What is a good response rate for an employee survey?

  • Is anything less than 90% an acceptable survey response rate?!
  • Why have only 21% completed my survey?

Generally, employee surveys get higher response rates than customer or market research surveys*; typically in the range of 50-70%. Mark collated all our employee surveys’ results at Surveylab over a twelve month period to find that our average response rate was 71%.

Any external provider has an advantage over an HR department running its staff survey internally because there is usually more belief that the survey will remain anonymous. We can also use technology to track which staff have completed/not completed the survey and maintain anonymity – we don’t share any information that reveals an individual back to the company. This helps to send very targeted communications to chase-up people who are slow to reply but isn’t possible if managed in-house.

A good response rate needs good internal comms. The first time people hear about the survey shouldn’t be the email landing in their inbox with a link to take the survey. Hopefully, people are looking forward to taking part, this is a chance to engage and feedback and be heard.

If your organisation only gets 25% this isn’t necessarily all bad – unless there are only eight staff in the company. It is also possible to achieve 80% or 90%, even in larger organisations, although be careful of harassing people to complete their survey…

Does response rate matter?

Don’t get hung up on response rates. More important is to ask are your results representative? I would rather have a 50% response rate that has a good mix of all staff across the organisation, than achieve a 75% response rate and find that in one part of the business we have a tiny percent of responses.

Not getting the response rates you need? Get in touch!

* Survey response rates for customer surveys tend to have lower response rates – in the range 10-50% is common. One big difference between customer feedback and an employee survey is that businesses often attempt to contact customers who last had a transaction or contact with the company more than a year ago! Contact details can be out of date, engagement levels are very different, etc.

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