Should Employees Be Forced to Answer Survey Questions?

Clients sometimes feel it is necessary to require an answer to every question in a questionnaire in order to get reliable data. It has been our experience, however, that requiring an answer to all the questions can have negative consequences:

  • It is frustrating for the employee to have to continually go back and answer questions they have skipped,
  • It can negatively impact your response rate as this frustration causes employees to skip the survey altogether,
  • Making the demographic questions required can cause employees to fear they may be identified, making their responses no longer anonymous.

The reality is 98% of employees answer all of the scaled questions (Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree) without being required to do so. The percentage is slightly lower for demographic questions. Those few that do skip some of the questions have no impact on the reliability of the data. With or without their answers the survey conclusions will be the same.

We recommend making a question required if:

  • The answers to the question will drive an important business decision
  • The answers are required to reach your survey objective.

Making your survey questions optional (with the exception of the most important ones) will improve the survey flow, decrease employee frustration, increase trust in survey anonymity and ultimately enhance your employee survey experience in the future.