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:
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nursing Management looked at the effectiveness of using anonymous feedback as a component of nurse management evaluations at Tel-Aviv University. The authors found that anonymous feedback “is an effective tool by which real feedback is gathered on ‘things which are not talked about’.” They further found that anonymous feedback offered a unique opportunity for low-ranking employees to share their opinions without fear of retaliation.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology looked at the impact of anonymity vs. confidentiality in surveys that included sensitive questions involving cheating. The authors found that 47% of the respondents admitted to cheating when anonymity was guaranteed, while only 13% admitted to cheating when confidentiality was promised.
Studies conducted by Professor Craig Scott at the University of Texas and Professor Stephen Rains at the University of Arizona suggest that there is an important place for anonymous communication within organizations. Additionally, he found that anonymity provides “less enfranchised organizational members with important communication opportunities.”
Professor Peter Cappelli of the Wharton Business School argues that anonymous feedback is an effective tool for improving company culture because it empowers conscientious employees to bring their full capabilities to bear on improving the company, without fear of reprisal.