You wake up, go through your morning routine, and finally sit down to open your laptop. You had been anticipating this moment because your engagement survey was due last night and you're excited to see the results.
As soon as you open the report, there is a problem. The response rate on your engagement survey was low, REALLY low. There isn't enough data to draw any solid conclusions or truly measure your employee engagement.
If you've found yourself in this situation, or something similar, you're not alone! Low response rates are a problem that often plagues HR teams. Putting out an engagement survey with good intentions of creating real organizational change based on the results is a great place to start. However, if you do not receive enough responses, it can feel like a waste of time and resources.
In this article, we will explore why engagement surveys receive low response rates and the five things you can do to improve them in your organization to create a happy, healthy workplace.
5 Ways to Boost your Engagement Survey Response Rates:
1) Use the "three S" rule
2) Implement the feedback you receive
3) Tell everyone about it
4) Make it a big deal
5) Leverage rewards
Why Your Response Rate Is Low
Engagement is a massive problem in companies. According to Gallup, only 36% of U.S. employees are engaged at the workplace. So you have this silent majority of people who need to fill in the survey to understand why they’re not engaged, but these are the “disengaged” people who won’t fill the survey in the first place.
A good benchmark is to aim to get around 70% of respondents including those disengaged employees, to participate in the engagement survey.
Why should you dedicate more time and energy to improving your response rate and not just scrap surveys altogether? Engagement surveys are important because they let you know what you need to work on. With an engaged workforce, productivity will increase, turnover rate will decrease which goes hand in hand with a better working experience for all stakeholders involved.
To collect enough information to create meaningful changes in the workplace, you need to increase your engagement survey response rates. Here are five ways to do it:
1) Small, Simple, Short
When using an employee engagement survey, remember the three S rule: small, simple, short. These rules focus on three problems regarding engagement surveys:
- Small. When creating, implementing, and distributing an engagement survey, remember to keep it small. Don’t try to ask your employees about all the problems that can bother them in the workplace. Keep the engagement survey focused on a single problem. If you’re having problems focusing on a single issue, look at the following seven drivers of employee engagement and try to focus on just one of them per survey: Personal resources, Work environment, Communication, Effective management, Benefits and Pay Satisfaction, Growth, and Development, Health and Wellness.
- Simple. Keep the engagement survey simple— have mostly closed-end questions with some open-end questions where the employees can give out a detailed response to the situations. Make sure that all the questions are clear, that the employees can understand them, and that they can skip a question if it isn’t relevant for them.
- Short. Keep the engagement survey short. According to SurveyMonkey, around 60% of people don’t want to fill a survey that’s longer than 10 minutes. So take into consideration the length of your survey and keep it short if you want people to finish it.
2) Implement The Feedback You Receive
The first engagement survey that the HR team does in a company has a higher response rate than the following ones if the feedback from the first survey hasn’t been implemented.
Employees fill out the survey because they believe their voice will be heard and that something will be changed. Employees need to provide data and information on what’s wrong and needs to be fixed in the workplace for things to change.
But if the survey is only done to be checked off a to-do list and not actioned, then the employees won’t take it seriously.
You need to implement the feedback you receive from the employees through the engagement survey. If you can’t implement something, you need to be open and transparent with your employees and state the reasons why something can’t be done.
But a survey isn’t a tool whose only purpose is to listen— it’s to receive information and implement the feedback.
3) Tell Everyone About It
Another problem we often see is that the teams in charge of the survey don’t ensure that everyone who needs to fill out the survey receives the notice about it. Make sure everyone knows about the survey
Communication is essential if you want to have a big engagement survey response rate and sending just one email about it isn’t going to be enough.
When you’re planning an engagement survey, prepare a communications plan for it. Plan ahead and send emails weeks in advance. Also, make sure that you put notifications in the system for the survey. They can be via emails, SMS, push notifications, or internal app reminders to fill in the engagement survey.
When you want to increase the survey response rate, it’s better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate the importance of filling it out to your employees.
4) Make It A Big Deal
The engagement survey can’t just be one of the things the HR team does on a company level. It has to be one of the action items the entire leadership team stands behind.
When distributing the engagement survey, make sure that you get an endorsement from executives, managers, line managers, and team leaders. This way, the engagement survey will be acknowledged as something really important to the organization and more employees will participate in the survey.
5) Leverage Rewards
Another way to boost your response rate is to reward the team with the highest percentage of surveys filled by recognizing them publicly in front of the whole company (you can even add up a small reward). But you need to communicate the importance of the survey so that everyone in the company knows how crucial this is to the entire organization. You listen to take action
It’s better not to give out an engagement survey if you know that it won’t be implemented. Every survey is the first step in a four-step process:
- Survey collects data
- HR team gathers insights from the data
- Executive and leadership teams create an action plan according to the insights
- All relevant stakeholders implement the action plan
Remember that listening to your employees, in the form of a survey, is the first step in improving the employee experience at your workplace.
Encouraging employees to participate in surveys is no easy task. But by implementing the five tips in this article, you are setting yourself up for success.
In addition, creating a strategic engagement survey will increase your response rate and give you better data to work with. For more information on how to level up the content of your surveys check out our New Engagement Survey.