Now Is a Great Time to Collect Anonymous Feedback from Employees Working from Home

Posted March 24th, 2020

The world is now several months into the COVID-19 pandemic and many local, state, and national governments are requiring companies to shut their doors and allow employees to work from home. Remote work can be a challenge for some, but it does offer one key benefit: a quiet time away from colleagues to reflect upon work life.

We are biologically attuned to the emotions of those around us. Removing our coworkers from the situation opens up our ability to convey our thoughts honestly without considering how others will immediately react. In other words, employees working from home are in a safe place now, removed from ordinary work-life and it is much easier to take a step back and approach their feedback holistically.

Make the most of “extra time”

Many remote employees have more time on their hands. With the average American commute consuming almost an hour each day and a likely dip in workload, some employees have several idle hours each day to reflect upon their work or craft new ideas. Forward-thinking organizations should encourage them to submit new ideas or spend some time developing out previous ideas they had been forced to back-burner.

Retain your best workers

Inevitably, some employees will use their downtime to begin searching for a new job. This underscores the need for anonymous feedback as a retention strategy. Research shows that employees are more candid when their personal anonymity is guaranteed. Giving employees a safe, anonymous tool to address their grievances can ultimately keep them around.

Collecting anonymous feedback is easy

Incogneato is a safe, anonymous employee feedback tool that is also significantly less expensive than other options. We believe that all organizations should be able to collect anonymous feedback without having to pay hefty monthly fees. This especially rings true now as organizations are trying to cut costs to survive. Incogneato is free for the first 30 days and no credit card is required until you subscribe to a plan.

The months ahead will be trying times for many organizations. We hope your business weathers the storm and comes out stronger and that your employees stay safe during this challenging period.

For additional reading, we recommend the following:

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Best Practices for Creating an Employee Suggestion Box

Posted March 16th, 2020

Best practices for creating an employee suggestion box

Creating a simple employee suggestion box can have a massive impact on employee morale, workplace culture, and the overall success of your organization. There are many other benefits of an employee suggestion box, which we have already covered in another article. This article will focus on some best practices for getting your employee suggestion box up and running.

If you’re familiar with Incogneato, then you know we make it very easy to create a suggestion box. All you need is a box title and an email address to create a live, fully-functional employee suggestion box. If you’re collecting feedback from a specific group for a single purpose, you can immediately share your box address and start collecting feedback. However, if your aim is to launch a sophisticated, long-lasting feedback program, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Determine what type of feedback you need to collect. Are you looking for leadership feedback? Feedback for a specific team? Or perhaps you are collecting reports of misconduct. Sometimes you can collect all employee feedback in one box, but most of the time – especially with larger organizations – it makes more sense to create a different box for each purpose. With Incogneato, you can designate box managers to view and respond to feedback left only in the box(es) they are assigned to. You can also create a customized web address for each box so employees can be sure they’re at the right place. For more thorough feedback, you can add up to 25 open-ended questions to each box.

  2. Make sure the executive team supports the initiative. If company leadership does not support the employee suggestion box initiative, it will be more likely to fail. Employees at all levels need to know that management cares about the feedback they provide and will actually take it to heart. If the executive team is apprehensive, try educating them on the benefits of anonymous employee feedback. You can start with The Benefits of an Anonymous Employee Suggestion box, The Research Behind Anonymous Employee Feedback, and Why Are Many People Choosing to Stay Anonymous? You can also find many more articles on our blog.

  3. Customize each box for its intended use. Now that you’ve created a box for each type of employee feedback you want to collect, you can customize each one so employees use it correctly. Start by adding a few lines of introduction text to each box. This is where you can ask for feedback in specific areas and assure employees that all feedback will remain anonymous. To make sure employees know they’re at the right place, you can create a custom web address for each box, upload your logo, and choose a button color to match. If you want to make sure that only certain employees access your box, you can password-protect it and/or restrict it by IP address. As we previously mentioned, you can also add up to 25 questions to each box.

  4. Create a launch plan. Whether you slowly roll out your employee feedback program or aim for a big push, you should create a plan for how it will be introduced to employees. Here are several ideas:
    • Send a company-wide email (preferably from leadership) explaining your feedback initiative with links to your boxes.
    • Post your box link to the employee intranet or other employee-only websites.
    • Print out your box web address and post it in employee gathering spots.
    • Ask management and HR employees to include a link to their boxes in email signatures.

