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What does survey response time say about your employee experience?

July 1, 2019
4 minute read
Last updated July 1, 2019

Ratings. You see them all the time—on Amazon, Yelp, and your favorite podcasts. It seems like all ratings are either glowing or scathing. There’s very little in between. 

Being in the employee experience space, we wondered if the same applied to company surveys. Do the people who respond have positive or negative things to say about their organization? And we also wondered who responds to the survey first—those who want to leave a glowing review or those who have something to get off their chest? 

We used our recent PI Employee Experience Survey™ benchmark data to find out.

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What your survey response times indicate about your employees’ job satisfaction

The survey was administered over the course of two weeks. Response timeframes were grouped into four categories:

  • Those who responded in the first three days
  • Those who responded days 4-6
  • Those who responded days 7-10
  • Those who responded days 11-14

We then analyzed the difference in engagement between those four groups to determine if there was any correlation between when people took the survey and how they felt about the organization.

Much to our delight, there were statistically significant differences between the four groups.

Those who took the survey in the first three days were less engaged than their peers. Their engagement score was approximately five points lower than the overall population’s average.

Employees who took the survey between days 4-10 were the most engaged of their peers, averaging around eight points more favorable than their peers.

Through the final few days of the survey, engagement levels taper back toward the average of the two groups.

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What the data means for your business

If you’re monitoring your results in real-time and your scores over the first few days aren’t what you’d hoped for, sit tight. They’re likely to get better in the middle part of your survey admin window. 

If you’re nearing the end of your administration and your results take a little dip, not to worry; it’s to be expected.

What contributes to these feedback windows

Think back on your own experiences giving feedback, whether it was sharing your employee experience, rating a hotel, or reviewing an item on Amazon. If you jumped on the opportunity to provide feedback as soon as you could, you probably had an experience that elicited a strong emotional response—and you wanted the organization to know about it. More importantly, you wanted to offload that information before it slipped your mind. They asked how you felt and you let them know immediately.

On the flip side, say you had a great experience. You might’ve taken some time to gather your thoughts and provide thoughtful feedback. Your emotional reaction to providing feedback was not so knee-jerk. Even if you left a glowing response, you weren’t in a hurry to get the feedback off your chest. In fact, it may have taken a reminder email for you to give your feedback.

If your experience was run of the mill—nothing too noteworthy one way or another—it might take you a little longer and a few more reminders before you decide to provide feedback (if you do at all).

Responding to employee feedback

When it comes down to it, employee surveys are meant to be feedback mechanisms and catalysts for communication and change. As a result, it’s normal to receive a range of ratings when you ask for feedback on your employees’ experience at work. 

While surveys often offer employees anonymity in responding, you should be prepared to discuss the results in a meeting with your team. Similar to a hotel manager calling to follow up on a poor review to see what they could have done better, invite your team to share specifics on their experiences at work and what they would like to see improved.

Help your organization be known as one that listens to its employees and strives to provide an excellent experience at work. This will impact not only your future survey results but also your ability to hire and retain top talent.

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