The response rate to a staff survey is often taken as a measure of engagement in itself: how many of your staff care enough to spend 15 minutes filling in your organisation’s survey?

I am frequently asked by anxious clients whether their response rate is ‘good’ or not. Working in the sector gives one a fair sense of what can be expected here – but luckily we can go one step further by looking at historical data.

Analysis of over 250 staff engagement surveys, all undertaken in the voluntary sector, shows the following response rates:

So getting three quarters of your staff to respond to your survey is a fair, middle of the road result. Anything over 90% is excellent, and less than half is poor.

This picture varies a bit by sector: in both social care and international organisations, the median is 62%, while in INGOs it is 87%.


But where response rates are concerned, size matters – more so indeed than sector. The following graph shows the lower quartile, median and upper quartile of response rates, broken down by organisation headcount:

So, in organisations of fewer than 50 staff, a response rate of 90% is standard (the upper quartile is an impressive 99%). At the other end of the spectrum, organisations with over 1000 staff tend to achieve a median 56% response rate.

Hopefully these statistics will help you to contextualise your own organisation’s response rates.


If you have any questions about this blog, or our research findings, please email Tim Walters or call 01865 263720.

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