Low employee survey participation rate
Published February 9, 2023

Are Your Employees Afraid to Tell You How They REALLY Feel? You Might Be Surprised

Three reasons why your employee survey is falling flat

Franchise leaders understand that employee engagement is more crucial than ever to the success and growth of their business. More and more franchisors are buying into the value of surveying their employees as a foundational part of their culture, hiring and retention strategies. 

If you’re one of them, that’s great news. But, if you’re conducting the survey on your own and finding that many of your employees aren’t participating, it may be a sign that something else is going on. On average, FBR’s employee engagement surveys of corporate franchise employees get a participation rate of 80 percent, with participation rates of unit-level employees slightly less at approximately 60%. If your employee survey participation rates are lower, it’s probably one of three reasons.

The 3 Biggest Reasons Why Employees Hold Back 

1. Perceived insignificance
Have you communicated WHY you’re asking for feedback? And WHAT you plan to do with it? If you haven’t shared results from past surveys, or talked about what you learned and changes you’ve made or plan to make based on the data, they may feel their feedback doesn’t impact the business and it’s not worth their time to participate in surveys.

2. Lack of trust in anonymity
Employees won’t be honest, and may not participate in a survey at all, if they don’t believe their feedback is anonymous. Using an unbiased third party to administer the survey can help reassure them that their feedback is completely confidential.

CASE STUDY: The Lash Lounge shares the model they created to measure and improve culture in the corporate office and franchise locations.
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3. Fear of retaliation
How you respond to the feedback you gather can be more important than the feedback itself. Being transparent about where you see opportunities to be better managers and leaders, and thanking your team for their constructive feedback is a great starting point to help your team understand how the data is being used to improve the entire organization, not punish anyone. 

If employees don’t trust their managers or the executive team, they won’t answer surveys and they won’t stick around long. Business leaders need to focus on the culture they are building within their organizations, and that starts with trust. Show your team that their feedback is an important KPI you use to measure success. Tying their feedback into how you measure and compensate managers, how you identify strategic goals, and how you support your staff, will increase employee survey participation rates, positively impact employee engagement, and ultimately, build trust in the organization.

CASE STUDY: Learn how three franchise brands are using employee engagement results to create a more positive franchise culture and impact employee engagement and retention.
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Want to get started on improving things? Download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for Franchises for ideas on how to remove the barriers holding employees back. You can also reach out for a copy of our employee survey questions and to learn more about how we can get you more feedback, comparison data, and tips on how to use the data to impact the culture of your organization. 

Ready to start surveying your employees? Click here to get started or request a free 10-minute demo.


Related Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for Franchises

Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for FranchisesEmployee engagement is critical to the success (or survival) of franchise organizations, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to foster engagement.

Download your free eBook to learn how to:

  • Recognize barriers holding employees back from fully engaging
  • Create a supportive and engaging workplace culture
  • Make engagement a key part of your hiring and retention strategy
  • Measure and benchmark your team’s engagement against other franchise employers


About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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