Are Response Rates to Organizational Climate Surveys Influenced by Informing Respondents about the Sampling Strategy?

Taylor H Lewis, Lorraine Latimore


First administered in 2002, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is an annual, Web-based organizational climate survey of U.S. federal government employees. In recent years, numerous external stakeholders have urged the FEVS administration team at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to
consider changing its sampling policy to one of a perennial census of the FEVSeligible workforce. Among the most frequently cited reasons is a belief that offering all employees the opportunity to participate could boost response rates. A corollary of this belief is that an agency currently sampling its FEVS-eligible
workforce is somehow achieving a lower response rate than it otherwise could be. In this paper, we report results from an email contact wording experiment systematically manipulating whether employees were made aware of the underlying sampling strategy. We find emphasizing a census has no effect, but emphasizing the employee was part of a random sample produces a slight increase in response rates.


nonresponse; email wording experiment; response rate; employee surveys

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