Before digging too far into your results, it's important to be sure you have an adequate number of responses. Whether you are looking at results from "all respondents" or just a demographic slice, you need to be sure enough employees responded to make the survey results statistically meaningful. How many respondents do you need? There is no hard and fast rule, but more is better. Our article on random sampling talks about sample size and statistical accuracy. In practical terms, realize that if you have a smaller number of respondents, you need much stronger results in order to draw conclusions from the numbers. For example, if you have just 10 respondents and they all said "strongly disagree" then you can probably trust that, but if just 7 out of 10 said "strongly disagree" then you might want to collect more data to be sure there is a trend there. On the other hand, if you have 1000 respondents and 700 of them said "strongly disagree" you can be pretty sure that this result is meaningful.
This concept is especially important to remember as you look at results for different employee demographic groups. Pay attention to cases where your n is low and realize that the conclusions you draw from the results for these smaller groups of employees are less certain than for larger groups.
Who's your n?
If you included demographic questions in your survey, then you may have a pretty good idea of who your respondents are, but keep in mind ways in which the respondents might not represent all of the people in your "population". For example, if you are surveying employees and your survey is conducted online, you are not likely to get much feedback from employees who don't use a computer. Every situation is unique and you should spend a bit of time thinking about the kinds of people who might be under represented in your survey results.
What percentage of employees completed the survey?
In addition to the actual number of responses, it is also important to look at the response rate. Employee satisfaction surveys typically have response rates in the 70% - 80% range (or higher). If your response rate was less than 65% - 70%, this could be an indication of problems with the survey process itself (e.g. poor communication), or it could indicate a problem with employee attitudes and levels of engagement.
Company culture can have an impact on employee survey response rates. For example, if there is a low level of trust among employees, they may not feel comfortable sharing their opinions in a survey.
If employee surveys were conducted in the past, but results were not shared and/or no action was taken to correct problems, employees may feel that completing the survey is a waste of their time.