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Earning Employee Trust and Loyalty in the Age of Anonymous Surveys

In an effort to build employee trust, organizations have turned to employee surveys to aid management in better understanding the needs of the employees. While the surveys are well-intentioned, the results often backfire. In more extreme cases, the anonymous nature of the surveys cause the employees more stress and may lead to suspicions about the motivation behind the survey. While surveys have a positive impact when the organization listens to employee concerns and acts on the information collected, failing to take action on anonymous employee feedback is where most organizations sabotage efforts at building trust and garnering loyalty from employees.

Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement Surveys

Conducting anonymous job satisfaction surveys and employee engagement surveys are two common tools used by companies meant to provide useful data to managers. Job satisfaction surveys gauge how content employees are in their job. Employee engagement assessments measure the emotional commitment employees feel towards the company and how much they care about the success of the organization. These types of assessments ask probing questions that may lead to responses critical of management or the organization. Ideally, the anonymity of the surveys protects employee privacy, and the results potentially provide insightful data to help boost morale, productivity, and success across the board. However, when management administers these assessments without any follow-through, employees may begin to question the motives behind the surveys and attitudes shift to skepticism and distrust. When this occurs, employees may fear the surveys are not really anonymous and their answers may be used against them.

Take Action and Share Results of Surveys

The best way to avoid any negative consequences of anonymous surveys is to take immediate action based on the feedback. When the surveys are complete, and the data is processed, share the aggregated results with employees. Discuss possible changes to resolve issues uncovered and encourage employees to participate in making improvements. When employees see that management takes the feedback seriously, they begin to trust more and may feel more willing to contribute feedback in the future. Below are recommendations on how to create a positive environment that encourages employee input and participation:

  • Meet with employees to discuss survey results and other feedback.
  • Acknowledge any and all feedback promptly and take action when appropriate.
  • Remind employees on a regular basis that constructive feedback is always welcome.
  • Encourage employees to share new ideas or propose solutions to problems at any time.
  • Ask employees questions related to possible courses of action based on feedback.
  • Act quickly to resolve all issues.

Once employees are confident that the anonymous surveys are private and produce positive change, they will likely be more willing to give direct feedback to management without any concerns over possible recourse. In short, employees will trust management.

Employee Trust Leads to Employee Loyalty

The more improvement initiatives are enacted based on employee feedback; the more employees see that managers are committed to creating the best work environment and increasing employee engagement. Engaged employees, those that feel a strong sense of dedication, are motivated, productive and trust the organization. A strong foundation of trust leads to lower levels of turnover and boosts employee loyalty.

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