Employees don’t trust employee surveys.

Every time I ask one of my friends about them, the same thing always comes up. They feel as if they can’t be honest, and they don’t trust them at all.

They don’t trust that it’s truly anonymous, and they don’t trust that anything will actually be done with the results.

Most companies approach the process in such a silly way.

I recently wrote about companies doing employee surveys properly, and how Dish was rated the worst company to work for in America a few years ago, so only then did they decide to implement an employee survey to figure out what was wrong.

Too many companies do this as a reaction to something, or they think that they should be measuring how employees feel for some arbitrary reason.

Even if your intentions are good, employees don’t trust them, and don’t believe in you or the process.

So, the question then becomes, how can we make employees trust them?

Great question.

There are a few key ingredients I think you need to have with your employee surveys to make them successful.

1. Good Communication

This is the most important tip I’ll share, and one that too many companies don’t do.

You need to communicate with your employees before the survey actually begins. Tell them that it’s okay for them to be honest, you want them to be a part of the process, and explain to them the point of the survey.

In most cases, these types of questions are only answered to senior level staff. This is the wrong approach. Your front-line employees are the ones who know what’s actually going on, so if anyone should know these things, it’s them.

2. Honest Answers

This is also a key ingredient, but there are 2 ways to make this happen.

The first, and more important one, is to encourage employees to be honest. If you communicate properly with them, and explain to them that the whole point of this is to improve what’s wrong with the business, they might be more receptive to submitting honest answers.

The second way this happens, and this leads perfectly to point #3, is over time, you’ll start to build credibility.

Remember, trust is earned.

If you want employees to trust you, you have to prove to them that you’re trustworthy.

3. Take Action

According to a recent infographic about employee surveys that we released, there were 2 very shocking statistics:

  • 52% of managers reviewed survey results but took no action
  • 27% of managers never reviewed survey results at all

If you do an employee survey, but then take no action, good luck trying to do another one a year later.

Like I mentioned, trust is earned over time. Even if it’s something small, if you show employees that you’re actually acting on their recommendations, they’ll be much more likely to be even more honest and participate even more on the next round.

4. Ensure Anonymity

This is a tough one to accomplish, because employees are skeptical, but this is important to get those honest answers.

Explain to employees that this isn’t a witch hunt, you don’t even care who says what, and in fact, you encourage employees to be as honest as possible, so even if you did know who it was (which you don’t), it wouldn’t matter.

If you can explain to them that all answers are anonymous, they might be more willing to be honest.

Often, companies will use outside vendors specifically for this reason, but even if you do it internally, there are ways to ensure true anonymity.

Your Turn: What Do You Think Of Employee Surveys?

What experiences have you had in your company that you can share with us?