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Benefits of Confidential Surveys vs. Non-Confidential

Posted on: February 16th, 2018 by Megan Wibben

When you want to measure the thoughts and opinions your employees have about their work experiences, you’ll want to consider conducting employee surveys. Employee surveys, whether it’s exit, new hire, or engagement, are great sources of information. They allow you to gather the information you need in a concise and quick manner while gleaning important insight from the data you wouldn’t have had otherwise. However, deciding to do a survey isn’t the only important choice you’ll need to make. There are a number of decisions to be made before implementing the surveys to ensure you get what you need and nothing else. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make before you begin is whether or not they will be confidential, as this can have a strong impact on the survey outcomes.

Confidential surveys allow data users to see all survey data in an aggregated form. Users can see trends between demographics or time – a big picture snapshot that still allows you to drill down to the specifics that can drive decisions. Non-confidential surveys allow the data users to see everything and the participants that responded in various ways. On the surface, it may seem like non-confidential is the obvious choice, since you have “more information” at your fingertips. However, generally speaking, the opposite is actually true.

A deep dive into the data of a customer that started as confidential and switched to non-confidential shows us what makes a non-confidential survey less appropriate. After the switch, survey scores inflated, percent favorable (the number of 4s and 5s on a 5-point survey scale) increased, and participation decreased. Average scores increased by .10 points and percent favorable scores increased 3%. The largest difference we saw was a massive dip in participation – it dropped 12%.

Confidential surveys allow you to get the best and most accurate responses at a higher participation rate from your employees. It’s not enough to simply gather the data. You need to collect data that will be helpful to the organization. Confidential surveys allow you to do this in a way non-confidential ones do not. Why risk a low participation rate and inflated scores to attach a name to the responses?

If you’re ready to get the information you really need from your employees to make positive and meaningful organizational change, take our engagement score assessment to understand more deeply how comprehensive your organization’s employee engagement strategy is and how it can be improved.

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