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.

See more:

Putting a Hard Value on Your Anonymous Feedback Program

Posted December 27th, 2018

Before initiating an anonymous feedback program, many organizations attempt to forecast its annual value in terms of revenue saved or earned. Those who have tested anonymous feedback programs in the past have an excellent benchmark to gauge future results, but for those who have not, forecasting can be a challenge. Cost-effective and simple-to-setup solutions like Incogneato make it easy to launch a short-term test to collect data without incurring a significant expense. However, some organizations have internal policies (or preferences) that require a forecast before any program can be initiated.

Here are several strategies to help you forecast or gauge the hard value of your anonymous feedback program:

Look at Employee Retention

According to SHRM, the average cost per hire is $4,129. Another study found the cost of re-hiring a midrange position ($30-$50K per year) to be 20% of the employee’s future salary. But how do you know if you’ve actually retained an employee by addressing their anonymous complaints?

Due to the nature of anonymous feedback, you cannot actually tie an individual employee to a problem solved. You can, however, look at the severity of the anonymous complaints you’ve addressed. For example, you will likely not lose an employee over unpalatable vending machine options, but if you seriously address multiple complaints about a toxic manager or co-worker, it may be reasonable to assume that you have retained an employee. The Balance Careers published a list of the top reasons employees quit their jobs. Reasons ranged from sour relationships with coworkers to a lack of autonomy on the job.

For those forecasting potential results of an anonymous feedback program, it may be useful to look at past exit interview records and make a list of reasons employees cited for leaving. Then determine which employees could have been retained had you known about the issue and had a chance to fix it. Research shows that employees are more candid when their personal anonymity is guaranteed and may not share important information while still employed.

Are Your Customers Happy?

Customer happiness can be a difficult metric to directly measure, but in many cases can be indirectly observed by looking at repurchasing behavior or loyalty. For organizations with customer accounts, tying initial purchases to repeat purchases is simple. Those with referral or affiliate programs have the added benefit of measuring customer evangelism (word-of-mouth marketing).

Like with employee retention, you cannot tie a specific customer to their anonymous feedback, but you can look at trends while the anonymous feedback program was in place. If your repurchasing/loyalty rate jumped while you were addressing anonymous customer feedback, you may be able to assume a causal relationship.

For those forecasting potential results of an anonymous feedback program, it can be useful to look at past customer retention rates over time. If they are stagnant or low for your industry, look at exit surveys you may have collected and try to determine if any issues could have been solved had you known about them. You can also reach out to past customers to ask why they moved on.

Look at Recent Growth

Lastly, you may be able to tie organizational growth to an anonymous feedback program. It’s easy to downplay the significance of your feedback program by calling it a “simple suggestion box”, but organizations are complex entities with many inputs and outputs. A good anonymous feedback program lets you address key customer and employee concerns or ideas in a safe, meaningful way that can have massive impacts on long-term growth.

Incogneato makes it easy to collect and address anonymous feedback from employees, customers, or just about anyone else. If you haven’t already, start your free trial now. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.

See more:

Should You Reply to Negative Feedback?

Posted September 11th, 2018

Should you reply to negative feedback?

A common question asked by those collecting feedback is whether or not to respond to negative feedback. In our opinion, the answer is YES.

Positive feedback is great. It’s a virtual pat on the back. More importantly, it validates the work you’ve done and makes you feel good about yourself or your organization. Negative feedback on the other hand is much easier to ignore. It can often present additional work or invalidate the work you’ve done. But it should never be ignored. Here’s why:

It offers a rare path to improvement.

Trolls aside, people leave negative feedback because they are trying to help. They care about your organization or about it’s potential benefits. For every person who leaves negative feedback, many more will stay silent and simply walk away. Take negative feedback seriously and use it to improve your product or service. It may even be the case that no improvements are necessary there was a simple misunderstanding. In any case, you should always reply back to the respondent.

It opens an important dialogue.

It can be very angering to have feedback ignored, especially if the person is already upset. A quick reply can diffuse the situation immediately and open a meaningful dialogue between you and the respondent. You might not be able to solve their problem right away, but letting them know you care is a good first step. If you’re using a canned response, consider customizing it a bit by reiterating their concerns. As you work toward a solution, reply back with occasional updates or an estimated timeframe.

Not responding is responding.

Giving a respondent the cold shoulder signals that you don’t care enough to respond. At this point, they may take their grievance public and potentially damage your organization. A quick response only takes a minute and could save you significant trouble in the future.

What about anonymous feedback?

Before the release of Incogneato, replying to anonymous feedback was difficult, if not impossible. Incogneato solved that problem by allowing organizations to anonymously communicate with those who leave feedback. Acting as an intermediary, Incogneato relays messages back and forth, allowing the respondent to remain anonymous.

Improve your organization with Incogneato. Start your free trial now. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.

See more:

How Can Your Organization Benefit from Anonymous Crowdsourcing?

