Should Employee Feedback Be Anonymous?

Anonymous feedback can be an efficient and effective way to measure employee engagement and give your staff a voice.

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Reasons your company should collect anonymous feedback — plus its drawbacks

“Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year,” according to Forbes.

As a business owner, you spend a lot of time crunching numbers, closing deals, and putting out fires. Running a successful venture is a juggling act, especially if you have a significant number of departments and employees within those departments. Given your hectic schedule, it’s likely that workplace culture and employee engagement haven’t been top of mind — but they should be. Here’s why.

Employee happiness isn’t just a nice idea; it can affect your bottom line. According to a recent Gallup study, companies whose employees scored in the top 20% in engagement experience a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% less turnover. Creating a positive workplace where engagement is high is a smart financial decision as engaged employees are significantly more productive, reliable, and will stay with the organization longer.

How exactly do you figure out if your employees are happy? You could go cubicle to cubicle and ask them, then manually record the response, but we don’t recommend it as it’s intimidating and time consuming.

So what’s the alternative? Gather employee feedback via online surveys. Online surveys allow businesses to easily and quickly capture employee feedback that enables managers to make informed changes that boost morale.

Online surveys allow businesses to easily and quickly capture employee feedback that enables managers to make informed changes that boost morale.

The Zenefits Employee Engagement Survey is a great place to start. By surveying employees, you give them a chance to feel heard, build trust, and make positive changes over time. According to Forbes, “Employees who feel that their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.”

The case for anonymous feedback

So, now we know how vital employee feedback truly is and that there are many great tools like engagement surveys to collect it, but should it be anonymous?

There are numerous benefits to collecting employee feedback anonymously, which should not be glossed over. Anonymously collecting employee feedback allows for employees who may be introverted to speak their minds without fear of retaliation. Additionally, anonymous surveys have higher participation rates and are more likely to elicit thoughtful and honest responses from employees across the board.

The case against anonymous feedback

Anonymous employee feedback may make it difficult to enact change as company leaders will not know which person in which role is making specific suggestions.
While anonymous employee feedback may increase open and honest participation, it can also have several noteworthy drawbacks to consider. By surveying employees anonymously, you may unknowingly promote the notion that your company isn’t a safe place to speak your mind and that managers can’t be trusted to know who is giving the feedback.

Moreover, anonymous employee feedback may make it difficult to enact change as company leaders will not know which person in which role is making specific suggestions, leading to the input falling by the wayside.

Normalizing employee feedback

While employee feedback is a powerful and recommended method of measuring employee engagement, businesses may struggle with how to best deliver these surveys. Anonymous surveys can increase participation and honesty; however, anonymity can also make employees feel that it isn’t safe to speak up in person and leave employers unsure of how to enact real change within specific departments.

So what is the best way to make employee feedback useful — anonymously or otherwise? Normalize it!

Employee feedback should be a regular and constant part of your workplace, instead of an annual “just before the holidays” send out.

Create a company culture that welcomes employee feedback by:

  • Having frequent 1:1 meetings between managers and employees
    • One-on-one sessions allow managers to ask employees for feedback directly and then work together to formulate a plan for improvements
  • Creating an environment of trust and respect
    • Encourage managers to be honest and genuine with their direct reports about their struggles or changes they want to implement. Honesty given will encourage openness in return
  • Using feedback to drive real change
    • There is no worse feeling to an employee than to feel like the feedback they give is being ignored. Employees will quickly stop participating in surveys if they feel like there is no follow through. Enact a plan to present feedback to your teams and discuss organizational changes related to that feedback

Yes to anonymous

Once employee feedback is normalized within your organization, anonymous feedback becomes an efficient and highly effective way to analyze employee engagement.

With Zenefits Employee Engagement Surveys, you can give your employees a voice with customized templates that are simple to use and insanely effective. Our all-in-one platform empowers teams within your business to quickly drive actions from insights to boost employee morale.

In the dashboard, you can clearly see where your organization needs help and how to get there with the resources you have. Get granular by filtering based on demographics to retain anonymity without losing the details you need to drive change.

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