DIY or Outsourced Employee Engagement Surveys?

What does workplace breach of confidentiality mean? Well, what if you were to say something disparaging about Big Boss, to someone you “trust”, yet somehow Big Boss learns about those criticisms?

For a good many employees, worry about confidentiality is an oppressive fear factor when an Employee Engagement survey arrives in their inbox. “Just how secure are my comments?” they wonder, and opt to temper or altogether avoid saying anything brutally honest, untoward. Reluctance may be with good reason.  A cursory Google search brings up cautionary legal advice from a Los Angeles business attorney, and a flat out “don’t go there” from a Forbes self-styled advice columnist who suggests truthfulness could paint the inquiring reader into a career limiting corner – the traitorous complainer!

Maybe that lawyer and columnist both had bad experiences or were basing their comments on employee opinion surveys designed, deployed and dissected by do-it-yourselfers.  Sure, Survey Monkey, and other online tools like it:

  • Are cheap and make it seemingly simple to create surveys
  • Filter results and analyze data looking for trends
  • Share findings without giving viewer access to the account
  • Download data to your computer for further analysis, and
  • Results can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet to create graphs.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But what happens to confidentiality if, (for instance), candid findings from a small department (say three or four employees in all), gets into the hands of that department’s manager. Chances are, those comments can easily be matched to each individual respondent. Not good.

The Pitfalls of Doing it Yourself

Indeed, there are plenty of risks around doing an in-house employee opinion survey. Studies have shown employees are:

  • Less likely to respond honestly if they know their employer is collecting the data themselves
  • Fearful their responses can (or will) be accessed by HR or IT
  • More likely to self-censor responses because of confidentiality and use of data concerns
  • Inclined not to participate – resulting in low response rates.

Low response rates are doubly not good. This can lead to greatly reduced confidence in results, across the organization, and in turn, the inability to build action plans based on feedback validity.

Outsourcing Benefits

By outsourcing the Employee Engagement survey process, a third-party vendor like TalentMap, delivers benefits on several fronts:

  • An extra layer of secrecy is introduced, which addresses confidentiality and validity concerns
  • Response rates increase as much as 40% and in some cases, even double; TalentMap’s results elicit 80% participation on average
  • Questionnaires, scientifically structured, measure and compare quantitative and qualitative results with scientifically-sound precision
  • Questionnaires are regularly sector-specific to the organization; outcomes are benchmarked against industry data to provide broader insights
  • Questionnaires can be deployed in different languages and in different formats (smartphones, tablets, PCs and paper)
  • Survey programming, deployment, and management including all communications on behalf of the organization are handled by third-party employee engagement survey providers; this frees up time for staff (that might otherwise be tasked to create, deploy and tabulate the survey themselves) to focus on other, more pressing business matters.
  • Third-party vendors provide an executive & departmental summary of results to your management team and can also provide Action Plan consultation and implementation if requested.

So, yes, while a DIY tool like Survey Monkey may initially appear like a valid cost-efficient option, the staff time and effort involved, and worries about anonymity, compromise any savings. For honest and open employee feedback and a far greater return on investment, outsourced employee engagement surveys outscore DIY.

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