Employee Feedback

Collecting Anonymous Employee Feedback In The Workplace



By Katie Liston


Organizations need employees to share their thoughts, opinions, and criticisms, but is anonymous feedback the best way to get this data?

Employee feedback about the company leads to greater productivity, higher job satisfaction, and less turnover. That is when workers actually share it.

But while some employees are forthcoming with their thoughts, many others withhold their feedback — often because they’re not comfortable giving it directly to their supervisor.

One way that organizations can overcome this hurdle is by encouraging employees to submit anonymous feedback. However, while there are numerous benefits to this solution, there are drawbacks as well. Let’s explore the pros and cons, so you can determine how to use it effectively in your organization.

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What Is Anonymous Feedback?

Anonymous feedback lets employees voice their opinions without attaching their names to it. This can help them speak their minds and answer your question truthfully.

Anonymous feedback is often used in conjunction with regular employee feedback. Giving your employees the chance to respond anonymously imbues the question(s) you’re asking with particular importance. So not only will they respond more honestly, they’ll give more thought to the question as well.

Benefits Of Anonymous Employee Feedback

Companies that welcome anonymous feedback from workers typically have a system in place that allows employees to submit responses electronically. It’s essentially a virtual “suggestion box,” and there are several advantages to letting employees voice their opinions securely.

Help employees feel safe

Many organizations want to foster a culture of open feedback, but employees can understandably be hesitant to share this information directly, fearing there may be a backlash. This is especially the case with employee engagement surveys or exit surveys, which deal with more sensitive subject matter.

In fact, 25% of employees withhold feedback because they worry about repercussions. Having the option to leave feedback anonymously, like ContactMonkey does, helps employees feel safe.

Stay informed about the latest employee engagement statistics with our complete guide.

Screenshot of employee net promoter score (eNPS) and anonymous employee comment box inserted into an email using ContactMonkey's email template builder.

“While ratings in a consumer setting may or may not be anonymous, at work, anonymity is critical,” said Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin By Deloitte. “In the consumer world, if you poorly review a restaurant or ‘down rate’ a driver, there are likely no major consequences to you — in fact it can be a good thing because the company can get back to you to address your problem. At work, the ramifications are different. If you ‘down rate’ your boss or say something critical about them (even in a constructive way), you may be labeled a ‘trouble maker,’ which now reflects poorly on you.”

However, providing a secure forum to voice concerns and ideas establishes psychological safety and motivates workers to share criticism without attaching their names to it.

Gather feedback in many ways with ContactMonkey.

Embed pulse surveys, emoji reactions, eNPS, and more.

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Solicit more honest and valuable feedback

How often has an employee come to you to share criticism or an unpopular opinion simply because you encouraged them to do so? How likely is it that you would enter your supervisor’s office to do that? Even if a manager outright asked for your opinion on a matter you strongly disagreed with, odds are you’d sugarcoat your response.

“When a company comes up to an employee and asks them how they feel about the company, there’s going to be limitations on what this person tells you,” said Kyum Kim, co-founder and head of U.S. operations at networking platform Blind.

The most useful feedback is honest feedback, though, and workers are more likely to tell the truth and deliver even critical news when they know it won’t be attributed to them.

If you need to collect feedback from only a portion of your workforce via email, you can use custom email lists to target your employee surveys to relevant audiences and reduce unnecessary emails to your employees.

Using ContactMonkey’s List Management feature, you can easily create your own email lists—without IT. Your custom email lists can integrate with your Human Resource Information System (HRIS) like Workday and ADP, as well as Azure Active Directory, so they’ll update automatically as employee join and leave your organization.

Empower employees

Allowing workers to submit anonymous feedback shows that the company values employees’ opinions, which increases job satisfaction and employee engagement.

This benefits the company as well since employee engagement is closely tied to productivity, growth, and even the bottom line. In fact, highly engaged teams have 21% greater profitability, while disengaged employees cost companies up to $550 billion annually.

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Boost employee engagement with our list of virtual team building ideas.

Create inclusivity and levels the playing field

Even in the most open and communicative workplace, some people will still hesitate to speak up — especially when power dynamics and differences in personality, race, gender, and more come into play. But anonymous feedback removes these barriers because everyone can raise questions, share ideas, and submit criticism in the same way.

“There are power dynamics and intrinsic biases in all of us that cause us to react to people in certain ways,” said Liz Ratto, head of people at a healthcare tech company Cedar. “Failing to acknowledge those realities or trying to only overcome them via policy — such as requiring all feedback to be attributed — lets us off the hook of actually confronting them and doing the work to keep them in check.”

Generate new ideas

Anonymity can give people the confidence to express unpopular opinions or share out-of-the-box ideas that may not arise in a public forum.

