Anonymous employee feedback does more harm than good. Here's why.

Aditya Rao

One of the most popular feature request on Kaapi is to allow employees to submit their answers anonymously. Almost every other employee survey tool does this. But on Kaapi, if a team member answers a check-in question, the manager always knows who said what. We did a lot of soul-searching recently on why we are uncomfortable with anonymous feedback.

Anonymous employee feedback breeds mistrust

The anonymous approach is a signal to your team that providing feedback & raising your voice can be penalised. That it's risky.

Your people shouldn't feel nervous if they give feedback; they should be empowered. As leaders, we should promote transparency; not not stifle it. If you are scared of getting less responses because of non-anonymity than unfortunately there are deeper issues to solve within the team.

And as a team member, if you are not accountable for what you say; then feedback mechanisms can soon turn into a "mean spirited" Youtube comments section.

Anonymous feedback is not actionable

How do you solve an issue if you don't know where it is coming from? Taking action on feedback can only be done with full context. If you as a CEO get feedback that "_Your communication skills as a leader needs improvement_"; the solution to fix this would be very different for an engineer vs a marketer.

You can't follow up on anonymous feedback, and neither can you work with anyone to fix it. It's a black box where opinions go to die.

And the core reason why your team members have to be forced to fill these surveys? It's because you didn't take any action on the last one. This is the vicious cycle that breaks team cultures.

After some time, you start ignoring such feedback

Because you can't take any next steps on it, most leaders stop taking it seriously. They turn from believer to skeptic (in their own system).

This leads to the vicious cycle again - since you are ignoring the feedback; your people also stop taking it seriously. It becomes a formality. Feedback can not be a one way street! It needs responses, push backs, dialogues and changes.

When is anonymous feedback ok?

Anonymous employee feedback might be ok for large orgs that conduct CHRO annual pulse surveys. In that scenario, we feel it is ok to have anonymous feedback.. This is usually done at large companies by dedicated HR teams. The goal of these surveys is to understand macro patterns of how people are feeling. And in that case, making it anonymous will get your more responses and you do not need to take any action on it.

At Kaapi we want to continue building stronger solutions that help you take action on feedback.

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