• Patrick Jones - Sr. Project Analyst

What is Satisficing? How to Capture the Best Results in Your Employee Engagement Survey

Employee engagement surveys are great tools for understanding what is working well and what is causing frustration within your organization. With the effort it takes to develop, distribute, and then tabulate and report the results, it simply doesn’t make sense to use poor quality responses. “Satisficing” describes when respondents put a bare minimum of effort to complete their responses. On the surface, it may seem like a minor concern, especially when participation seems like such a priority. Nonetheless, satisficing can have a serious and often hidden impact on your data, which makes reducing it an important concern.


Satisficing can actually be worse than having a low response rate or respondents quitting halfway through the survey. When an employee doesn’t participate or doesn’t finish, it can be frustrating to lose that potential response, but it doesn’t impact the quality of the data you do collect. However, when respondents begin satisficing, by responding without real thought or consideration, you now have bad data mixed in with the good. Even worse, it can be very hard to tell when a respondent is doing it, so once it has happened, there is little that can be changed. Before you panic, it’s not as common as you may think and with a few small adjustments you can make it even less likely to occur in your survey.


Tips to Reduce Satisficing in Your Employee Engagement Survey

Keep It Short

Even the most willing survey respondents will lose interest if they feel the survey is dragging on and taking too long to complete. Employee engagement surveys should ideally take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete. While there is some debate about it, longer surveys can often benefit from utilizing a progress bar to help people stay focused on reaching the end.


Keep It Simple

Along with keeping surveys short, keeping questions simple also helps maintain respondents’ interest. When respondents struggle to interpret a question or have to re-read it, they are more likely to settle for an answer without thinking it through. Focus on keeping questions clear and concise.


Remove “Don’t Know” and “No Opinion” Options

While there is a case to be made for including these options in some surveys, they are also definite factors in encouraging satisficing behaviour. Including a “Don’t Know” or “No Opinion” option provides respondents with an easy answer that does not require any thought. Unless it is important to identify people who respond with one of these options, it’s best to not offer these options. Compellingrespondents to choose the answer that fits most closely will result in better data.

Ask Important Questions First

If respondents are going to satisfice, they are likely going to do it towards the end of the survey as their attention waivers. To receive the best responses to the most important questions, place these questions at the start of your employee engagement survey.


Clearly Communicate the Value of the Survey

To encourage sincere participation, clearly communicate the goals of the survey and the positive actions you hope to take based on their responses. To a certain degree, asking staff to complete an employee engagement survey is asking them for a favour. Make sure staff understand the value of thoughtful responses and the benefits their input can yield in the future.


Make Engagement Surveys Voluntary, Not Mandatory

As a general rule, the higher the participation rate the better the data. That said, when employees are required by management to participate there is a higher chance they will provide hasty and less thoughtful responses. Voluntary responses provide much more valuable data. By communicating a survey’s value and actively promoting it, you can achieve strong voluntary participation with quality responses.

To learn more about the services Flex Surveys offers and how they can help your team, contact us at 877.327.5085 or visit our Contact Page to set up a demo.

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