10 Effective Ways To Improve Employee Survey Response Rates

Katie Liston


Employee Feedback

Foster a feedback culture that encourages employees to share honest, constructive criticism. Learn how to improve employee survey response rates by building a people-first organization.

If your employees are afraid to share their views, you have no way of gathering the employee feedback you need to make your workplace suited for team members—a recipe for employee turnover.

Boosting employee survey response rates begins with a “people-first” approach.

Design, present, and act on surveys with the employees’ best interests in mind. You can get employees’ buy-in to your employee surveys when you create a work environment that favours feedback.

7 ways to get honest feedback from employee surveys

Will your workforce tell the truth? Foster trust and openness with your employees using these tips.

What Is a Good Response Rate for an Employee Survey?

Ideally you want as many of your employees as possible responding to your employee surveys. After all, employee surveys are designed to gauge your employees feelings as a whole, meaning the more employees that respond, the more accurate feedback you’ll receive.

Average employee survey response rates range from 25%-60%. This number is heavily influenced by how you present surveys to employees and whether they feel like their feedback will be seriously considered.

Employee survey response rate benchmarks

Employee survey response rates can be used as a useful benchmark for overall employee engagement. How willing your employees are to share their feedback on your surveys reflects their engagement at work in general.

Measure and average your current employee survey response rates, and then create realistic goals to reach in the future. Not only will you receive more employee feedback, but you’ll have a tangible metric for showing the success of your employee engagement efforts.

10 Best Ways to Improve Employee Survey Response Rates

How your employees respond to your employee surveys is influenced by myriad factors. Company culture, internal communication frequency, leadership actions, and other influences all affect how willing your employees are to share their feedback.

Let’s examine several different ways you can encourage employees to take part in your surveys to increase employee survey response rates.

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1. Get leadership on the same page

To get leadership to buy-in, you need to align your employee survey’s goals with the company’s overall goals.

Suppose you’re trying to get employees’ opinions on tools and technology investments that might increase efficiency. You’d need the head of the relevant division—people ops, finance, or operations—to be willing to implement the tools in the first place. Otherwise, you won’t be able to act on the survey results.

How can you get leadership, management, and other stakeholders on board before reaching out to employees? Keep the following tips in mind:

Find mutual goals. Consensus decision-making results in high-quality decisions with solid support for follow-through. Creating consensus requires a mutual purpose; it’s a symbiotic process in which all parties agree to act in the best interest of a whole.

Time your pitch. Timing is essential in communication. If the person on the other side of the conversation isn’t in the right frame of mind, your idea might get vetoed regardless of how great it is. Before you ask about the survey, set the stage by requesting a meeting to discuss what you have in mind and pique their interest. If leadership talks to you about employee attrition rates, be proactive and use the opening to offer a potential solution through employee surveys.

2. Let employees know surveys are safe spaces

Research shows that 25% of full-time employees withhold feedback for fear of consequence. Employees need to know survey responses won’t affect their job status to encourage participation and increase survey response rates.

You can provide a safe space for your employees by promising anonymity in your company’s employee surveys. There are numerous kinds of employee surveys which you can explore via our free email templates for employee surveys. By allowing feedback to be anonymous, you’re more inclined to receive honest responses over lip service.

ContactMonkey’s survey feature offers anonymous employee surveys and an optional text box for employees to elaborate on their answers:

Screenshot of anonymous employee feedback box inserted into an email using ContactMonkey's email template builder.

Encourage managers to start an open line of communication with their trusted team members, or alternately, make a 360-degree review part of the organization’s review process.

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3. Ensure surveys work across your employees devices

If your employees are unable to easily access your surveys, then your overall response rate is going to suffer. Employees use a variety of devices and email services to access employee surveys, and it’s up to you to ensure that your surveys will work for them regardless of how your employees view them.

Use responsive HTML emails to ensure your employee surveys are easily-accessible from your employees’ desktop or mobile email inboxes. HTML emails let employees respond directly from their inboxes, maintain formatting on various interfaces, and are smaller in size than similar non-HTML emails which means they send and load quickly.

With ContactMonkey’s email template builder, you can use drag-and-drop controls to easily build great-looking HTML-based employee surveys. These emails will display in your employees’ inboxes without additional resources or loading, so your employees can respond quickly and easily:

Screenshot of employee survey question embedded into an email using ContactMonkey's email template builder.

By removing as many hurdles as possible for your employees to fill out your surveys, you can help contribute to a higher employee survey response rate.

4. Explain the value of employee participation

When employees know you’re listening to what they have to say, they’re more likely to speak up. But not every employee feels this way—especially if they belong to older generations.

If you’re managing a multigenerational workforce, show that you’re paying attention by sharing the reason you’re asking for feedback—before sending your survey. Most importantly, be clear about what you plan to do with the feedback.

  • Inform them that sharing feedback is in employees’ best interest. You can’t change an unpleasant situation if you aren’t aware of it in the first place.
  • Let employees know that you will listen with an open mind, no matter how big or small the issue is.
  • Communicate that you will respond to the feedback, and you plan on acting on their suggestions.

Explaining the value of employee participation will help your organization in the long run as it can encourage employees to respond to your surveys, and reinforce that you’re planning to act on the feedback.

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5. Make the survey easy to complete

Did you know that employee surveys that took longer than 7 minutes to complete dropped anywhere from 5% to 20% in response rates? Stick to these employee survey best practices to make your questions simple to answer and improve employee survey response rates:

  • Make surveys short and sweet. Surveys with more than 12 questions see a 17% drop in response rate.
  • Start and end the survey with easy questions. A simple yes/no or multiple-choice question would be ideal.
  • Use simple language. Avoid jargon to make the survey digestible.
  • Don’t make open-ended questions mandatory. This requires more time investment and doesn’t make analysis easy. Alternately, optional text boxes can be excellent sources of detailed feedback.
  • Pay attention to survey design. Surveys with UX design in mind—using an attention-grabbing font, a layout with adequate white spaces, and leveraging color psychology—can make all the difference and improve employee survey response rates.

