How to Increase Your Employee Survey Response Rates

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There may be nothing worse than spending weeks writing, programming, and sending a survey to employees just to see a 2% response rate. 

First and foremost, I want to commend you for even taking interest in gathering team feedback. But, as an employee survey company, we understand that it’s frustrating to not be rewarded with an influx of actionable data as expected.

Want to know how to increase the response rate of your employee survey? You’ve come to the right place. 

Recently, Drive Research conducted an employee survey where we saw 3.6X the number of survey responses compared to when the client conducted the survey in-house. 

Want to know more about this project and our secret to success? Learn more below!

Why Employees Aren’t Answering Your Survey

A large corporation reached out to Drive Research to conduct an employee survey. The idea for the employee survey was to conduct a short, 10-question survey with employees every three months. 

The survey would include some employee survey key performance indicators (KPIs) that would be measured in each survey, as well as other questions to address new ideas/topics for improvement.

Initially, the company conducted employee surveys internally but saw low response rates.

From our experience, reasons why employees aren’t answering your survey include lack of confidentiality, little action taken from past staff surveys, and poor promotion of the project.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Remember that employee research can be customized to your unique needs. Some may do a larger survey every 1 to 2 years, while others may do a shorter survey more frequently. Ultimately, the choice may come down to how easily your firm can make changes. When conducting surveys more frequently, employees will expect to see changes. If they do not, you will likely see a drop in the response rate.

The Solution: Using a Third-Party

The key to success for the survey was to 1) ensure the questions asked were engaging and actionable and 2) ensure employees understood the survey was being conducted by a third party and their responses were kept anonymous.

All employees had email addresses, so each was sent an invitation to complete the survey via email. 

In addition to the first survey invite, 2 reminder emails were sent. In total, employees were given 2 weeks to complete the survey. A QR code with the survey link was also posted throughout common areas to promote participation.

💡 The Key Takeaway: If running a quarterly employee survey, remember to keep the survey short, engaging, and ensure employees that a third party is conducting the survey to keep their anonymity intact!

Approach to Increasing Employee Survey Responses

Using a third party to conduct employee surveys is truly important.

The process often includes a kick-off meeting, survey design, third-party survey invitations, data cleaning and analysis, and a debrief meeting to discuss how to take action with the results.

Or, there are also turn-key Voice of Employee solutions available for lower costs and quicker turnarounds.

Working with an employee survey company carries benefits such as:

  1. The survey is customized to meet the needs of your organization
  2. The survey questions use best practices and are unbiased
  3. It creates open and accurate communication with staff
  4. The results are analyzed by an independent third party, ensuring no bias during the analysis process

For this project, one of the keys to success was the pre-survey notice and the survey invite. It’s critical that employees know their responses will be collected by a third party and will be kept confidential and anonymous.

The pre-survey notice should be sent to employees from the leader of the company a few days before the first invite is sent. 

This sets the tone for the research, let's employees know who to expect the invite from, and confirms anonymity. 

Survey Pre-Notice

Here’s an example of a pre-survey notice.

Subject Line: Upcoming Employee Survey for [Example Company]

[Example Company] is working with Drive Research to conduct a survey with our employees. The purpose of this initiative is to better understand and measure employee satisfaction and engagement. 

As part of this effort, we have partnered with an independent market research company to conduct this important employee survey. Next week, the market research company will send you a short online survey via email to request your feedback.

Your feedback will help us understand the [Example Company] employee experience as well as where it performs well and where it can improve.

We truly want to hear from everyone, and it is important to know your responses will remain confidential with Drive Research. At no time will your personal information be tied to survey responses. 

I want to thank you in advance for your participation in this upcoming survey. The invitation will come from Drive Research at [insert sender email address] with the subject line, “Employee Survey: We Need Your Feedback on [Example Company]”.


Survey Invitation

The survey invite should confirm the time needed to complete the survey, anonymity, when to complete the survey, and who to contact at the survey company should they have any questions.

Here’s an example of an invite to an employee survey.

Subject Line: Employee Survey: We Need Your Feedback on [Example Company]!

We are conducting a short 5 to 10 minute employee survey on behalf of [Example Company].

Start Your Survey Now

Please complete this survey by no later than [2 weeks after fieldwork begins]. We will begin the analysis and reporting after this date. It is critical we hear from all employees.

Your feedback will be used to understand the [Example Company] employee experience as well as where it performs well and where it can improve. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers!

We truly want to hear from everyone, and it is important to know your responses will remain confidential with Drive Research. At no time will your personal information be tied to survey responses.

Survey Managed by Drive Research


(E) [email protected]

💡 The Key Takeaway: Third-party employee survey invitations utilize best practice language that often results in increased response rates. Plus, being that it is not sent through internal HR or leadership teams makes employees feel more comfortable sharing their honest opinions.

Results: Earning 3X More Employee Survey Responses

While the survey results remain completely confidential with the client, our employee survey company was able to get more than triple (3.6X) the number of responses compared to when the survey was conducted in-house. 

Truly, our secret to success is setting up clear communication with employees to confirm the employee survey will be conducted with a third party company.

The pre-survey notice can be customized and sets the tone for the research. The survey echos the sentiment from the pre-survey notice ensuring employees of their anonymity.

For more, watch this video before conducting market research in-house.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Before conducting an employee survey in-house, consider increasing the validity of the data and the response rate by working with a third party employee survey company. Want to know more about costs? Check out this post on the costs of outsourcing an employee survey.

Earn More Employee Survey Responses with Drive Research

Drive Research is a national market research company, that specializes in employee survey research across several sectors. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design a robust market research study, should it be the right fit for your business.

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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