National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) conducts surveys year-round and all across the country. But when we mention fatigue, we’re not talking about the researchers. Survey fatigue happens when respondents become overwhelmed with questions or the number of surveys they are asked to take. This can result in lower response rates or incomplete information. Director of Research Erin Caldwell describes the types of survey fatigue and tells how you can avoid them.
Survey response fatigue occurs when people are asked the same question in different ways throughout the same survey. This redundancy can discourage people from answering further questions.
Respondents can burn out when a survey is too long. The quality of response may decline and people may not answer with as much intention as they did at the beginning of the survey. Fatigued respondents may skip open-ended questions or only get through part of the survey.
Don’t Over-Survey Your Audience
We recommend surveying your citizens once a year, as asking the same people to take surveys too often may cause fatigue. For those who opt to survey multiple times a year, NRC ensures that no household receives more than one survey within a short time period.
Communicate the Value of the Survey
NRC community surveys are usually signed by a notable community representative, such as the Mayor or County Commissioner, to emphasize the importance of the survey. Make it clear that citizens are helping to make their community better by providing input through the survey.
Make Your Questions Relevant
Keep questions simple, clear and easy-to-answer. Make sure the questions are relevant to those who are taking the survey and to those who will be using the results. Asking the right questions ensures that decision-makers in your community will receive usable data to make community changes.
Vet the Survey
Take the survey yourself. Have your colleagues also take the survey. If you find that you or your peers are experiencing challenges with the survey, make modifications before sending it out to residents. Make sure the questions are understandable, and that residents will perceive the value of taking it.