Survey Nonresponse and Job Satisfaction

Topic(s): job satisfaction, surveys
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (March 2013)
Article: Nonresponse in employee attitude surveys: A group-level analysis
Authors: Fauth, T., Hattrup, K., Mueller, K., & Roberts, B.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Using surveys to assess the job satisfaction of employees is widely understood to be a vital part of successful management and employee retention. However, not all employees respond to these surveys. Gauging the job satisfaction of employees who don’t respond to a survey is at least as important as gauging the satisfaction of those who do respond. But how can survey nonresponse be accurately assessed? A recent study conducted by Fauth and his colleagues aimed to answer this question.

In this study, job satisfaction scores were combined by work group. The researchers then correlated that to the responses of four different groups. Group-level job satisfaction was significantly connected to response rates for the groups. In other words, more satisfied workers were more likely to respond to employee satisfaction surveys. Those in smaller groups were also more likely to respond.

In plain language, this means that when you interpret the results from your employee opinion surveys, you should consider the response rates. Lower response rates may indicate unsatisfied employees. Also, be wary of comparing the job satisfaction results for two different groups, if the groups have different response rates. Try to increase the response rates by stressing that positive changes can result from employees taking the survey and emphasizing that you value the results whether they are positive or negative.