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Why employees aren’t completing your employee experience survey

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Employee experience surveys help employers keep a pulse on employee sentiment—about the organization, their managers, and their jobs. You can then use the data you collect to diagnose people problems and prescribe action plans to improve the employee experience—this plays a critical role in engagement and retention.

But what happens if employees aren’t responding to your surveys?

If your surveys are generating a response rate of less than 65%, it may be because of these three reasons.

You’re asking too many questions.

Often referred to as “survey taking fatigue,” responses may dip when too many questions are asked. The longer a survey is, the higher the likelihood employees won’t finish the survey, will skip open-ended questions, or won’t answer with as much intention as earlier on in the survey.

Consider paring down your questions to those that are most pressing or those you can more immediately address. 

You’re sending too many surveys.

Called “survey response fatigue,” sending too many surveys can cause your responses to decline as well. If your employees receive a litany of surveys—employee experience, eNPS, best places to work, etc.—responding can feel more like a chore than an opportunity to provide valuable insight.

If different departments in your organization administer surveys, take a moment to step back and catalog each department’s efforts. This will give you a better picture of how often employees are being asked to provide feedback. 

You’re taking too little action.

If your organization is not actively working to resolve the issues noted in previous surveys, employees may feel the time invested in taking the survey is not worthwhile.

Before administering a new survey, review past results to ensure action has been taken. If it hasn’t, consider holding off on additional surveying until past feedback has been reviewed and addressed and a plan of action has been communicated to staff. In addition, when creating future surveys, don’t include questions leading to feedback you’re unable or unwilling to act on.

employee sitting at desk

4 tips to improve your employee experience survey responses

If your response rate isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, implement one (or more) of these four tips to increase the likelihood of response.

1. Promptly follow up on the survey.

Be sure to communicate openly and transparently with your employees about the results of your employee experience survey and next steps.

2. Take action on feedback.

Feedback that’s received but not acted upon can be like salt in an open wound. Even if you can’t address all the feedback, taking action on some of the outcomes of your employee experience survey will go a long way in making your employees feel as though their voice counts.

For example, here at The Predictive Index®, we recently conducted an employee experience survey. While there were some items we weren’t able to immediately address, the senior leadership team spent time reviewing the results with their respective departments and determining an order of priority to work on areas of improvement. Even though this didn’t result in prompt action on every area of opportunity, it allowed employees to feel heard and confident there was a plan for progress.

3. Recognize and reward employees for providing feedback.

Unless giving feedback is something that’s rewarded and appreciated visibly, it can become a drag—especially on high performers. Take time to recognize and thank your employees for sharing their thoughts and responding to surveys. 

4. Create a culture of continuous feedback.

By offering employees regular opportunities to provide feedback, you decrease the need to administer multiple surveys. This could be as simple as discussing blockers with employees during one-on-one meetings, creating an anonymous reporting system, or collecting organizational feedback during performance reviews.

While you can’t control every factor that contributes to low response rates, there are a number of actions within your control that can be improved upon. Use these tips to increase survey efficacy and responsiveness.

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Shannon is a product manager at PI. She has a mirror-image twin sister—but they didn't discover this until they were 26.

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