Don’t get hung up on response rates. Create a results focus. Make it easy for managers. Make it business-relevant. All good ideas. Even the one commentor so far makes a great point – you absolutely must provide follow up!
My own two cents’ worth would be about the very existence of a survey in the first place. Mailing out sheets of paper or emailing a link to an online survey to already very busy people is only going to be a great idea if the information coming back is going to be both useful and used. HR folk and managers reading articles or approached by consultants quoting other bits of research often provoke some employers into conducting a survey of their own. I applaud research and information gathering. I’m less enamoured with the shotgun-spraying of surveys.
Even if you find out that x% of those of your employees who responded think they’re engaged or not engaged compared to y% which is the national or industry average, what do you do with that? AND whether or not employees think they are engaged isn’t the actual indicator of engagement. That is their behaviour. A self-completed survey of what people think is interesting and may reveal actions that need to be taken BUT it won’t and can’t reveal engagement. That needs to be observed.
Engagement is not morale or climate or happiness. It is the observation of discretionary effort. Make the effort and get out and observe. That’s useful, accurate, objective and gets to your brain a lot quicker than the aggregated results of a survey.