Best Practices for Improving Response Rate

This article contains suggestions for addressing a low response rate both during your survey and before your survey opens.

A variety of factors can influence response rates. If your overall participation in your current survey is low, ask yourself the following questions to assess what may be behind the low response rate:

  1. Did employees successfully receive the invitation?  
  2. Do employees have easy access to a computer, tablet or smart phone to participate? 
  3. Have employees received sufficient communication explaining why their participation matters? 
  4. Are employees concerned about confidentiality?
  5. Are particular areas of the company (specific departments, locations, etc.) showing lower participation than other groups? 

Whenever possible, addressing the specific issue that may be causing your response rate to be low is the most effective approach. 

In addition to troubleshooting, we recommend the following proactive measures to ensure a high response rate: 

  1. Deliver a formal announcement about the engagement survey. Stress that the survey responses are completely confidential.  Ideally, you would do this before the survey launches.
  2. Frame your communication about the survey around employee voice. Even before the survey launches, provide real examples of feedback that led to your decision to choose an engagement survey.
  3. Carve out time specifically for your employees to take the survey. Give them 15-30 minutes to complete the survey without cutting into lunch or personal hours.
  4. Hold managers accountable for getting their associates to participate.
  5. Communicate the importance of having a high response rate on the basis that more voices are heard, the more your organization will receive accurate data and the better position your organization will be in to deliver actionable results. 
  6. Explain what you will do with the data once the survey is complete. 
  7. To be proactive with next year's survey, ensure that the changes implemented from this year's survey results are well-communicated.  Address which key issues take priority over others and why, let employees know that it’s more feasible to tackle larger issues first, as “doing too much” will likely result in few significant changes being made at all. If the changes are made visible to employees, they will recognize that survey participation yields positive results and will more likely participate next year.