Employee Engagement

How To Encourage Survey Participation And Incentivize Employees

July 20, 2022
min read

Surveys are a great way to facilitate communication between employees and management and can be a productive tool to help your team have their voices heard. 

Through this method, you can gather information about how your team feels about their individual positions, the company itself and any concerns or conflicts that have arised. You’ll be able to find out how your employees feel about their workplace and the changes they'd like to see that will make it better.

It’s important to encourage survey participation and provide meaningful space for your team to offer their suggestions and experience as they move forward with the company. 

In this article, we’ll explore the significance of a high survey response rate and outline ways you can increase survey participation in the future.

Why A High Survey Response Rate Is Important

When conducting an employee survey, keep in mind that the higher the response rate, the better and the more individuals that participate, the more accurate the results. 

 When only 20% of your employees participate, for example, you won't get a holistic, well-rounded view of your employees’ thoughts and opinions. 

The data also won’t be representative of your entire workforce and this only creates obstacles while trying to make improvements that are meant to benefit the majority of employees working there.  

A higher response rate lets you identify common problems and trends easier while also maintaining concrete, actionable insights. The purpose of an employee survey is to help understand how the company is working internally and with accurate data, you can put in productive strategies that will better serve your employees. 

What Is A Good Survey Response Rate?

Even though a high response rate is ideal, it’s important to remain realistic in your expectations. Understand that not everyone will participate, especially in a larger organization, so a 100% response rate is not an authentic presumption. 

An ideal survey response rate varies depending on the size of your company:

  • Small companies (less than 50 employees): 80-90%
  • Medium-sized companies (about 500 employees): 70-80%
  • Large companies (more than 1 000 employees): 65-80%  

6 Ways To Encourage Survey Participation From Your Employees

Gaining feedback from your employees is essential to the success of your business as it helps understand what common problems are, and how to improve them. This in turn can provide greater employee satisfaction and retention in the workplace. 

Simply, by remaining aware of how your employees perceive their professional experience, you can maintain the well-oiled machine that is the company and surveys are a great way to gather this information!

The main consideration that should be taken is increasting how many employees take part in regular surveys. Continue reading for ways that you can encourage survey participation and boost your survey response rate!

1. Explain The Survey Outcomes And Expectations

Inform your employees what the survey is really about, how it relates to them, and how long it will take to complete. Honesty and transparency will encourage survey participation. 

Employees are more likely to complete a survey if it doesn’t take considerable time from their day and involve taxing effort. Introduce incentives like, “this will only take 5 short minutes of your time” to relieve the pressure of added work. 

Avoid handing out lengthy surveys as well, and reassure your team that it will be quick and easy!

On top of that, your employees will not complete a survey if they don’t understand how it relates to them or how it can benefit them. Make sure employees know that the survey is intended to improve the workplace for everyone.

If you want to show the employee that their specific response is important, you need to explain in detail:

  • What the purpose of the survey is
  • What it sets out to achieve
  • How it connects to the specific employees that are taking part

It’s also important to avoid coming across as detached or have the survey be perceived as a box-ticking exercise.

Personalizing the survey invitation as best you can also helps improve response rates! By addressing employees as individuals, you come across as warmer and more personal.

Make it clear that you are specifically inviting them to partake in the survey because you are interested in and value their opinion. 

2. Think About The Timing Carefully

Give employees enough time to finish the survey. Two weeks should be more than enough, but you may want to give a shorter period as it can reduce the risk of employees procrastinating or forgetting to do the survey.

Send them positive reminders of when the survey needs to be completed but rather than asking your employees personally whether they have completed the survey or not, send a general email reminder to not add pressure to individuals specifically. 

Keep the company calendar in mind too. If it’s a busy time of year for employees, such as just before Christmas for those in retail, it’s beneficial to postpone it until a quieter period.  

Related: Step-By-Step Guide To Creating An Employee Engagement Survey

3. Keep The Questions Clear And Concise

The most common reason why employees skip questionnaires is that they seem too long and complicated so keeping your surveys short and focused will encourage survey participation - the easier the survey appears, the higher the chances of completion.

People’s decision to respond is heavily influenced by how confusing the questions are as well. When asked too many questions, people can also start to feel pressured to provide just as lengthy responses.

Long, complex questions can prevent the thorough responses you are hoping for and they have the potential of deterring your employees from responding at all.

For example, instead of asking, “How would you describe your current work conditions and what would you suggest to improve these conditions?”, split it into two separate questions.

Closed-ended questions, like yes/no or multiple-choice questions, are great for gaining quick, clear feedback. However, you can gain insightful feedback from open-ended questions too. That’s why we recommend using both in your surveys. 

Use closed-ended questions for quicker responses at the beginning and then a couple of open-ended questions near the end for good measure. 

4. Emphasize Privacy And Confidentiality 

Employees will not want to complete a survey if they feel their answers will be held against them or they will be held accountable for their words. Lack of trust can destory the productivity of the survey.

Reassure your employees that their identities will remain anonymous and emphasize that their answers will be confidential.

Your employees need to know that you will not publicize their answers with their names or other identifying information so be clear that the company will only use them to draw meaningful conclusions from all the survey data. 

It’s recommended to include privacy reassurance in the header of the survey. This information should be the first thing they see when opening the survey. 

For example, say something like "only the final combined data will be reported. Your personal information will not be linked to your answers."

Easing your employees’ privacy concerns will increase their motivation to complete the survey. 

5. Make The Survey User-Friendly

When trying to encourage survey participation, employers often overlook the elements of ease and accessibility.

Online surveys done on a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone will probably have a higher response rate than written surveys. Ensure that the employee survey can be clearly presented on both desktop and mobile platforms. It’s all about keeping the level of ease high and the level of effort low!

Many employees will see the survey notification on their smartphones first. As such, they may want to complete the form straight from their phones. 

On top of this, keep your online surveys as neat and clean as possible. Your survey page should be free of any distracting popups.

Any distractions or irritation that accompany your survey page could reduce the value of the answers you receive.

Again, the easier it seems to complete the survey, the more likely your employees are to respond. 

6. Incentivize The Survey

Our last tip to encourage survey participation is to use incentives. Rewards and incentives are excellent motivating factors for employees to perform a task or action.

You will see an immediate increase in your survey response rates once you offer your employees appealing rewards in return for their responses. 

These incentives can be in the form of small rewards for everyone in a larger group of individuals. You could also offer a few big rewards and run the survey like a competition.

If you wish to harvest a lot of employee information quickly, we recommend using a cut-off period. 

You could also end the survey and the opportunity of receiving a reward after you have the target number of completed surveys. 

Or, you can motivate your employees to complete the survey sooner by saying, for example, "The first 50 completed surveys will qualify for a reward". 

To effortlessly reward your employees, PerkUp is an amazing platform! With PerkUp, you can easily issue pre-loaded Visa cards to your employees and they can then spend their credit on a reward of their choosing. 


Encouraging your employees to partake in surveys can be difficult. That being said, the only way you will know what to work on in the company is by asking the people that are involved in it’s daily development. 

As such, surveys are critical for ensuring workplace wellbeing and employee satisfaction.

You, as an employer, must always try to stay in the loop with employees. Engage with them regularly and welcome all valuable feedback to ensure you’re doing all you can to create a good work environment. 

When conducting surveys, use our 6 tips to encourage participation and get more accurate results that you can implement to boost the success of your business!

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