Are employee surveys really anonymous? 

by | Jun 27, 2024

Anonymity in employee surveys is required for it to serve as a sustainable improvement process. While it is expected, not all employee survey software enforces anonymity.  

Why should employee surveys be anonymous?

Ensuring employee anonymity is the most fundamental pillar for building trust and fostering a constructive atmosphere for pulse surveys within the organization. At Populum, we are often asked: “Can we cross-reference all our selected background variables? Our previous employee survey provider allowed this.” While we welcome this question and understand the customer our answer is always “Yes, but….”. We have the technical capabilities, but this compromises anonymity and will eventually dilute the purpose of measuring engagement and experience, which should be to learn the authentic opinions of employees to continuously improve the organization. Even at an aggregate level, it may be surprising how many responses are hidden. Carefully scrutinizing your supplier and comparing different reports to ensure that individual responses cannot be inferred is of utmost importance. 

A real-life example of anonymity breach 

An example of when an organization used a different software solution and anonymity was not enforced is when an HR Director filtered the survey results based on gender for his own team. The team comprised 9 individuals, including 2 men. Despite an anonymity threshold of 3, the Director could filter survey results by gender, but only for the women as they were more than 3. However, this presents an issue as the director could compare the aggregate results with those of women, thereby gaining access to the results of men. Consistency in upholding anonymity standards across demographics is crucial for fair reporting of survey findings. 

Tip: Stress test your vendor 

Ensuring anonymity might seem straightforward at first glance, but behind the scenes, it’s a complex journey. We’ve poured countless hours into refining our anonymity protocols to ensure that every response—be it an answer or comment—is shrouded in secrecy. Our commitment? To guarantee that no single contribution can ever be traced back to an individual. It’s not just about safeguarding privacy; it’s about crafting a space where voices can speak freely, without fear of exposure. 

Are you satisfied with your Pulse platform vendor? Fantastic! However, it’s crucial to ensure that the veil of anonymity they promise truly holds up under scrutiny. Here are three vital checkpoints you might want to consider stress testing: 

  1. Comparing Segmented Reports: Verify the anonymity by comparing results across different segmented reports of the same team. If any discrepancies arise, it could indicate a breach in anonymity protocols.
  2. Language Diversity: Does your team include members who speak different languages? Ensure that your vendor’s anonymity measures extend to individuals irrespective of the language they communicate in.
  3. Comment Oversight: Keep an eye out for any names mentioned in comments. Can these comments be effectively hidden until reviewed by HR or relevant personnel? Ensuring such mechanisms are in place can bolster the integrity of your anonymity safeguards.

How can Populum ensure anonymity? 

  1. Our commitment to anonymity is evident in our stringent data security measures. Each response is securely stored, guaranteeing anonymity for all participants. We maintain GDPR compliance, ensuring that personal data is always protected.
  2. Language diversity poses no barrier to anonymity with Populum. We can seamlessly translate responses from any local language into English, maintaining uniform confidentiality across all participants.
  3. Moreover, our sensitive comment analysis system swiftly identifies and hides potentially identifying information until reviewed by authorized personnel. This meticulous process underscores our dedication to preserving anonymity and confidentiality. 

At Populum, we stand by our promise to deliver 100% anonymity, prioritizing the protection of our customers’ privacy above all else. 

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