  5. Continue promoting and sharing the boxes. As we covered in another post, the feedback loop is a revolving cycle. It needs a continuous supply of honest, open feedback to continue evolving and effecting positive change. If your initial round of feedback is light, don’t be discouraged. It can often take a few tries before employees become comfortable leaving anonymous feedback.

  6. Read, follow through, and communicate. One of the unique features of Incogneato is the ability to hold anonymous conversations with your respondents. If feedback is unclear, engage the employee anonymously and ask for more information. Once you feel the issue has been solved – or on a path to being solved – reach back out to the employee to let them know. You can also use Incogneato’s Anonymous Voting and Discussion tool to crowdsource an idea with a larger group.

If you haven’t already, you can give Incogneato a try for free by setting up your first anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during the trial.

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New Feature: Spanish and German Language Support

Posted March 6th, 2020

(Professional and Premier Plans)

Today we launched a new feature that allows Professional and Premier Plan customers to offer their suggestion boxes in either Spanish or German languages. Language settings are applied to each box so an account owner with multiple boxes can assign a different language to each box, if desired.

Dashboards and other pages only seen by account owners and box managers will remain in English when language settings are changed to either Spanish or German.

To change your suggestion box language to either Spanish or German, simply login to your dashboard and click the edit icon beside Response Page Language.

Want to see support for your language added next? Let us know what you’d like to see and we will prioritize adding it.


The Research Behind Anonymous Employee Feedback

Posted February 12th, 2020

Anonymous Employee Feedback

We often hear from organizations who like the idea of collecting anonymous employee feedback, but want to see some research before launching a suggestion box of their own. Fortunately, there’s lots out there. To assist, we’ve compiled the following list:

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Closing the Employee Feedback Loop with Anonymous Feedback

Posted January 14th, 2020

Traditionally, collecting employee feedback was limited to annual performance reviews or irregular feedback requests. Smart organizations gradually realized that employee feedback should function as an ongoing loop, ever evolving to strengthen the organization.

Using a “loop” as a visual indicator helps to convey the revolving nature of employee feedback. The loop begins with the collection of candid, honest feedback, which management then analyzes and uses to develop a plan of action. Once the plan is in place, employees are encouraged to continue submitting feedback and the plan of action continues to evolve. The result is a stronger organization with happier employees, who in turn create more satisfied customers.

Limitations of Direct Employee Feedback

In order for a feedback loop to continue evolving, it needs a continuous supply of honest, open feedback. Without it, action plans can become watered down, or in the worst case, never develop. As we’ve covered in another post on anonymity, employees tend to avoid negativity when providing direct feedback and are reluctant to irritate or challenge their superiors. In an article on conducting employee surveys, HBR noted that when asked to submit feedback, anonymity is the number one concern for employees. The same study shows that when employees have a guarantee of anonymity, they are more likely to submit honest, productive feedback — and even submit more of it.

Closing the Feedback Loop with Incogneato

Incogneato plays an essential role in both closing the employee feed loop and helping it continue to revolve. As a trusted third party, Incogneato helps organizations collect anonymous employee feedback without having to worry about inadvertently storing log files or otherwise finding out the identity of an employee who wished to remain anonymous. With a trusted system in place, employees will be more likely to continue submitting the type of honest, productive feedback that keeps the feedback loop revolving.

How Is Incogneato Different from Other Anonymous Suggestion Boxes?

One of the key differences between Incogneato and other suggestion boxes is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial piece of employee feedback leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. Our Anonymous Chat feature lets you immediately ask a follow up question or for request further clarification. This one feature is key to a more effective employee feedback loop, as it helps management to more thoroughly understand the issue before an action plan is developed. Another difference is price.

We believe that all organizations should be able to safely collect anonymous feedback without having to pay hefty monthly fees.

If you haven’t already, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.

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New Feature: Multiple Questions per Box

Posted January 10th, 2020

(Premier Plan Only)

Today we launched a new feature that allows customers on the Premier Plan to add up to 25 more questions to each box. Each additional question can either be required or not.

Adding additional questions to your box can greatly increase the value of each piece of feedback you receive. The break between questions may give your respondents an opportunity to consider each question more thoroughly and ultimately provide a more thoughtful response. As always, you can still use Incogneato’s powerful Anonymous Reply tool to anonymously ask follow-up questions and fill in any gaps.

To add a new question, simply login to your dashboard and click the “+” icon within your box preview. Additional instructions can be found here.

Like most of the feature updates we launch, this one was requested multiple times by Incogneato customers. If there is a feature you would like to see added, please let us know. We read and carefully consider every request.

If you haven’t already, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.


