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Anonymous Feedback: Succeed & Support Employees

Employee Engagement
February 10, 2022
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No matter what people say, they usually do care about what other people think of what they think. The same holds true when it comes to employees within organisations. That’s why anonymous feedback is such a popular method that’s used to try to gain honest insights into how employees are feeling. 

We’ll touch on how to get anonymous feedback from employees, along with the upsides and downsides of using this method.

What does Anonymous Feedback Mean?

Anonymous feedback refers to a survey that doesn’t collect any personal information about the respondent (be it a name or easily identifiable information). 

Anonymous feedback is typically used in workplace environments because otherwise, employees may not feel like they can honestly answer questions, especially about management or peers in the fear that they may get fired or could sever relationships. 

Is Anonymous Feedback Good or Bad?

It’s hard to say whether or not a method is good or bad because for some, it does work, and for others, there will be many challenges to overcome. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of anonymous feedback:

Pros: 

  • Feedback tends to be more honest 
  • Higher response rates (because most survey respondents drop off when they have to submit personal information) 
  • Removes the fear of being judged or implications for one’s career 

Cons: 

  • No ability to follow up 
  • No frame of reference for negative feedback 
  • May promote mistrust 
  • Negative feedback may be dismissed entirely

While many organisations do use anonymous feedback surveys, there still could be missing information. At the heart of an anonymous survey, employers are looking to learn about the thoughts and feelings of their team in order to boost morale, increase employee engagement, address issues early on, etc. 

But, typical employee surveys don’t get down to the “why” behind employees’ actions,, which is exactly where an employee wellbeing tool can be used to provide better results. 

With an employee wellbeing tool, you can offer your team a way to reflect on their mood on a daily basis or as needed. 

With this ability, it’s possible for employees to better understand their own mental wellbeing (which undoubtedly impacts how they feel about their job and how they show up to work each day). 

Employers also gain real-time insights based on employees’ responses. This enables management teams and HR to be able to better support those departments that need it most. 

What are Anonymous Surveys vs Confidential Surveys?

Although the terms “anonymous” and “confidential” are often used interchangeably, there’s a difference between anonymous surveys and confidential surveys. 

The responses in anonymous surveys are entirely anonymous to everyone involved, including the organisation that runs the survey. This means that no one knows which responses belong to whom. 

On the other hand, a confidential survey is typically run by a third party service, one that operates outside of the organisation. In turn, the third-party service knows who is providing each response, but everyone within the organisation does not. 

The upside of conducting a confidential survey over an anonymous survey is that the third-party service can perform follow-ups to learn more. 

Even with a confidential survey, those who run the survey still can’t follow up directly with an individual in order to try to resolve their frustrations or issues. They can do their part to ask more questions in order to report the data back to the organisation for problem-solving initiatives. 

How to Collect Anonymous Feedback?

Once you’ve decided to conduct an anonymous feedback survey, you’ll have to create and deploy it. 

Here are a few tips for collecting anonymous feedback:

1. Communicate Survey Goals

Decide the reason why you are conducting a survey in the first place, and be sure to let everyone within your organisation know the reasoning behind it. 

For example, you could be looking to improve customer service, reduce employee absenteeism, or develop a workplace culture that better supports professional development.

2. Publicize Its Anonymity

Running an anonymous feedback survey is different from a regular employee survey because it’s anonymous. 

This could dramatically change the feedback, so be sure to let everyone know that their identity will not be known and that their IP address will be blocked.

3. Security, First

If you are running your company survey on an anonymous feedback app or platform, then make sure the survey company remains compliant by following GDPR guidelines and uses encryption.

4. Be Mindful of Questions

To remain anonymous, be sure to remove questions that can trace back the identity of the respondent. For example, asking the respondent to list their job title is a surefire way to lose their trust that the survey is anonymous.

5. Take a Large Sample

As with any type of survey, you need to make sure that your sample size is large enough to represent the whole organisation. 

If you’re running a small business, that of course won’t be possible, but you can then probably survey everyone (so you will be representing the whole nonetheless). 

What are the Different Types of Feedback?

The different types of feedback depend on the frequency and methods for gaining feedback.

For example, you can conduct a yearly engagement survey for employees or a quarterly-run survey. 

