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Win the battle against employee survey fatigue with this 5-point guide

Let me start with a simple question: How likely are you to respond to an email titled “Please fill out this survey”? If you’re anything like me, you would not reply to that mail unless it is for your boss’ daughter's school project. 

Despite being an effective means of sharing and receiving feedback, why is there such difficulty in obtaining survey answers? With an average employee survey response rate of 30%-40%, how can you have confidence in your survey insights if it isn’t representative of your workforce? 

Are your employees getting bogged down with too many surveys? Are the questions on those surveys irrelevant to them? Can it be pinned down to survey fatigue? How can you tackle this challenge? Keep reading…

What is employee survey fatigue, and why should you care?

Survey fatigue is when your employees do not show interest in answering surveys, There are several possible explanations for this trend:

  • They’ve answered too many surveys already

  • They find the questions too difficult, or irrelevant

  • They do not find value since there’s been little to no action taken from previous surveys and feedback efforts.

I sense an aha! moment coming in - the responses which skewed your analysis could have been from survey fatigue. Starting from ditched surveys, counterproductive results, or worse, employees misinterpreting surveys as intrusive or inefficient use of their time and bandwidth – not managing survey fatigue can have multiple drawbacks. 

Let’s dive deeper to understand why it happens and how you can identify it.

What are the types of employee survey fatigue?

The first step to tackling this challenge is identifying what kind of survey fatigue exists in your organization. Your employees may be experiencing one or more of the following types of survey fatigue.  

1. Over surveying fatigue

Surveys are a useful tool, and everyone is using it – product teams, your people team, scrum teams, and the list goes on. In plain English – your employees are tired of answering surveys! 

2. Question fatigue

This fatigue is observed when your survey questions are too complicated or don’t resonate with employees. The experience of answering such surveys is tiresome, and your employees will lose interest and zone out. 

3. Long survey fatigue

Have you ever felt anxious after seeing a long list of questions in a survey form? That’s long survey fatigue. Your employees may feel exhausted from answering too many questions. Longer surveys also risk covering too many unrelated feedback areas, yielding less valuable insights.

4. Insincere survey fatigue

Suppose employees have been sincere in answering your surveys in the past yet see no communication or action being taken. In that case, they are likely to be disheartened, demotivated, and ignore your surveys in the future.

A five-point guide to tackling employee survey fatigue

Surely, survey fatigue isn’t going to extinguish surveys! As employers and people managers, I believe we can do better than constantly nudging our employees to tell us how they feel this quarter on a naive scale of 1-10. 

1. Keep your surveys short and to the point

Personally vetting the value from a survey will take you a long way! Once you’ve created a survey, ask your team to take it first. Take time to re-curate the survey questionnaire if required.

Research suggests that, on average, respondents spend about 5 minutes in total answering a 10-question survey. But what is more interesting is that respondents take more time per question when the survey is shorter.

However, a short survey doesn’t necessarily need fewer questions if it takes less time to answer – be mindful of the number of questions and the time it takes to answer your survey. Remember, the goal is to get a good quality of answers, not a good quantity!

2. Personalize surveys for better participation

One of the most significant reasons for survey disinterest is their generic nature. Before you begin, explain the value of the survey, and tell the employee why they should care. Look at it from their perspective: If an organization cares enough to ask a relevant question, it will also care enough to deliver action on it.

One way to personalize surveys is by asking questions based on the stage of the employment journey an employee is in. An employee who has completed 30 days on the job should be asked questions that are different from someone who’s completed a year and has gone through a manager change. By adopting this approach of taking employee feedback across the employee lifecycle, Sodexo was able to increase its survey response rate to 82%

3. Communicate results and act on feedback in real-time

Knowing that their input will make a tangible difference in how their company operates makes employees feel acknowledged. Beyond your regular “thank-you” emails– communicate with your employees and close the feedback loop.

Inform them that their feedback has been received and forwarded to the relevant stakeholder. Provide them with a goal-oriented timeline of what actions your team intends to take. Meaningful surveys tie back to the organizational goals with a plan to implement changes inspired by the responses.

It is no surprise that action-oriented surveys incentivize your employees to participate in future surveys: they are 12 times more likely to be engaged the following year than those who don’t experience follow-up. 

4. Empower your employees to share feedback independently

Enable a culture of feedback. Instead of enforcing a survey schedule, encourage your employees to engage in dialogue and initiate feedback when they want to and on their schedule. 

It helps to have anonymized feedback forums where employees have a safe space. This is especially important when employees want to discuss difficult or sensitive issues. On some days this gives employees a channel to vent. On some other days, it saves a life. 

Here’s a true story of how the Anonymous Bat feature in Amber helped us save a life in 2022.

 

Every effort you make to take feedback and act on it counts.

5. Leverage the power of Conversational AI

Conversational AI solutions are gaining extraordinary popularity. With speedy adoption across almost all industries, Gartner reports that 70% of white-collar workers will regularly interact with conversational platforms. Surveys have long been integral to business intelligence – from collecting external consumer insights to internal employee satisfaction levels. As businesses evolve from brick-and-mortar entities to global and hybrid spaces – it is time for the next generation of conversational AI-driven surveys.

The advantages?

✅ Provide a non-intrusive and near-human experience to your employees.

✅ Customize when your employees are approached based on research.

✅ Gain real-time visibility of your employees’ apprehensions and satisfaction. 

✅ Leverage predictive analytics to immediately identify at-risk employees.

✅ Reduce the hours spent on analyzing data; spend more time taking action.

Once you’ve solved survey fatigue, you’ve also solved this

For most surveys, you'll want to encourage completion by either offering a small reward or making it clear that the survey is required. But by knowing how to approach your survey, and by thinking about how you can make it easy to complete, you can go a long way in fighting survey fatigue.

  1. Keep your surveys short.
  2. Personalize them.
  3. Take action on feedback in real time.
  4. Build trust with anonymous feedback options.
  5. Make your surveys conversational.

Doing this will not only help to increase the response rate on employee surveys, but it will also prepare you for unforeseen situations like attrition of top talent and employees quitting quietly. 


Want to replicate Lenovo’s secret of achieving a 90% response rate on their employee surveys? Talk to Amber today!


Meet Amber


Shivangi Gautam
Shivangi Gautam

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