Anonymous Reporting as a Compliance Tool

Posted December 17th, 2019

Once a niche role limited to the financial and insurance industries, the field of compliance management has been on the rise as organizations are faced with increased regulation, litigation, and consumer outcry. Corporations, healthcare providers, government agencies, and even small businesses now need to be more vigilant than ever in order to protect themselves. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in a specific area of compliance management (financial examiners) is projected to grow by 7% in the next decade. That’s 2% more than the average of all occupations nationwide.

Compliance management is a diverse field with responsibilities including reviewing current practices, identifying relevant laws and regulations, educating staff, predicting future risks, and conducting internal investigations. While each responsibility has its own set of challenges, conducting internal investigations can be among the most difficult – especially when unethical or illegal events have taken place.

How Can Incogneato Help?

Organizations are increasingly turning to Incogneato to help collect anonymous whistleblower feedback from employees at all levels. Research shows that anonymous feedback can be very effective in gathering information from people who would otherwise remain silent out of fear of retaliation or embarrassment. One of the key differences between Incogneato and other whistleblower tools is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial tip leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. The Anonymous Chat feature lets you immediately ask for more details or to clarify those already given.

Is Incogneato Really Anonymous?

Incogneato takes anonymity and security seriously. In addition to using 256-bit SSL encryption for all communication within Incogneato, there is continuous threat monitoring in place and the latest server software is always in use. Perhaps most significantly, Incogneato does not collect any personal identifying information from those submitting feedback, unless they choose to include an email address (which is encrypted before storing).

If you haven’t already, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.

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Why Are Many People Choosing to Stay Anonymous?

Posted September 24th, 2019

In recent years, people have become more aware of the dangers associated with sharing mounds of personal information online. Data breaches are certainly nothing new, but used to affect larger organizations more so than the reputations of individuals. Then came a series of Facebook data breaches starting in 2013, followed by Tumblr, Twitter, Google+ and more. In total, more than 545 million records were exposed in Facebook’s breaches alone. Another 65 million were exposed in the Tumblr hack, and the list goes on and on.

At first, many thought the breaches wouldn’t make a dent in the massive numbers of people interacting within these networks. Over time, however people began to take action. One study conducted over the summer of 2018 found that 42% of Facebook users took a break from the site in the past year. It further found that 52% adjusted their privacy settings, and 26% deleted the app from their phone. While still growing, Facebook’s growth has been slowing down across North America and in Europe. In addition to Facebook, Tumblr growth has slowed significantly and Twitter appears to have plateaued several years ago.

On the other side of the coin is Reddit — a social network known for anonymity and “throwaway accounts.” Reddit’s user base has been skyrocketing over the past few years and is projected to continue growing through 2023. Unlike other social networks, many Reddit users attempt to remain anonymous and completely control what they reveal about themselves. Using these anonymous accounts, Reddit users are free to engage in candid discussion across millions of topics.

What Does This Mean for Workplace Feedback?

People have become much more aware of the dangers associated with sharing personal information. The lessons learned from social media can have a direct effect in other areas of life as well. Someone who is less likely to post personal information on Facebook out of fear of it being seen by the wrong pair of eyes may be equally as reluctant to comment on workplace issues out in the open. We’ve learned that data can be breached and anything we say can be used against us at some point. This is especially salient when dealing with contentious or sensitive issues.

So What’s the Solution?

Using an anonymous suggestion box to collect workplace feedback (like Incogneato) can help employees feel more comfortable giving candid, honest feedback. Additionally, using a trusted third party to collect anonymous feedback prevents organizations from mistakenly storing log files or other pieces of data that can inadvertently reveal the identities of respondents. As we’ve covered in another post, there’s lots more research supporting the use of anonymous feedback.

What Makes Incogneato Safe?

Incogneato takes anonymity and security seriously. In addition to using 256-bit SSL encryption for all communication within Incogneato, there is continuous threat monitoring in place, and the latest server software is always in use. Perhaps most significantly, Incogneato does not collect any personal identifying information from those submitting feedback, unless they choose to include an email address (which is encrypted before storing).

If you haven’t already, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.

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Does Anonymous Workplace Feedback Really Work?

Posted September 3rd, 2019

If you know what we do at Incogneato, then you can likely assume our position on this question. However, as the number of companies we help collect anonymous employee feedback continues to grow, we uncover new reasons for why it is so effective. 