Pulse surveys can be a great alternative to traditional, lengthy annual surveys. They take minutes to complete, whereas annual surveys require more in-depth responses. You can check in with employees regularly and gain quick insight into a specific business area, such as company culture, and track company progress on an ongoing basis.

With ContactMonkey, you can easily embed pulse survey questions in your employee emails. Gather real-time employee feedback through multiple survey options—star ratings, emoji reactions, thumbs up/down, and more.

Not sure what questions to include in your employee survey? Try using ContactMonkey’s OpenAI ChatGPT integration to generate unique survey questions. Simply write a prompt describing what you’d like your survey to accomplish and edit the suggested questions according to your audience.

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6. Follow up, but don’t badger unless absolutely necessary

There’s a fine line between following up and making employees feel obligated to comply. Unless employee responses are crucial to the organization’s decisions, make the survey optional.

In the case of optional surveys, it’s okay to remind your employees to respond after you’ve sent out a survey—but don’t put them on the spot. One way to do this gently is by reiterating the importance of why you’d like employees to contribute and reinforce the idea that their voice counts.

But don’t go overboard with the reminders. Though sending out a mass reminder is acceptable, it’s inappropriate to corner employees in the office or ask them individually if they’ve taken the survey.

7. Communicate the results of the survey

Always let employees know your findings from the survey. Make it clear that the organization values employee feedback and plans to act on the feedback received. Sharing employee survey results might also help improve employee survey response rates in the long run.

Moreover, the transparency boosts employees’ trust in the companies’ responses to the survey. Without sharing the results, employees may wonder whether the company’s actions are based on the most common feedback.

There are multiple ways you can share the results of the survey:

  • Create a presentation that includes data visualization. Seeing the numbers in a graph or chart will make it easier for employees to absorb the information quickly. You can present the findings in an all-hands meeting.
  • You could also share the survey results asynchronously, where leadership or responsible parties can record a video sharing the survey results and how they plan to respond to improve the situation.
  • As a follow-up and for the sake of transparency, we recommend sharing the survey results report via email so employees can access the information later if they need to. ContactMonkey is a robust internal communications tool with survey integration. Measure open and click rates of your follow-up emails to gauge employee interest in the survey results.

Communicate results to minimize perception gaps and keep leadership and employees aligned on areas for improvement and wins.

8. Act on employee feedback

Sharing survey results with employees is simple. Taking meaningful action based on this feedback? That’s the hard part—90% of workers said that they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback.

If employees don’t see action based on their feedback, they might think it’s not valued. Communicate your survey-based action plan to employees as soon as it’s set. This transparency keeps employees involved and lets them know how their feedback influenced the organization’s decisions.

Send employees regular updates through the implementation process to share progress. Using ContactMonkey, you can schedule your emails to be sent at regular intervals; just set it and forget it:

Screenshot of scheduled email sending using ContactMonkey's internal communications tool.

Alternately, you could record a video and share it internally. Plugging in a pulse survey with these updates will also help you gauge how employees perceive these changes.

9. Optimize employee survey send times

How can you easily increase your employee survey response rates? Send your surveys when your employees are most likely to read them! Your employees are creatures of habit, and likely look at their inboxes at similar times during the week. You can get more eyes on your surveys by ensuring that they’re sent when they’re most likely to appear at the top of your employees’ inboxes.

ContactMonkey’s email analytics dashboard charts how and when your employees look at your email campaigns:

Screenshot of engagement distribution timeline within ContactMonkey's campaign overview dashboard.

Using this data, you can easily determine the best times to send employee emails, and boost the response rates on your surveys. Use the scheduled sending options we mentioned above to send your employee surveys at peak times when your employees are reading their emails.

If your organization has internal or external regulations around email privacy, you can use ContactMonkey’s anonymous email tracking to gather email metrics while maintaining your employees’ privacy.

10. Send reminders to deskless employees

We spoke about reminding employees about ongoing employee surveys in order to increase response rates. But many employees don’t have constant access to their computers or inboxes. How can you remind deskless employees to fill out a survey when they get the chance?

With the rise of mobile devices, even deskless employees can be reached via SMS employee communications. Using ContactMonkey’s SMS text features, you can send brief reminders to employees to fill out surveys when they get the chance. This can be done from the same place where you create and track your other employee emails:

Screenshot of SMS campaign dashboard within ContactMonkey's internal communications tool.

Similar to your email campaigns, you can view stats about your employee text messaging system which you can cross-reference with your employee survey rates.

You can also target only your deskless employees with surveys by using custom email lists. Using ContactMonkey’s List Management feature, you can create unique email lists to increase email engagement and reduce the number of irrelevant emails your employees receive. Create custom email lists—without needing IT—that integrate with your Human Resource Information System (HRIS) like Workday and ADP, as well as Azure Active Directory, so they’ll automatically update.

Invest in a Tool That Helps You Improve Employee Survey Response Rates

You’ve implemented these practices to make employees feel comfortable responding to surveys—great! Now, make the most of increased engagement. Send out surveys more frequently to quickly assess progress and gather the “pulse” of employees’ feelings. Try conducting an employee motivation survey to see what really matters to your team, and then act on their feedback.

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ContactMonkey is a trusted internal communications tool built to improve employee engagement. Use ContactMonkey to collect employee feedback. Simplify survey creation and analysis through multiple survey options and our software’s built-in email template builder.