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Survey fatigue? Blame the leader, not the question

While survey fatigue is real, there are many misconceptions around what drives it and how to overcome it

Source | | Alexander DiLeonardo | Taylor Lauricella | Bill Schaninger

This is a Golden Age for employee surveys. The assessment industry is dramatically growing, creating more options than ever, while new tech-enabled assets and increased accessibility make surveys easier than ever to deploy. This comes on top of a shift towards prioritizing employee listening—particularly in light of COVID-19.

Yet, we often hear from clients that their people suffer from survey fatigue, leading to a hesitancy to deploy diagnostics. While survey fatigue is real and deserves leaders’ attention, there are many misconceptions around what drives it and how to overcome it.

What drives survey fatigue

Survey fatigue refers to a lack of motivation to participate in assessments—and has the potential to impact response behavior. For example, employees who experience survey fatigue may be less likely to participate in a survey or complete it as instructed (e.g., selecting the same answer for each question), which can lead to inaccurate results.

A common belief is that survey fatigue is driven by the number and length of surveys deployed. That turns out to be a myth. We reviewed results across more than 20 academic articles and found that, consistently, the number one driver of survey fatigue was the perception that the organization wouldn’t act on the results. This was often informed by past experiences, where employees had not seen any communications or action as a result of previous surveys.

The opposite holds true: When organizations share and act on results, research suggested that employees were much more likely to participate in future surveys—and even respond more favorably.

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