Frequently Asked Questions
What is a typical employee survey response rate?
Typically, employee survey response rates can be as low as 30%, with anything over 70% seen as a very good response rate.
A higher response rate increases our confidence in the findings, and the more representative and reliable the results, the more likely we are to take the right actions and achieve a much more beneficial impact overall. It is always worth investing the time and effort required to achieve a high standard of data quality, including a high response rate.
The various actions, which together increase both the response rate and the quality of your responses, all link back to two key principles. Firstly, respondents need to know "What's in it for me?" We need to communicate the genuine intent to listen to and act on the feedback so they can be sure it is worth their time to complete the response, and ideally, to complete it thoughtfully. Secondly, we need to make it as easy as possible for them. This includes a short, relevant, well-designed questionnaire; conveniently timed distribution and reminders; and reassurance of anonymity.
Our top tip to increase your response rate? Share the actions taken and the positive impact of past surveys (if you can).
Are employee surveys really confidential?
Employee surveys are not always confidential. Confidentiality varies depending upon the employer, the survey provider and the aims of the survey.
The most important consideration is full transparency and communication about the level of confidentiality and anonymity. It is essential to ensure participants have a complete understanding of how their responses and data will be handled and shared.
If you can offer anonymity, this will significantly increase the reliability and candour of your responses. Working with an external company makes this much easier to achieve and sends a strong signal to your employees.
Our preferred approach is to provide a fully anonymous survey with the option for respondents to provide a name and other identifiable details at the very end of the questionnaire. We find many employees are happy to add their name, which is useful if further information or action is needed, but for those who wish to stay anonymous, their views and experiences can still be included.
How long should an employee survey be kept open?
An employee survey should usually remain open for two to four weeks.
Our data shows that if a survey is open for four weeks, 61% of the responses will be received by the end of the first week, 79% by the end of the second week and 92% by the end of the third week, when the data is considered cumulatively. Or if you would prefer to see this in weekly totals: 61% in week one, 18% in week two, 13% in week three and 8% in week four. (These figures presume reminders are sent on days 14 and 21.)
Very few people will respond after you reach the four-week point and it would be more beneficial to close your survey, finalise your results and focus upon the actions at this stage, rather than chase a handful of extra responses.
We would always encourage a survey to remain open for at least two weeks to enable as many participants to respond as possible and increase the quality and validity of your data.
Between two and four weeks, there is a balance to be struck between wanting to increase responses and wanting to finalise the results and actions. This balance should be considered for the individual organisation.
What is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and should we use it in our employee survey?
The Net Promoter Score (NPS), sometimes called the Friends and Family Test (FFT), is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of an organisation's consumers. The organisation can be a company, employer or any other entity. The consumer is the customer, employee or respondent to the survey.
The following survey questions may be used:
"On a scale of 0 - 10, how likely are you to recommend working at our organisation to your friends and family?" and/or
"On a scale of 0 - 10, how likely are you to recommend our products or services to your friends and family?"
Responses are split into three categories. Those who respond with a score of 9 to 10 are labelled Promoters. Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 are labelled Detractors. Responses of 7 and 8 are labelled Passives.
The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of consumers who are Detractors from the percentage of consumers who are Promoters, hence the "net" value. Passives simply count towards the total number of respondents, thus decreasing the percentage of detractors and promoters and pushing the net score towards 0.
NPS = Promoters % - Detractors %
An NPS can be as low as −100 (every respondent is a "Detractor") or as high as +100 (every respondent is a "Promoter").
NPS scores vary across different industries, but a positive NPS (i.e., one that is higher than zero) is generally deemed good, an NPS of +30/50 is generally deemed excellent, and anything over +70 is exceptional.
In terms of whether to include the NPS in your survey, there are three things to consider:
1) The question itself.
We would always encourage employers to ask the question regarding whether their employees would recommend them as this is a very illuminating question in terms of employee sentiment.
2) The subsequent question.
We would always follow the numeric question with a subsequent open, freetext question asking why the respondent has given the score they have. These responses are hugely informative.
3) The data analysis and presentation.
Calculating the NPS "score" is only useful where it is well understood, and even then it can be controversial. There are alternative methods for analysing and presenting the data for this question. For example, you may wish to measure the percentage scoring 7 or above, if this better fits your internal goals.
The NPS method almost ignores those scoring 7 and 8, and in our experience, many employers would rather focus upon getting a high majority to 7 and above, than predominantly focus on those at the extremes. There are pros and cons to the different analysis approaches but the question itself and, in particular, the linked freetext question asking for the "Why?" are very useful. However the quantitative data is presented, the best approach is to accompany the figures with a summary of the qualitative comments.