How To Encourage Honesty In Feedback Surveys

To ensure that your organisation is on the right track, you need to get some feedback from your most prized asset – your employees. For this to work, you need to ensure that there’s honesty in feedback surveys.

When conducting feedback surveys, you always want as many employees as possible to take part. After all, the more feedback you get, the more representative a picture you obtain.

However, if your employees aren’t speaking their minds, you’ll have a skewed image of your team or organisation. Therefore, you need to ensure that your employees are free enough to be honest in their replies.

This can be quite a difficult task if they feel that you’ll view them differently or that there will be retribution. To remedy this, you need to create a conducive work environment that breeds openness and honesty.

Read on to find out how you can encourage honesty in feedback surveys.

What steps can you take to introduce honesty in feedback surveys?

Sometimes a team leader or manager oversees their section with a strict approach. This can form a situation where workers don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions. The result is a feedback survey that’s full of falsehoods. This can lead to management enacting policies that are harmless at best and counterproductive at worst – either way, the efforts are rendered ineffective.

To get more representative results, you need to have complete and total honesty in feedback surveys.

Here’s how you can foster a culture of honesty in the workplace when it comes to surveys.

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Ensure that all submissions are anonymous

One of the biggest hurdles to truthfulness in surveys is that employees fear that the higher-ups won’t be satisfied with their answers. If the submissions are labelled, employees feel that there might be repercussions if they send in negative replies.

Therefore, they doctor their feedback to fit in with what they believe their team leaders or managers want to hear. However, this is detrimental to the overall purpose of the survey.

One way to circumvent this issue is by making the entire process anonymous. Employees will be more honest in their replies because they’re sure no one will identify their answers.

Act on the feedback

When employees respond to surveys, they shine a light on problems and hurdles they encounter when carrying out their duties. They expect that you’ll address these problems so that they can work efficiently and meet their goals.

However, some managers don’t consider many of these complaints as crucial hindrances to work. Consequently, they don’t address them.

This kind of inaction deflates employees’ morale. When it comes to subsequent surveys, they won’t bother being truthful in their replies. After all, when the employees raise issues, they aren’t worked upon.

To encourage honesty in feedback surveys, you need to show employees that you’re taking their suggestions under advisement. If you show your workers where and how you’ve implemented their feedback, you make it easier for them to open up even more in future surveys.

Be clear and specific about the purpose of the survey

When employees are present with a set of questions, they are hesitant to fill in the survey because they don’t know its purpose. And when they do answer, they might not be as truthful as you would like.

When answering feedback surveys, holding back will skew the results, making the entire set of submissions practically useless.

Lay out all the benefits of carrying out the feedback survey. Employees will be motivated to truthfully answer the questions if they know that the process will result in positive and meaningful changes in the workplace.

Additionally, you should be clear and specific about how all the data you collect will be used. This can prompt the employees to be more transparent in their answers if they know what exactly it’s going to be used for.

In some instances, you carry out feedback surveys where the submissions have identifying information. You need to be clear and specific about how you’re going to use this data. In the same breath, reassure the employees about the security of their personal data.

Encourage Honesty In Feedback Surveys

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Lead by example

Leading by example will never go out of fashion when it comes to organisational excellence. If you want to encourage honesty in employee feedback surveys, you need to be honest with your employees. Don’t focus on collecting feedback from employees; you should also give them some.

As a team leader, you can reveal both your wins and shortcomings in the area of interest. You can then ask them for their feedback in the same area.

If the team members see that you have been honest with your own feedback, they will be more truthful when they are submitting their answers. This will have a knock-on effect where members are more truthful in all subsequent requests for feedback.

Communicate with employees throughout the entire feedback collection process

Employees appreciate it if you keep them in the loop throughout the entire feedback process. Communicate to them before you initiate the process to identify all the areas that they believe need to be addressed.

When you give them the survey forms to fill out, communicate with them telling them how to respond and what personal information (if any) that they need to avail. At the end of the survey, inform them of what you’re doing with the data and the related measures and improvements you’re going to introduce.

By communicating effectively with employees throughout the entire process, you motivate them to be more honest. This spills over into any other feedback surveys you might carry out in the future.

In Summary

Collecting and analysing employee feedback shows the state of your team or organisation, highlighting high-performing aspects and shortcomings. However, to identify these aspects, you need to work with honest information from the surveys.

Therefore, you should put in place practices that foster honesty in feedback surveys. This will lead to significant improvements based on a factual representation of the state of affairs in your organisation.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.