Why Aren't Your Employees Filling Out Your Employee Surveys?

employee surveys

It's not surprising to find criticisms of employee surveys online. Twittering skeptics recently posted comments about employee surveys that justifiably deserve comment.

Twitter User: "So my "anonymous" employee survey needs my employee number? Yea, right "anonymous" for sure." 

That Twitterer has a point.

Engagement Surveys tweet employee

To be clear: anonymous comes from the Greek word, anonymia, meaning without a name, or nameless.

Confidential on the other hand refers to something that’s meant to be kept secret or private.

For example, your health records and conversations with your lawyer are handled with confidentiality through a series of rules that place restrictions on the sharing of such information.

In the data world, surveys can be anonymous or confidential. But not both.

If survey responses are intended to be anonymous, participants can’t be asked for any information that might reveal their identity. There are absolutely no identifying values. None. Not a one.

However, some kind of coding is required — like an employee number — when an organization wants to be able to look at employee survey results:

  • By division or department or regional location
  • Or is interested in breaking down different perceptions between union and non-union employees, or workers in blue collar jobs verses those in administration or sales.

Protecting the identity of employee survey respondents (aka confidentiality) is achieved best by using a third-party survey specialist like TalentMap to conduct, compile, analyze and store data.

TalentMap does not report employee engagement survey responses from departments made up of five people or less — under any circumstances — period.

  • Open-ended employee comments are tabulated under thematic umbrellas.
  • Data feedback from smaller groups is combined with similar functions.

Without a guarantee of confidentiality, employees have every right to be wary

Protecting respondent identities safeguards employees and employers from the possibility of reprisal and the ill-will that comes with.

If your organization’s survey participation rates are low, it’s likely your employees don’t know or understand how their identities are kept secret.

employee survey confidentiality

Twitter User: "Lol my boss just got a huge VP promotion even tho our entire dept got record low engagement scores in our employee survey.”

This recent Twitter dismally reflects a disengaged organization on several fronts.

What’s the point of an employee survey if feedback isn’t heeded? The whole exercise becomes counter-productive, creating an environment of disheartened, disconnected employees.

tweet about engagement survey

Chances are future survey response rates will be on a downward trajectory at this place, or at the very least, in this department.

Unless some fundamental things change, employee motivation and morale will follow suit.

Where is buy-in from the executive team, the President or CEO?

When an organization’s culture genuinely embraces employee engagement, management is trained and sensitized to its value.

Employee engagement scores are aligned with management performance reviews and career growth to reinforce the role leaders play in an engaging workplace.

What happens post-survey?

If the organization referenced in the Tweet simply goes through the motions, collecting feedback without acting on findings, it’s setting itself up for serious recruitment and retention, absenteeism and overall performance heartache.

Organizations with high employee survey participation year over year are on top of post-survey action planning, with supportive leadership paving the way.

author patricia bell newson

About Patricia Bell Newson

A graduate of Canada’s leading Journalism Degree program, Patricia Bell Newson is an accomplished writer and communications specialist. As a key member of the TalentMap team, Pat leads the company’s thought leadership with full force producing weekly content on employee engagement and best practices in employee surveys. Pat’s experience in advising leaders on strategic approaches to sensitive issues, priorities, and policies together with her ability to research and easily grasp various concepts regarding the workplace has been a great asset in creating valuable insights for HR leaders.

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