Aiming for a high response rate is essential: the more employees respond to the survey, the higher the quality of the sample, especially when smaller groups are represented.
Some companies publish the response rates of their major employee surveys in their sustainability reports - Lufthansa, for example, recorded a response rate of 51% in 2019 for its 'involve me' survey, which takes place every second year. In general, a response rate above 70% is considered outstanding participation - but higher participation rates are also possible.
Several external factors can influence participation, such as the time of the year (e.g., in summer, many participants may be on vacation) or the survey topic (e.g., a survey on occupational safety will bring a lower response rate than surveys on working time models). Hence, it isn't easy to give a value to be expected for each survey. In general, more regular surveys (weekly or monthly) can help balance out fluctuations in participation over time.
To achieve representative results, follow these tips before, during, and after sending the survey:
Preparing the survey
- Keep surveys short and clearly structured: Stick to small surveys; the shorter the survey, the more likely it is to be answered completely. Avoid frequent changes of topics (read more here on selecting the frequency).
- Choose the right participants: Only include participants who are directly affected by the results of the survey.
- Use clear and comprehensive questions and topics: Avoid abbreviations and complex words (unless you can assume everyone in the company is familiar with them). Don't use lengthy explanations - the less effort employees have to put in to answer the survey, the higher the response rate. Consider using Leapsome's best-practice survey questions.
- Test the survey: Have someone on your team proofread the survey - spelling errors cast doubt on professionalism. It's also a good way to check for comprehensibility.
- Avoid frequently changing question forms and answer formats.
- Avoid compulsory questions: They can decrease participation, as some people may feel they cannot answer the question and will stop filling out the survey entirely.
Announcement of the survey
- Send personal invitations: If employees don't know a survey is coming soon, they may not respond. With Leapsome, you can define who receives an invitation and when in your survey settings 'Notifications' section. You can personalize this invitation.
- Raise awareness of the survey by using internal communication media (e.g., Slack, meetings, etc.)
- Emphasize importance, meaning, and purpose: Make sure employees know the purpose of the survey and that results will inform changes in the company.
- Provide detailed information: This conveys you recognize and value employees' efforts and input. But, you should limit information to the essentials; too much information can make employees feel overloaded.
- Keep participants informed in meetings: Continue to emphasize the meaningfulness of the survey. In some cases, it makes sense to hold an information event ('kick-off meeting') where employees can ask questions in advance.
- Assurance of anonymity: This is an essential point, especially for employee surveys. Feel free to highlight this information so your employees feel confident in expressing their opinions. Employees' anonymity (or lack thereof) will also be noted clearly at the top of the survey. Learn more about anonymity in Leapsome surveys here.
During the survey
- Send reminders: this helps to convince employees to participate. Depending on how long the survey period is, it is worth sending out a reminder after the halfway point and shortly before the end of the survey (i.e., at least two reminders), drawing attention to the deadline. With Leapsome, you can set up automatic reminders.
- Monitor response rates: With Leapsome, it is possible to monitor participation during the survey. Thus, you should monitor participation rates during the survey response period so managers can motivate their teams to participate before the answer period ends.
After the survey / presentation of the survey results
- Analyze the results in detail: understand the overall results and dive into the results for specific employee groups. In Leapsome, you can filter to look at teams, a manager's direct reports, performance quantiles, and more.
- Present results: Employees also want to be informed of the survey results and your resulting actions. Make sure you present the most relevant results as soon as possible. You may also want to make the results visible to select groups or all employees. Here's how to manage the visibility settings of survey results.
- Involve managers and let them take responsibility for the actions they have control over: celebrate good results with the team, work on those in need of improvement
- Do not make false promises: otherwise, the survey's credibility will suffer, and employees will not participate in the next round.
- Recurring surveys are perceived positively if previous surveys have produced improvements - before the new survey, a reference can then be made again to what measures resulted from the last survey. Suppose actions are not taken after employees have put effort into providing feedback. In that case, you will see participation decrease as employees begin to see the survey as a waste of time. Therefore, taking action is the best way to increase participation rates!