Employees may be able to provide their feedback whenever they have one-on-one meetings with their management or at quarterly staff meetings. The goal of these surveys remains the same, regardless of frequency. It is to understand where your company can make improvements and gauge what it is doing well. 

If you’re looking for continuous feedback, then an employee wellbeing platform is the perfect solution as it allows for real-time mood monitoring. This way, employees are able to reflect on their mental wellbeing, and employers gain insight into which departments or teams may require extra support. 

Employee feedback relies on the need for employees to feel comfortable giving their honest opinions to people within their organisation. To ensure that employees’ feedback is actually valued, the organisation must initiate changes and take action based on the feedback.  

Image Source: Pixabay

Why is Feedback Important?

49% of employees have reported that no one asks for their feedback in their workplace. That astonishing figure gets more dismal. An even higher percentage of employees (62%) report that even if they do give their feedback, they don’t feel like it’s taken into consideration by their employers. 

This causes a domino effect of breaking points. When an employee doesn’t feel like their employers care about their opinions, they tend to feel unappreciated and disconnected. This can lead to drops in motivation, productivity and an increase in absenteeism and ultimately employee turnover. 

To receive feedback and take action, many companies are utilising employee wellbeing platforms as a more optimal approach than employee surveys. 

These tools focus on employees’ wellbeing by allowing team members to report their mood on their own time with prompted and guided questions, designed by experts. Along with expert-guided questions, the analysis that is provided back to the organisation offers insights that answer why team members feel the way they do. 

With this information, employers gain a bird’s eye view that allows them to see what departments or teams may need assistance. This way, they can actually get feedback from employees and use it in a timely manner to provide support.

Why is Anonymous Feedback Important?

You can see why feedback is important in the first place, but the truth is that anonymous feedback can take this to the next level.

It’s common for minorities and women to speak up less than men in the workplace. Anonymous feedback can offer a solution to this gap. 

Additionally, when an employee is new to the job, they may not feel like they can speak openly and honestly because they fear that there might be implications for doing so.  But, that fear subsides when they know that feedback will remain anonymous. 

With anonymity, everyone is on a level playing field as just their responses are taken into account, without any tie to their longevity at the company, their role, or any other factor. 

What Types of Feedback Should be Anonymous?

As an employer or members of the HR team, you can choose from the type of anonymous surveys you wish to use, such as employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys.  However, there are a few common categories in which organisations tend to opt for anonymous feedback. 

They include:

  • Mental health or personal concerns 
  • Harassment
  • Situations in which employees feel compromised
  • Inappropriate workplace behavior 

What is the Best Method for Anonymous Feedback?

There are few different modes by which organisations can gain anonymous feedback. 

  • Software solutions: Anonymous feedback software solutions make it possible to receive feedback in real-time and provide dashboards that make it easy to understand the results (as well as to see how many people took part in the survey). For example, an employee wellbeing solution fits under this category and make it easy to visualise data.

  • Surveys: Surveys are a traditional method to gain feedback and are often run anonymously. But, to ensure anonymity, there has to be a way for internal management to collect the surveys without compromising knowing one’s identity.

  • Suggestion box: Taking it back old school, you probably saw suggestion boxes in your classrooms growing up. Some organisations still like to have these physical boxes within their offices so people can drop in hand-written or printed notes with their ideas or qualms. It’s a slow and one-way street, though. 
  • Email: Companies can set up an anonymous email inbox. However, if someone from the organisation wishes to respond, then the responder will be identifiable.

 

And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention an employee wellbeing tool here again because it allows employees to document their mood in real-time. The employee wellbeing tool serves as a resource that employees can rely on to address their own mental wellbeing. These tools serve as a secure space for employees to document their emotions and even recognise their own patterns. 

In turn, employers can utilise these insights as cues to understand which teams or departments may need extra assistance or resources. 

The Bottom Line 

Anonymous feedback is commonly used within organisations to gauge how employees feel about their work, their peers, their management, and the overall workplace environment. By offering an anonymous option, you can increase survey responses and promote honesty. 

Along with anonymous feedback, employee wellbeing tools serve as a great complement to help employers understand employee mood and be able to provide support proactively (rather than reactively).

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