First, the counterargument…

Most often, we hear “anonymity breeds negativity.” It’s hard to argue with that one. Just hang out on Reddit for a few minutes and you’ll see it firsthand. However, we’ve found that anonymity does not exclusively breed negativity. And oftentimes when it does, the negative feedback is also constructive. The trick is to brush off the negativity — and if you can — learn to pick out the constructive pieces.

Take for example the following (fictitious) piece of feedback: 

Bob the manager is universally hated. He treats everyone like garbage and genuinely has a chip on his shoulder. I quit because of him.

Obviously, the feedback is harsh and Bob would prefer not to be told off in this manner. At the same time, it’s brutally honest. Bob likely does have issues with his employees and may have never known they felt this way before. He may have previously viewed himself as strict but fair based on face-to-face feedback he’s received. If Bob can move past the comment’s bluntness, he can change for the better.

Does anonymity breed honesty?

According to HR expert and author Steve Cohen, many employees fall into the category of flighters. In other words, they eschew conflict and often busy themselves with other work or avoid managers altogether when there is perceived conflict. Flighters are also more likely to withhold knowledge and gossip internally, which is never healthy for an organization. On the opposing end of course are fighters. These people gain power by force or personality. Often times when fighters go head-to-head with flighters, the flighter backs down and decides to withhold key information. Anonymous tools that remove the risk of conflict (like Incogneato) are highly effective in gaining honest insights from these conflict-averse employees.

But my organization is open and communicative. Can we still benefit from anonymous feedback?

While unlikely, let’s pretend there exists an organization where every employee and manager is approachable, cordial, and accepts feedback graciously. Can this organization still benefit from anonymous feedback? Absolutely, and here’s why. Sitting in front of a screen composing feedback allows the employee to collect their thoughts without having to focus on a person in front of them. We are biologically attuned to the emotions of those around us. Removing them from the situation opens up our ability to convey our thoughts honestly without thinking about how others will immediately react. In other words, employees are in a safe place where they can focus on the feedback instead of the person. 

I’m convinced. But how is Incogneato different from other anonymous feedback tools?

One of the key differences between Incogneato and other suggestion boxes is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial piece of employee feedback leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. Our Anonymous Chat feature lets you immediately ask a follow up question or request further clarification.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Incogneato is less expensive than most competitors. How do we do it? We run lean. We do not employ a sales force so our team is solely focused on making the best product we can. 

We believe that all organizations should be able to safely collect anonymous feedback without having to pay hefty monthly fees.

When you’re ready, give Incogneato a try by setting up a free anonymous suggestion box. No credit card is required during your trial.

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Introducing Labels: One Powerful Feature with Two Great Uses

Posted April 24th, 2019

(Professional and Premier Plans Only)

Today we launched a new feature we’re calling “Labels and Assignments.” This single feature serves a dual purpose. First, it allows you to apply internal-only labels to your feedback for organization and prioritization. Next, it allows you to link your labels to individual box managers as a way to delegate the task of responding to (or implementing) the feedback you receive. Here’s how they both work:

Feedback Labels

To create a new label, expand the “Box Settings” area and click the green icon beside “Labels and Assignments.” In the window that opens, simply name your label (and optionally assign it to a box manager — more about that in the next section) and click “Add.” To assign feedback to a label, open your feedback and select the appropriate label from the drop down list.

Labels can serve many purposes. Here are just a few ways you can use them:

Feedback Assignments

When creating a label, you have the option of linking it to an existing box manager. When feedback is tied to that label, the box manager receives a notification. If they choose to hold an anonymous conversation, the box manager’s email addresses will display when you hover over the note (only in the dashboard, not in the respondent’s view). While not quite a ticketing system, it does allow for easy delegation and accountability.

How Are Labels Different from Tags?

Think of tags as a way for your respondents to self-categorize their responses. If your tags are descriptive enough, often times the chosen tag can be an important part of their feedback. Consider the following example. Let’s say you offer the following tags to your respondents: Cost Savings Idea and Employee Retention Idea. Then, an employee submits the following idea: “Offer the option of leaving early every Friday to employees who meet a goal.” Tagging that idea as a Cost Savings Idea implies that they feel the company will save money with improved efficiency throughout the week, while tagging it as an Employee Retention Idea implies the company may save money by keeping current employees happy. Both ideas may ultimately save the company money, but may need to be thought through in very different ways. For example, framing an idea as a Cost Savings Idea may spark other, cost-saving ideas, while framing it as an Employee Retention Idea turns it into an idea for HR to consider.

Ultimately, tags may not categorize your responses as accurately as your labels will, but they can give you a great head start in organizing your box or analyzing the feedback.