What if Your Next HR Survey isn't Anonymous?


what if your next HR survey is not Anonymous


Surveying employee satisfaction and opinion is important for the health of any organization. If your employees aren’t engaged, then your business can’t thrive. If you survey your employees at regular intervals, then you can gain valuable insights about how to improve your entire organization. According to the National Business Research Institute, “All core business measures—profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, quality, retention, and sales—are significantly higher at companies with a concentration of engaged employees. Employee Engagement has been shown to increase net profit margins up to 6% and lead to five times higher shareholder returns over five years.”

What's the best way to do it?

It has been assumed for many years that HR surveys should be anonymous because employees can share honestly without hurting their jobs. There is no question that anonymous employee surveys are sometimes the best way to get honest feedback. Interestingly, studies also show that non-anonymity doesn’t hurt results as we previously thought. There are numerous reasons that having a non-anonymous employee survey can help bring your results to the next level. Here’s some food for thought.

Top 5 benefits of a non-anonymous survey

1. Get face to face answers about the issues concerning your company the most.

2. Learn the needs of your individual employees. When you can give people the exact tools they need to do their jobs, then you get the best results.

3. Learn about areas the organization could improve that might never have occurred to you.

4. An open dialogue can result in many creative solutions that won’t come up if the decision phase falls only on HR and management once an anonymous survey is over.

5. Respondents take full responsibility for their answers, and can provide more detailed feedback.

Can people really be honest at your company?

In today’s work environment, many companies focus increasingly on improving their culture. A key element to a healthy culture is that everyone in a company or team should be comfortable with giving and receiving honest feedback. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon that employees should ‘know their place’ and not speak up to their superiors. People often feared being fired or ostracised for confronting the wrong person. Stepping on eggshells was also acceptable if it would save someone from hurt feelings etc. So, is there trust at your workplace? According to an international study of almost 10,000 international adults, “Less than half of global respondents have a “great deal of trust” in their current employers (46%), boss or team/colleagues (both 49%).” Clearly, trust is something that many of us have to work on.

Today things are changing. The good news is that half of those 10,000 adults DO trust their employees and co-workers. In healthy company cultures, managers are increasingly accountable for their actions. Employees should be able to say when something isn’t going well, and managers should be able to take the feedback well and react accordingly. You can think of this like any healthy relationship. Some degree of constructive confrontation is a key to progress. If employees are not free to speak to their superiors and to their colleagues about important issues, then you end up with an organization that is full of unspoken frustrations and silent inefficiencies. This will never be good for your bottom line.

Is there trust at your organization?

Is your Company Ready for Transparency?

If your organization hasn’t been working hard to create a culture where employees can speak freely to each other and their superiors, then you might not be ready for a survey where employees are not anonymous. That’s ok, because there is always room for improvement.

Non-anonymous surveys can open up a world of honest and constructive conversations that are not possible when identities stay hidden. As appealing as that sounds, you never want to alienate your employees and lose their trust in the process. If you decide for a non-anonymous HR survey, then management has to be ready to respond constructively and openly. 

Conduct a non-anonymous survey if you’re company is ready. Are you unsure where you stand? Take this quiz to determine the health of your company culture. The quiz alone can't be the deciding factor as to whether you're ready or not, but can give you an idea of where you stand and what you need to considder. 

Make sure everyone understands the anonymity of a survey

If you don’t have a positive enough company culture (or you just aren’t there yet), employees can even feel weary about anonymous surveys. The fact is that, especially in smaller organizations, people can often be identified by the nature of their answers alone even when they do not provide their names.

Make sure that whatever option you choose your respondents know that the survey is a safe place. If the survey is anonymous, assure your respondents that their identity is hidden. If you do use a non-anonymous survey it is extremely important that your respondents are notified in advance. Always be completely honest about the anonymity of your survey.

Bottom line, keep the trust

Be honest and open with your employees. If you take our quiz and are confident that you have the kind of company culture where employees can enjoy an honest and open conversation about change, and where management will listen and respond, then you might try conducting a non-anonymous HR survey and see how it goes.

But assess yourself honestly. If your organization isn’t ready for an anonymous survey don’t push it. You can still gather great information from an anonymous survey. If you aren’t ready, then we encourage you to continue improving your company culture until you get there. Read our blog post, 10 Steps to a Healthy Company Culture to learn more. Don’t be afraid of the process. Download our survey guide below for more insights on building and conducting professional surveys that bring the right results for real change.

 How to Get the Most Out of Surveys