The employee participation rate gauges the reliability of your survey results. The score itself is a key measure of employee engagement. It indicates employees' willingness to share their opinion and feelings toward your company. A low participation rate indicates a warning signal on talent attrition. Non-respondents having a 2.7x higher likelihood of leaving the company within 6 months.
So, the higher the participation rate, the better. But the truth is, HR leaders spend hours and a lot of energy and resources on employee surveys to get very low participation scores at the end.
What is a good response rate?
As a rule of thumb 80% is considered representative of the workforce. However reliable survey participation rates depend on the size of a company. Companies with less than 1000 employees should target a 75% / 80% score. Companies with 1000 seats and more can consider 65% participation rate as relevant enough.
5 tips to increase your participation rate
1. Design a good survey
A significant part of the employee’s participation score depends on the quality of the survey's itself. Building the right survey is a challenge: you need to find the right question, the right length, the right sample, the right communication, and the right periodicity…
Once you have chosen the purpose, defined the sample and the frequency you can start to craft the questions. However, make sure that each question is well articulated and send the right signal to the employee.
2. Create a positive experience
Keep the survey short and sweet. Make questions that all respondents can understand and try to keep it under 2-3 minutes or 30 questions. Ensure a frictionless experience and make the surveys accessible on mobile (and other channels).
Ensure employees anonymity. Outsourcing the survey with a third party provider can give them confidence in sharing their voice. But your still need to allow managers to acknowledge and clarify responses anonymously to ensure a clear understanding of the employee's feedback.
One benefit of creating a positive experience and a multi-channel communication is that everyone in the company is aware of the company’s goals.
3. Create a successful communication plan.
Communication is key. Share the purpose of this survey and what you plan to do with the results even before running the first survey.
Support from the executive team is critical, ideally, have the most senior person in the company communicate the importance of the survey and why employees should care.
Keep emphasizing the confidentiality of responses in each of your communication. This is why it might be better to outsource the survey rather than running it internally. The fewer employees feel they can be identified by their responses, the better.
Send reminders in multiple ways: direct email to employees, promote the survey in the company newsletter and encourage employee's participation during meetings or one to one, etc.
Communicate the next steps and how employees will benefit from the practical changes resulting from the feedback analysis. This helps create engaged employees who are aware of the purpose of their organization.
4. Track score in real time & involve management
Keep track of the participation in real-time and focus on team-level scores. Share with managers the results and your expectations.
Get managers on board and hold team accountable for low participation rates in their own departments. Leaders need to know that the lack of participation is directly, or indirectly, a reflection of their leadership and that they actually have the capability to boost the employees' participation score.
Share results and prepare the next survey
It's important to share survey results quickly to demonstrate the company's commitment to open communication and to help the employee feel their voices matter. Keep closing the loop between results and follow up actions with employees.Create a positive experience will allow employees to stay engaged in the feedback process and encourage their participation to the next survey.
Run feedback surveys more frequently to encourage employee's participation and create an open culture. Compared to a traditional annual survey, short and targeted pulse surveys take less time to complete and stay relevant. Thus, participation is likely to be higher.