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How to increase response rates in post-training surveys

Even with the development of useful learning data that can be gathered from company learning management systems (LMSs), post-training surveys are still prevalent and their results are relevant. That’s because surveys offer valuable insights into learner opinion, an aspect that trainers can’t automate yet.

On the flip side, people are very careful with their time, and it's rather challenging to convince them to invest some of it into answering your questions. The response rates themselves are indicators of whether employees think that their feedback and input matter.

Moreover, a good response rate (depending on the number of learners) indicates that employees are invested in their training and believe their voice matters.

What to do to increase response rates in post-training surveys

Here are a few tips for increasing the number of responses in post-training surveys that will help you get not only more answers but also improve the quality of your future training programs:

  1. Establish your response rate target

    It's unlikely that all participants will answer all the questions. One hundred percent survey completion is something to be worried about as it could indicate that people felt coerced, and their answers are not even close to honest.

    So, what is a reasonable participation rate? It all depends on the size of your company. In small companies or teams (<less than 50 employees), the goal should be a little higher than the 65-85 percent range. As a decent benchmark in larger organizations, expectations can go a little lower at 70-80 percent. Companies of more than 1,000 employees can probably afford a participation rate of around 65 percent and still have relevant results. Keeping this in mind, you can decide what percentage of respondents will work in your case.

    Read more: 3 Best practices for L&D surveys that can be applied right away

  2. Mind questionnaire length

    On the one hand, asking enough questions and being thorough and specific is good for obtaining the information you need. That, however, only happens if people take the time to answer all the questions. In the context of busy workdays and digital fatigue, having people enthusiastically go through extensive questionnaires is idealistic.

    If there are too many items on the list, people will likely give random answers just to finish quicker. There is no optimal number of questions because it depends on the length and complexity of the learning intervention you are evaluating. However, it’s essential to do your best to keep the survey short and ask only the questions that are essential to the evaluation.

  3. Give an estimated time of completion

    Nobody likes to start something without having at least a rough estimate of how long it will take to complete. Make sure to provide respondents with this information. Additionally, tell them what the purpose of the survey is.

    This is an excellent place to reinforce the idea that their feedback is not only valuable but has the power to make an impact. Being transparent with this information will give learners a sense of empowerment, and they are more likely to answer the questions fully, truthfully, and thoroughly.

    Read more: Things to know about employee surveys

  4. Provide anonymity

    This is a critical aspect, especially in a digital world where you can't run a web search without immediately being flooded with ads afterward. It's not enough to leave names out. If you also ask people to disclose their role, department, and how long they've been with the company, they will no longer be anonymous.

    If you want them to be genuine and unconcerned about being identified, restrict your questions to the learning intervention and the participant’s experience. You can gather statistical data about the attendees at a different time, wholly separated from the end-of-training survey.

  5. Involve the managers

    Managers and team leaders are important stakeholders in learning interventions. Their teams should perform better or show a significant behavior change as a result of L&D efforts. It’s why managers need to be involved in the entire process, starting with the training needs analysis and ending with the final survey.

    Learning analytics are becoming increasingly relevant, and gathering this precious feedback can easily be translated into essential metrics for the team and the organization. Furthermore, if leaders are involved, it increases credibility in the idea that employee feedback is important.

    Read more: Why managers should be actively involved in training

  6. Send reminders

    An email may show up at an inconvenient moment. Even if we notice it, we move on to other tasks and then forget all about it. It happens to all of us. Often, surveys will go unanswered because they slip the employees’ minds.

    If you want to reach your completion goals, organize the survey as a targeted marketing campaign, make sure you send reminders (without being overly high-handed) and even offer incentives. You can get as creative as you’d like with this and try to aim for the humorous side, so you’ll come off as relaxed rather than pushy.

Getting more responses to post-training surveys

Post-training surveys are necessary for gathering valuable feedback and measuring important training KPIs. However, the structure and content of the surveys significantly influence the accuracy of the results. Following these tips will get you closer to more relevant ones.

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