Well, in short you can’t.  That is the beauty of anonymous surveys – there is no forcing anyone to complete.  And if you do try and force someone to complete a survey, I can pretty much guarantee that their responses won’t be an accurate reflection as they will be completing begrudgingly and more likely to select the same ranking for every question.

There are however a few tips that can help you get a higher response rate and encourage people to participate.

  1. Give people adequate time – but not too much time! A survey collection period of a month will make people think that they have “plenty of time and I’ll do it later”. Spoiler alert – they won’t. Give them too little time and you runt eh risk of having people away on leave, busy on other projects or just rushed for time.  In running surveys with project teams and organisations, we’ve found that between 7 to 14 working days is ideal.
  2. A gentle reminder doesn’t hurt. We all get busy and things sometimes fall through the cracks. If your responses aren’t tracking well, a friendly encouraging reminder a couple of days before the close date won’t annoy people – just make sure if you’re using a survey software that the reminder is only going to those that haven’t completed the survey.  In any collection period 1 – 2 reminders maximum!
  3. Design it right and keep it short. Nobody likes spending 30 minutes answering multiple choice questions or provided long winded answers. Make sure you design your questions with a clear outcome in mind – what are you trying to find out by sending out this survey? Keep the survey completion time to 5 minutes max.
  4. Anonymity is your friend. If you want people to provide open and honest feedback on how your project or organisation is really tracking – keep it anonymous and let people know that their feedback will be compiled into a report but that identities of responses will not be shared. Using an external party to administer the survey also assists.
  5. Share the results! This may appear to be a no brainer – but the most encouraging way to get people to complete a survey is to not only tell them that you will be sharing the results once available, but then actually sending them out within a guaranteed timeframe. Sending out the survey results 6 months after the survey has happened doesn’t help anyone. Things move quick!
  6. Action the feedback. If you do nothing with the results, why would people even bother completing your surveys in the future? If people have taken the time to complete a survey, identified areas for improvement or concerns, you need to make sure that you acknowledge and action the feedback. The onus doesn’t need to land entirely on you – refer the feedback onto the relevant party and communicate this.
  7. Measure progress. Regular point in time surveying will help you keep on track with an upwards trend in your results (isn’t that what you want?). It offers acknowledgement when things are going well, and quickly identify when things are starting to slip before it gets too late.

Survey fatigue is something that many organisations complain of, however if you make sure you follow the above tips, you’ll find that people will be less likely to complain about “another [insert expletive here] survey” and more likely to welcome the opportunity to provide their feedback.

If you’re still struggling to get your surveys on track, you can check out this blog on the topic or get in touch – we like this kind of thing!