We think honest feedback in any respect is just great!
Not only because we deal with it on a daily basis, but because we are convinced that properly asked questions and honest answers bring about positive change. Especially in companies, employee surveys are an excellent tool to determine employee satisfaction or to make internal processes more efficient. At a time when many companies are striving for a positive culture of error and feedback, calls for non-anonymous employee surveys are also growing louder. Are anonymous employee surveys therefore no longer in keeping with the times?
Digitalization is changing traditional production processes. Innovation cycles are becoming shorter and shorter, and working within an organization is adapting to this rapid pace by adopting an agile approach. Direct, non-anonymous feedback from employees and customers on new services, products, and services helps companies to react more efficiently and, above all, faster than the competition to a wide variety of market requirements. So far so good! But what happens when the focus of the survey is not on products, services, and support, but on internal structures. For example, the daily working methods in a team, a department, or with a superior. When it’s not about form and function, but suddenly about colleagues or the team leader?
The world belongs to the brave
Feedback in an internal corporate context therefore always requires courage. On the one hand, for the employee who answers and, on the other, for the boss or department head who asks the questions. Because feedback usually has improvement as its goal. Nothing is more unpleasant than for a company to admit that the previous change project, the cost-intensive new product, or the redesigned onboarding process did not lead to the desired results for employees or customers. For the employee, on the other hand, surveys are often associated with anxiety as well. “How will I come across to my boss if I don’t participate in the survey? Will I be shunned if I speak my mind”? Feedback in an organizational context also means the clash of different roles and hierarchical levels.
Three decisive reasons why anonymous employee surveys are far from passive, even with an open feedback culture in companies:
1. Employee concerns and fears
All feedback is criticism. And let’s be honest, despite a lived feedback culture in the company, not every employee is brave enough, even in agile times, to send it to their supervisor with their clear name. It doesn’t matter if the employee is only 22 or 61, grew up with social media or other review platforms. Employee surveys take place in a professional context and in a specific role. It is therefore important for the employee to be able to decide for themselves whether they would like to answer the survey with their signature or whether they would prefer to do so anonymously. Companies should support their employees in making decisions without fear and respond to employees’ questions and concerns.
2. Voluntariness before productivity
Trust means that employees can give feedback more freely and openly within their company without fear of sanctions. Despite all this, the most important aspect of a survey remains its voluntary nature. As an employee, I must be given the opportunity by the company to agree or refuse to be surveyed, whether anonymously or by name. After all, what is the use of biased answers that can lead to incorrect decisions following the survey?
3. Purpose of the survey
Anonymous or non-anonymous: It always depends on the type of survey. Often, it does not even play a decisive role that participants are identifiable by their clear names. Especially in employee surveys, where sensitive backgrounds may be at stake, “neutrality and objectivity” are crucial. Interpersonal “sensitivities” as a reaction to critical feedback can influence this “objectivity” and significantly disturb the working atmosphere.