse range of perspectives enriches the data pool, ensuring that insights are reflective of the entire employee demographic.

  • Increased Engagement: A culture of participation promotes a sense of belonging and involvement among employees, aligning with the very essence of engagement initiatives.

 

Setting the Benchmark

So, what is a good employee engagement survey response rate? And more importantly, how can we ensure we get a stellar one? Let’s get into it.


At a minimum, we recommend aiming to achieve a response rate of over 50%. This because if it isn’t over 50%, it is not representative of a larger proportion of the organisation and so any conclusions you make might not be accurate. Best practice is to aim for 60%+. When you’re reaching 80%+ response rate, you know your conclusions are going to much more reliable, enhancing your data driven decision making. . In today's fast-paced world though, where inboxes overflow and attention spans are low, hitting that mark can feel a bit unachievable.

 

However, we need to consider the context


There are some factors though that may impact or bolster the response rate, such as


The industry or type of work your workers do: If your team are software developers used to rapid communication, constant feedback loops and keen for innovation, then you might find your response rates are higher than average. On the contrary, an organisation that isn’t office-based, like construction workers, might find it harder getting representative response rates because  they are less accustomed to digital surveys, and less likely to be sat at a computer all the day. If the workforce is skeptical or less exposed to a sense of “corporate wellbeing”, this may also impact the amount of responses. In these contexts, achieving a high response rate might require a different approach – one that emphasises face-to-face communication or supervisor encouragement to ensure all voices are heard.


Organisation Size & Structure: The size of your organisation is also important to consider, for larger organisations, aiming for 60-70% is commendable, whereas a smaller company may aim for around 80-90%. In larger organisations, sometimes the communication channels are fuzzy - it's like trying to shout across a crowded room at a party - not exactly the most effective way to get your message across. Understanding how your organisation's structure impacts communication flow is key to ensuring that everyone gets a chance to chime in on those important surveys.


Company Culture and Values: When a company’s culture values open communication, transparency, and employee voice, survey participation will be more of a breeze. But if feedback feels like talking to a brick wall, or feels too risky, you can bet those response rates might take a nosedive.


Previous Survey History: If past surveys have felt like a tick-box exercise or employee feedback has been ghosted, employees might be a bit hesitant to jump on the survey bandwagon again. But, building trust through transparent communication and actually doing something with the feedback can turn those hesitant whispers into enthusiastic feels for the surveys.

Nevertheless, the emphasis should not solely be on reaching a percentage, but rather on maximising participation to ensure a representative sample.

 

 

Strategies for Achieving a Stellar Response Rate


1. Clear Communication and Purpose:

Ever received an email that made you go, "Huh?". We've all been there. Ensure your survey invitations are crystal clear. Explain why it's important, what participants can expect, and how their feedback will be used. Transparency breeds trust, and trust leads to engagement. Consider developing a communication strategy, with clear definition, instructions for employees along the way.

 

2. Anonymity Boost:

This point is super important – employees might think, "What if they figure out it's me?" and hesitate to share their true feelings if they fear repercussions or judgment. Communicating the true anonymity can alleviate these concerns, providing a safe space for genuine feedback to flow, ultimately leading to richer insights and a higher response rate.

 

3. Timing Is Everything:

Sending out your survey during a busy period or right after a big change in your organisation? Not the best idea. Choose a time when your team is likely to have some breathing room. Strategically schedule the survey to minimise disruptions and optimise participation and consider shorter pulse surveys to prevent survey fatigue.

 

4. Make It Personal:

Personalise communication to resonate with different segments of the workforce, highlighting the relevance and impact of their input. Implement incentives or recognition programs to incentivise participation, ranging from tangible rewards to acknowledgment in company-wide communications.

 

5. Lead by Example:

Get your leaders on board! Secure visible support and endorsement from senior leadership, if leaders champion the survey and participate enthusiastically, others are more likely to follow suit. Set the tone from the top down.

 

6. Feedback Loop:

Don’t stop there. Demonstrate a commitment to action by outlining how survey results will inform tangible initiatives and improvements. Establish a transparent feedback loop, communicating survey outcomes, and progress on action items, reinforcing the impact of employee feedback. Keep refining your survey process based on feedback and results. The world – and your workforce – is constantly evolving, so your approach should too.

 

3 ways  Anova was able to increase response rates by 30% for a Global Financial Services Company of 1500+ employees:


With a widely dispersed workforce across various time zones and cultures, an innovative and holistic approach was needed to gain insight from all teams to accurately gauge employee sentiment and address any concerns. Stuck at a response rate of 60% from previous in-house surveys, the organisation was looking to bolster responses and with the help of Anova, were able to achieve 90% response rate! To find out how, keep reading.

 

1.        A Custom Made Communication Plan

Recognising the need for a more targeted approach, Anova collaborated closely with the organisation’s marketing team to design a communication strategy tailored to resonate with employees across various regions and demographics. Messaging emphasisedg the importance of employee feedback and assured anonymity, highlighting the organisation’s genuine commitment to enhancing employee wellbeing.


2.        The Power Of Anova Automated Reminders

In addition to developing compelling communication, Anova’s integrated automated reminders provided a gentle nudge to employees who had not yet participated. These reminders are strategically timed to maintain engagement to encourage completion and go straight to employee inboxes.

 

3.        Real-time Dashboard with access to response rates

By having access to real time data on response rates, the project group were able to monitor underrepresented teams or locations and provide targeted communication and gentle nudges to the areas that they were not seeing much uptake. Using Anova’s pre-templated communication guidelines, they were able to generate further uptake and inform leaders to do an internal push where it was needed.

 

If you want support on bolstering response rates for your own surveys, get in touch with Anova today!




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