One of the most common questions we hear from HR teams is how to avoid survey fatigue and to make sure they’re striking the balance between gathering enough feedback to improve the employee experience and not asking for too much that employees simply stop responding. Check out our top tips on how to avoid survey fatigue.

First, let’s start with a quick myth buster. Employees want to give feedback. And they want to do it more frequently than an annual engagement survey.

In our recent study on employee feedback, we asked people how much they wanted to be asked for feedback by their employer.

The most popular frequency in our study of 6,000 employees was ‘once every 3 months’, closely followed by ‘once every 6 months’. In fact, once a year came in with the same number or responses at once a month (a frequency that would ring alarm bells for many HR teams concerned by over-surveying).

There’s a clear split by demographics too — the younger an employee is, the more frequently they expect to give feedback. Only 5% of workers under 25 thought once a year was frequent enough and 31% of this age group said they expected to give feedback at least as often as once a week.

It’s hardly surprising – after all this is the generation that’s grown up on online reviews and social media giving them instant feedback on everything from the selfie they took on holiday or the meal they just had to the products they just bought.

5 ways to reduce survey fatigue and increase response rate

So in short, your employees want to give more feedback — great news for any HR team looking to build deeper insights into the employee experience! However, when you increase frequency, there is certainly the risk of survey fatigue, so here’s how to avoid the dreaded drop in response rates:

Automate feedback to gather insights in the moment

Think back to that training course you went on 9 months ago. How was it? Was the trainer good? Did you learn things you could apply in your day to day work? — it’s unlikely you’ll remember now, and there’s a fair amount of effort required to do so. But ask at the end of an interaction, and giving feedback is much more effortless, and employees are far more willing to do so. Combining your employee survey platform and your HRIS, you can automate surveys to ask the right questions in the right moment to help reduce effort and improve both response rate and the quality of the data you get back.

Show the impact of feedback

Feedback is a transaction, and like any transaction, it’s a two way process. Employees spend time and effort responding to surveys, and they expect to see an impact as a result. So make sure you’re communicating your improvement plans with employees so they know when they do respond to a survey, their input has an output on the other end.

Keep your employee surveys focused

It’s tempting to throw in extra questions to an employee survey — particularly if you survey infrequently — on ad hoc topics, but beware that if you lose focus, you may start to see survey fatigue creep in. Only ask essential questions, and ones which have a direct link to action.

Choose the right length of survey

Sending out a 40-question survey every week is a sure fire way to see response rates drop. Again, it comes down to effort. As a general rule, the more frequent a survey is, the shorter it needs to be. It’s fine for an annual engagement survey to be long, but as you move towards quarterly, monthly or even weekly pulse feedback, make sure to shorten your survey length. A quarterly pulse survey for example should have a maximum of 25 questions while a monthly pulse should have no more than 15.

Learn more about survey length and what to ask.

Avoid too many open-ended responses

Open text feedback is great for providing rich insights, particularly with advances in text analytics making it easier to draw out insights from the responses, but it also requires a lot of effort from the user. Items that need time and thought to answer can make the survey feel like a much larger effort to take for employees, especially when they have to re-answer them regularly. You should avoid having more than 2 or 3 open-ended items on any pulse survey. And if you do include them, make sure you make them optional — forced response questions have been shown to lead to a decrease in response rate.

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