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Jun
13
,
2022

How non-confidential employee surveys backfire

How non-confidential employee surveys backfire

These days, managers are trying every trick in the book to retain employees. Including the use of non-confidential surveys that ask employees to reveal what their organization and department could be doing better for them. There are currently survey companies in our field that provide non-anonymous surveys.

At first blush, this seems like a great idea. It allows a manager to really individualize their approach to employee satisfaction and engagement. But there are many ways for non-confidential surveys to backfire. Here are a few of the flaws with identifying the names of survey respondents.

DISCOURAGES HONESTY
What employee who wants to stay employed is going to risk their job by critiquing his or her supervisor? Do most supervisors truly want to hear they are unethical, disengaged or uncaring? And is this type of feedback really going to produce a productive result? Most likely the supervisor on the receiving end of this feedback might pay lip service to the complaint, and then secretly harbor resentment toward the messenger of unwanted news.

THE DATA ARE NOT PROJECTABLE
Individual feedback should be derived in a different way than a survey. Surveys are excellent for giving a manager the big picture overview of how satisfied and engaged those in their department are. Trends emerge, and the supervisor is able to analyze those and adjust. And then he or she has a baseline for discussion about whatever needs to be fixed. One person’s voice can be disproportionately loud in doing individualized and non-confidential surveys. It’s much more reliable to see what your whole department is thinking and respond accordingly because one person’s survey cannot be projectable to others in the department.

FEELS LIKE BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
The value of doing non-anonymous surveys is that a supervisor knows who said what… but those surveys also give employees the impression that they are being scrutinized. A supervisor gets the feedback and says to the employee, “so you don’t like the way I run meetings… would you care to run the next one for us?” Revealing individual beefs often breeds resentment. Employees do not want their identities revealed in surveys. They do not want their supervisors sitting them down, clutching survey responses in hand, and challenging their opinions. That feels disingenuous and can be experienced as retribution.

Holleran conducts anonymous surveys to measure employee engagement and satisfaction. To learn more, contact Katelyn McCauley at kmccauley@holleranconsult.com or call (717) 478-5211.

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