Providing employees the space and safety to communicate these thoughts fosters creativity in the workplace, which CEOs say is the most important skill for future success.

Preserve relationships

Anonymous feedback helps protect feelings since an employee won’t know that a bit of criticism came from a friend, for example. It also forces the recipient to react to the feedback instead of to the person who provided it, which can aid in making changes.

Drawbacks Of Anonymous Feedback

Clearly, anonymity has its perks for soliciting employee feedback, but there are disadvantages to consider, as well. Luckily, though, there are workarounds for many of them.

Implies it’s risky to speak up

The very reason that companies implement anonymous feedback is so that employees feel comfortable sharing their views. However, the practice might reinforce fears that it’s actually not safe to share their thoughts, which is why an anonymous feedback system is in place.

“I’m always disappointed to hear employees feel their job could be on the line for completing a survey,” said Emma Bindbeutel, head of people ops at Choozle. “Why should a company ask for feedback if they don’t want honest feedback?”

One way to overcome this is to simply make regular employee feedback part of the culture so that workers are accustomed to sharing their thoughts.

Screenshot of employee happiness survey template created within ContactMonkey's email template builder.

ContactMonkey is key to accomplishing this because it allows users to embed a variety of surveys directly into company messaging. For example, Exemplis uses ContactMonkey’s employee feedback tools to regularly poll employees on everything from company culture to the coffee makers, so when more in-depth surveys come their way, workers feel comfortable participating.

“It just feels super normal to the behaviors of our organization,” said Corey Kachigan, Exemplis’ engagement and communications lead.

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Leads to miscommunication

Without the context of nonverbal communication cues like tone of voice and facial expressions — or the opportunity to ask follow-up questions — it’s easy to misinterpret or misunderstand feedback. This leads to dangerous miscommunication in the workplace.

That’s why it’s important for communications managers to find ways to follow up with workers when necessary. For example, when polls and surveys are a regular practice in internal communications, you can pose questions that will help you delve deeper into a potential problem.

How Can I Collect Anonymous Employee Feedback

Like all employee feedback, anonymous feedback succeeds when part of an employee engagement strategy is catered to your employees. Every workforce is different, and how you foster a culture of feedback will be unique to your employees.

Anonymous employee surveys are handy because they let staff express concerns and share their honest feelings without fear of consequences. To get the most out of this type of survey, you need to ask effective anonymous survey questions, such as:

  • Your manager provides you with support at work whenever it’s needed. [Rate on a scale]
  • Would you say that you struggle to get resources and information to make better decisions at work? [Yes / No]
  • You feel that you’re rewarded for your dedication, effort, and commitment towards your work. [Rate on a scale]

These types of questions can be sensitive. They require the employee to be honest about their satisfaction with managers, workplace communication, and rewards systems. So it’s important to make these questions anonymous.

Using workplace digital communication, you can implement employee newsletter ideas like regular feedback by embedding questions—including pulse surveys questions—on your recurring communications.

With ContactMonkey, you can choose from a variety of surveys—like emoji reactions, star ratings, yes/no, thumbs up/down, and more:

Screenshot of survey options within ContactMonkey's email template builder.

In addition to these responses, you can enable employee commenting to give your employees the chance to add anonymous comments to their survey responses. After clicking their response in the email, they will be shown a window where they can enter their feedback.

You can learn how to increase internal email click-through rate by implementing internal newsletter best practices.

Screenshot of anonymous employee comment box inserted into an email using ContactMonkey's email template builder.

All of your anonymous employee feedback is collected and visualized within your analytics dashboard. From there you can sort your responses by department, location, and other criteria.

When you use ContactMonkey, it’s fast and easy to collect and analyze your employee feedback. Learn how to create anonymous surveys with ContactMonkey using our step-by-step guide.

Not sure what questions to use to collect anonymous feedback? Try using ContactMonkey’s OpenAI ChatGPT integration to generate survey questions based on prompts you provide. Simply describe what you’d like to accomplish, choose the generated questions that best suit your needs, and edit them according for you audience.

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Solicit Employee Feedback—Anonymous Or Not

As we’ve explored, there are numerous pros and cons to implementing an anonymous feedback system in the workplace. No matter which side of the issue you stand on, it’s clear: getting regular employee feedback is essential to success in the modern workplace.

When employees freely share their opinions, organizations retain employees and even perform better. In fact, one study found that when leaders at a national restaurant chain took the advice of managers, it reduced employee turnover by 32% and saved $1.6 million a year.

Luckily, consistently collecting this kind of invaluable data is easier than ever with ContactMonkey, which lets users create anonymous surveys in multiple ways, including pulse surveys, emoji reactions, and comment fields.

And ContactMonkey doesn’t only collect this data. It also provides detailed, easy-to-understand analytics to help you identify internal communication trends and make data-driven decisions to improve the workplace.

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