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Employee Survey Average Response Rates

We are often asked “What should we expect in terms of a response rate on our upcoming employee survey?”

employee survey response ratesBased on ten years worth of completed employee survey projects, the average EngagedMetrics response rate is 72.68%. However when it comes to estimating a response rate for your upcoming project, the reality is that each survey is different and there are no simple answers. Employee survey response rates depend heavily upon a handful of organizational characteristics and are impacted by the design of the survey itself. A few significant factors that influence response rates are:

  • Does the employee survey have the support of management?

    Not surprisingly, the support of management is crucial in driving employee participation. We recommend having the most senior manager available send an announcement email a few days before employees receive their survey invitations. When using a 3rd party to conduct the survey, the announcement email should introduce the 3rd party, communicate the goals of the project, provide a high level overview of how the results will be used, stress employee anonymity, and inform employees when to expect survey invitations.

    Once the survey is active, you will need the support of middle managers to encourage lagging employees to participate. Although the anonymity of employees is protected, aggregated organizational analytics will allow you to determine where in the organization the survey responses are originating from.

  • The larger the survey, the smaller the response rate.

    There is a direct correlation between survey size and response rate. It is important to be selective in choosing your survey topics and questions. We understand a client’s desire to measure every organizational topic available in EngagedMetrics’ vast question catalog, however larger surveys take longer to complete and result in some employees checking out prior to finishing.

    We recommend keeping your survey to fewer than 65 questions. Some clients prefer shorter pulse surveys. We recommend that your survey not exceed the 100 question mark. It can be tricky and does require careful thought to ensure your survey targets the desired topics without becoming bloated and negatively effecting the response rate.

  • Are the employees within the company “wired”?

    Typically, surveys where the workforce has direct access to email and the web see higher response rates, since employee accessibility to the survey is increased.

    Do not get discouraged if most employees in your company do not have email. In manufacturing or production setttings, a solid response rate can still be achieved through shared workstations, survey kiosks, or paper surveys.

We Want More Numbers!

With the EngagedMetrics platform, our average survey response rate is 72.68%.
Here are some general guidlines for estimating response rates within your organization.

Acceptable: 50% to 60%

The percentage of EngagedMetrics clients that fall into the “acceptable” response rate range is 13.75%.

At a bare minimum, we like to see our clients exceed a 50% response rate. Although the size of the organization plays a key role, we believe meeting the 50% response rate threshold is imperative to ensure the data is valid. In the case of a low response rate, the survey can always be extended and additional reminder messages sent. It is important to mention there is diminishing return with each wave of reminders messages.

Respectable: 60% to 75%

The percentage of EngagedMetrics clients that fall into the “respectable” response rate range is 34.50%.

This is the most common range that EngagedMetrics clients fall into. Although we are always excited to see clients surpass the respectable range, it is at this level we feel confident that enough responses have been collected to reflect the various views of the organization. We recommend continuing to monitor the organizational reports to determine if responses are lagging in specific parts of the company.

Commendable: 75% to 90%

The percentage of EngagedMetrics clients that achieve the “commendable” response rate range is 28.75%.

With support from management and a well designed survey, it’s entirely possible to achieve a commendable response rate between 75% and 90% percent.

Exceptional: 90% to 100%

The percentage of EngagedMetrics clients that fall into the “exceptional” response rate range is 13%.

It is quite an accomplishment to drive response rates into the exceptional category. Just over 10% of our clients are able achieve response rates exceeding 90%. The highest response rate on record for an EngagedMetrics client is 98.25%

Setting Realistic Expectations

There’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high, however it is important to set realistic, achievable response rate expectations for your organization. Take into account contributing factors like: managerial support, survey size, and the accessbility of your workforce when setting response rate expectations for your employee survey.

Josh Greenberg

+Josh Greenberg is a co-founder, software developer, and architect at EngagedMetrics. Josh is passionate about developing next generation tools for measuring employee engagement and helping companies reach their full potential.

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