Voice of the Employee

The importance of anonymous employee feedback surveys for employee engagement


Humans crave it, yet it is often out of their reach.

You see, unless you’re living in the Stone Age, it’s virtually impossible to be completely anonymous on the internet. There’s always a trace of your true identity hanging somewhere around.

Despite knowing this, people still strive to attain anonymity (or the illusion of it). Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), incognito browsers, burner accounts on social media, etc. are all attempts at reaching a form of anonymity.

And the professional work environment is not spared.

People also crave anonymity there. Your employees need their anonymity protected before they can truly express themselves and voice their concerns.

Liz Ratto, Head of People at Cedar, a healthcare technology company, agreed on the importance of workplace anonymity when she said:

“A promise of anonymity — at least in some capacity — is a step in the right direction of giving everyone a voice.”

In other words, you can’t say you’ve given your employees a voice if their words can be traced back to them. Anonymity is a requirement of any platform you’re using to give your employees a voice. A 2021 State of Workplace Wrongdoing by AllVoices revealed that 70% of the surveyed employees were more likely to report wrongdoing if the method was anonymous.

It’s clear-cut.

Anonymity increases the rate and quality of feedback received from employees, thereby increasing employee engagement. Although anonymous feedback benefits far outweigh its opposite, managers still kick against it.

Why is that so?

The argument for using non-anonymous employee feedback surveys

The major benefit non-anonymous surveys offer over anonymous ones is that they allow the manager to follow up with respondents.

For example, say an employee answers the survey questions in a worrying manner that suggests the employee needs help. The manager can identify such a person and offer the necessary help in a non-anonymous survey. On the flip side, the anonymity of an anonymous feedback survey, while a blessing, can also be a curse. Since there is no identifying information, there is no way the manager can follow up with people that need it.

Frankly, this is a valid objection.

And it makes non-anonymous surveys worth considering.

However, in recent times, several tools have found a solution to this problem. Here’s how they do it: They help you create and send anonymous surveys to your employees. Then, when you need to speak with respondents and resolve a problem, you can chat with the employee directly while still preserving your anonymity and theirs.

An example of a tool that offers this exact solution is Vantage pulse. It has a conversation feature that helps managers respond to employee feedback surveys without knowing who the respondent is.

Pretty neat right?

With this objection taken care of, there is no reason why you should still be sending out non-anonymous surveys. This development cements the use of anonymous over its non-anonymous counterpart.

Now, you’ve finally decided to send out anonymous surveys to your employees in order to receive feedback.


What are the tips you should keep in mind to get the most out of your anonymous feedback surveys?

Anonymous surveys best practices

  1. Reinforce the anonymity of the survey to employees. Let them understand that their anonymity is protected, and their responses are not going to be used against them.
  2. Communicate the purpose of the survey to employees. Why are you sending out this survey? Is it a regular pulse survey or for a specific purpose? Let them know the purpose.
  3. Make use of a third-party employee feedback tool. Instead of creating the survey yourself, use tools that offer the service. It boosts trust and response.
  4. In case you decide to create the surveys yourself, make sure you don’t include any custom variables or ask for identifying information like age, role, age, gender, etc. Most third-party tools don’t make this kind of mistake, but you could. So be extra careful.
  5. Don’t ask open-ended questions as employees could go off-topic and write a heap of irrelevant information.
  6. Act on the feedback you receive. Don’t ask for feedback and do nothing about it. Ensure you use the employee feedback received and make changes. That is how you breed happy and engaged employees.

Ask for feedback regularly

A common question managers have is…

“How often should I send out anonymous employee feedback surveys to my team?”

The answer?

It depends. You see, there are different types of surveys, but I’ll compare two types: Pulse surveys and annual surveys. Both types are important and have their place in every company.

Pulse surveys are short and specific surveys sent out weekly or bi-weekly. They are meant to capture the ever-changing pulse of employees in real-time, and what they feel on a day-to-day basis.

Annual surveys, on the other hand, are comprehensive surveys that are sent yearly (mostly at the end of the year). They are used to get a deep insight into how employees feel in general.

To manage a company successfully, you need to send out both pulse and annual surveys. Several third-party tools help automate this process, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually.

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