How to get more people answering your survey

You’ve built a survey, now what?

Whether you’ve spent months organising an annual survey, or you just want to send around a quick question about air conditioning temps, it doesn’t mean anything if not enough people respond to you.

In order to get actionable responses, and a representation of as many perspectives as possible, you need to have a high response rate. When looking for a benchmark to see what a “good” completion rate is, you could find a number anywhere between 30-60%. It really depends on the size of your organisation. A 30% completion rate at a company of three employees is different to 30% at an organisation with over 1000 employees. 

Benchmarking is often going to get you started on the wrong foot - instead of seeing an industry average, you should look at your own response rate from previous surveys and work to improve it.

Getting more people to answer your survey

Once you’ve set a goal - it could be a 5% higher response rate than your last survey - it’s time to start collecting answers. 

Step one is to tell everyone about it, and not just through email. If you have in-person company-wide or department-wide meetings, add a small announcement at the end to remind people that the survey is out for them to complete. 

The more that people are reminded to complete the survey, the more likely they’ll do it. Try adding it as a calendar event, sending messages in Slack or making a poster to hang.

Make your survey easy to complete

If you write a survey with 100 questions that will take 45 minutes to answer, responses will be low. Instead, try sending the survey out in pulses; small sections of the survey that are quick and easy to answer instead of doing the whole thing at once. 

With Insights, this is done automatically for you, with the selection of questions varying from employee to employee so you get a cross-sectional view of the business from every pulse.

Make surveys anonymous

Some employees might be naturally shy, and not want to put their name on a survey. This isn’t always because they’re writing negative answers, they could be worried about being the only person to select a certain answer and stand out as a result. 

Anonymous answering will give those with negative opinions a level of safety to raise issues as well, which is important! All answers are equally valuable, whether they’re positive or negative. As a business owner or decision maker, you need to know the full spectrum of answers to help guide any changes that result from the survey.

Share the results of completed surveys quickly

If you share some select answers from a survey with your employees after it’s been completed, you can signal to them that you really do have intentions of taking action based on the responses. Many times, people won’t complete a survey because they think nothing will come out of it. 

By proving your commitment to listening to their comments and concerns, you’ll build trust with them that will result in them responding the next time you send a survey out. 

Follow this up with announcements phrased as “based on the responses in our last survey, we’ve listened and decided to do X” to reinforce the idea that your employees’ opinions matter and can create positive change.

Ask relevant questions

Including superfluous questions can be an annoying experience for the people who have to answer them, so trim the fat as much as you can. 

Our engagement survey question library was built by industry experts to make sure the questions are relevant, deliver meaningful insights, and avoid leading answers.

Make the questions easy to answer

Rather than requesting an essay for every answer, use quick response style questions with checkboxes or a strongly disagree to strongly agree scale. 

We use a scale style response and offer an optional written response attached to an area of the respondent’s choice at the end of every survey. This means they might answer five questions about how their L&D experience is, but finish it with a comment about a collaborative project they’re working on - this means they don’t have to wait to give that feedback, and they won’t forget what they wanted to say six weeks later when they get questions about their workload.

Ask for volunteers

Let’s say some of the feedback you got was that a large percentage of your workforce would like more social events. Putting together an employee-lead social group to organise and run events will help them feel that not only did you listen to them, you trust them with the initiative.

Should you offer incentives for survey completion?

This is up to your company culture. Some people will rush through a survey (no matter how short) to get something for free, meaning their answers are meaningless. Others will genuinely appreciate a token of appreciation at the end of a survey. 

You could offer thank yous in the form of holding a meeting to announce or discuss the results of the survey and have some snacks or catering out for people to nibble on while they listen. 

At the end of the day it’s up to you if you want to offer an incentive, but make sure to think about how often you can really afford to give kickbacks for participation, how you’ll do this for anonymous surveys, and how often you can get everyone together for a meeting.

Final words of advice

Out of all the points we’ve discussed here, the most important one is to simply start! Run one survey, measure how many people responded, then run another and see if the responses improve. 

If they do, great! Do it again. 

If they don’t, try one of our suggestions above and repeat. 

Create a rhythm and cadence to how often you release surveys, how often you share results, and build this into a routine that your employees can come to expect. It’ll make it less of an unexpected hassle next time you drop a survey on them, and they’ll know it’s worth their time if you’ve delivered positive change since the last survey.