Q: What do you think about having participation prizes (drawing among the survey respondents) to draw more participation to the survey?
A: For external surveys, some type of reward or a chance to win a big prize (free airline tickets for an airline survey) is almost required to get participation. They don’t mind identifying themselves individually while taking the survey in order to be able to receive the reward at the end. External audiences have absolutely nothing to lose by telling you bad things you might not want to hear.
For internal audiences, individual prizes may actually hurt participation or skew their responses to be more positive because they will know that you have to know who each respondent is (and therefore everything they answered) in order to give them their participation reward. The feeling of anonymity is gone. If you feel you must provide rewards for participation, do it at a group level. For each office/department/region where you get at least X% response rate, ALL members of that group benefit from the reward–such as a donation being made to that group’s favorite charity or getting an extra day off on the next 3-day weekend or pizza for everyone at the next team meeting. Or the reward can be psychic, not tangible. I’ve had clients where the reward for high participation in a factory setting was high-level leaders serving lunch in the cafeteria for a day, or washing the trucks employees use.