Nonresponse in Employee Attitude Surveys: A Group-Level Analysis

Abstract

Purpose

Given the common practice of using employee attitude surveys as a group-level intervention, this study used a group-level approach to examine the relationship between group satisfaction and group nonresponse.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Samples from four large organizations enabled job satisfaction scores to be aggregated to the work group level and correlated with group-level response rates. Additional regression analysis was conducted to control for a number of confounding variables at the group level.

Findings

Aggregate job satisfaction showed significant associations with group-level response rates across each of the samples examined. Work groups with higher aggregate job satisfaction had significantly higher response rates. Regression analyses showed that, in addition to job satisfaction, work group size, heterogeneity in tenure, and heterogeneity in gender composition all had significant effects on response rates.

Implications

Social influence processes may operate at the group level to increase homogeneity of job-relevant attitudes and similarity in survey response behavior. Future research should be designed to investigate the effects of group-level variables on nonresponse.

Originality/Value

The current study adds to the literature by demonstrating that work group variables may play an important role in explaining nonresponse in employee attitude surveys. Because the processes underlying survey response are likely to be different at different levels of analysis, the investigation of nonresponse as a group-level phenomenon creates new opportunities for research and practice.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We conducted hierarchical MGCFA for heterogeneous groups to evaluate the psychometric equivalence of the measure across companies, allowing for different items in the different companies (Hattrup et al. 2007). In a first step, each item was allowed to load on its respective factor in each group. In a second step, we constrained the loadings of the shared items to equality across companies. The overall model across all four samples showed adequate fit with the data (CFI = 0.912, IFI = 0.912, RMSEA = 0.036), and the restriction on item loadings did not result in a significant decrease in model fit (ΔCFI = 0.003) in accordance with Cheung and Rensvold (2002). Thus, results of the MGCFA analyses support the overall equivalence of scales across companies.

  2. 2.

    We chose to compute heterogeneity indices as indicators for group composition instead of group mean levels, given the potential theoretical importance of group heterogeneity. We also, however, repeated the analysis with the group mean descriptors (mean levels for age and tenure and proportions for gender and employment status) instead of the heterogeneity indexes. That is, we conducted a two-step hierarchical linear regression analysis for sample 4, using aggregate job satisfaction, group function and the group means as independent variables. In a first step we entered the means for gender, age, tenure, employment status, and group size. Again, all variables were centered at their grand means. Group size and tenure were found to be significantly related to group response rates. Entering aggregate job satisfaction in a second step resulted in a significant increase in R 2R 2 = 0.02, ΔF = 4.41, p = 0.04). Once aggregate job satisfaction was entered in the regression, however, the only significant covariate was group size.

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Fauth, T., Hattrup, K., Mueller, K. et al. Nonresponse in Employee Attitude Surveys: A Group-Level Analysis. J Bus Psychol 28, 1–16 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-012-9260-y

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Keywords

  • Survey nonresponse
  • Organizational survey
  • Group level
  • Job satisfaction
  • Organizational attitudes
  • Survey feedback