Posted May 6th, 2018

A paramount feature of Incogneato’s Premier Plan is a powerful anonymous crowdsourcing forum. This feature enables the ability to selectively add suggestions already received via an Incogneato anonymous suggestion box to a publicly available site for anonymous voting and discussion. Here are just a few practical uses by field:

Does Crowdsourcing Really Improve Ideas?

Recent studies from both the Harvard Business Review and MIT’s Sloan Review suggest that crowdsourcing ideas is an effective and necessary exercise for companies interested in improving both their operations and knowledge base.

Findings from a study released last year by MIT’s Sloan Review were among the most promising. The researchers spent four years at three large organizations, one each from the telecommunications, healthcare, and retail fields, studying the implementation, reception and results of crowdsourcing initiatives. Their findings were unequivocal: “Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, we have found that harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation. Internal crowdsourcing is a particularly effective way for companies to engage younger employees and people working on the front lines.”

This study suggests that crowdsourcing taps into existing company resources by leveraging the innovative power already present in employees. Sometimes all it takes is bringing people together to collaborate and share knowledge.

An article by Henry Chesbrough in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) also suggests that companies willing to crowdsource beyond the confines of their own organization may stand to reap enormous rewards, even if that means sharing proprietary information. “Companies must become nimble at “open innovation”—at accessing and exploiting outside knowledge,” writes Chesbrough, “while liberating their own internal expertise for others’ use.”

Whether companies are providing internal crowdsourcing tools to gather suggestions from employees, or expanding beyond the bounds of their organization to source solutions from external groups, they’re acquiring new knowledge, ideas, or resources at a very small cost.

Why Does It Have to Be Anonymous?

When not anonymous, employees tailor their feedback to avoid irritating or challenging their superiors, which guarantees that potentially difficult or groundbreaking discussions end up watered down or withheld altogether. Other groups, like customers, students and coworkers, may also hesitate to engage in a candid discussion when they feel their words can alter or jeopardize a relationship.

This desire for anonymity is well-documented in research on employee feedback. In an article on conducting employee surveys, HBR noted that when asked to submit feedback, anonymity is the number one concern for employees.  When employees are certain that their feedback will remain anonymous, they are not only more likely to submit honest, productive feedback, they are likely to submit it more often. This type of environment is vital for the successful implementation of a crowdsourcing initiative. Candid, secure employees are far more likely to provide innovative insights than those worried about the consequences of alienating leadership.

Anonymous Crowdsourcing with Incogneato

Incogneato’s Premier Plan offers company managers the opportunity to crowdsource ideas and feedback from employees in an open and anonymous setting. It does this by expanding upon Incogneato’s core functionality by letting managers selectively add suggestions they receive to a public voting and discussion box. The box can be both password-protected and restricted by IP address to limit access.

Incogneato can help to validate employee contributions while providing the company with tangible suggestions for improving workplace culture and adjusting operations—it has the potential to bring forth truly innovative ideas from a company’s workforce.

Give your organization the powerful benefit of honest employee feedback. Start your free trial now. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.


See more:

How Anonymous Feedback Creates a Better Work Environment

Posted March 15th, 2018

Attracting and maintaining a talented workforce is a perennial problem for employers and one that has become especially frustrating in the past several years. Conventional incentives like competitive salaries, robust benefits packages, and spacious offices are still useful tools, but they are no longer enough for today’s office population.

Recent studies by hiring industry leaders like have shown that less tangible factors, like company culture and workplace values, are vital to employee satisfaction. Corporate employees spend more time per week with their co-workers than they do with their own families, and they crave an enjoyable and nurturing environment.

But what practical steps can an employer take to improve something as difficult to define as company culture? A company’s greatest source of ideas for improvement can be its employees, but soliciting these ideas can be a challenging process. Implementing tools for anonymous feedback is a fantastic way to open lines of communication with employees, and can be a huge first step for a company seeking to make changes to their workplace culture.

Why anonymous feedback?

Many company leaders feel that they can meet the needs of their employees by simply asking them what they can do better. While this might cultivate an appreciation for the leader, it is ineffective when attempting to change or create an employee-driven work culture. Why? Despite the best efforts of the leader, employees will tailor their feedback to avoid irritating or challenging him or her, which guarantees that potentially difficult or groundbreaking suggestions end up watered down or withheld altogether.

But while an employee may be ambivalent about giving their opinion directly to a manager or an HR representative, that does not mean that they do not want their opinion to be heard. This Forbes round-up of studies on employee engagement suggests that finding ways for employees to thoughtfully express themselves can have across-the-board benefits for a company, including improved employee retention and increased discretionary effort on the part of employees.

So while employees are hesitant to express themselves to leadership, the ability to express themselves is a vital component of employee satisfaction. Anonymous feedback tools provide a solution to this dilemma. A recent article from Wharton Business School explores why anonymous feedback is such an effective tool for improving company culture – it empowers conscientious employees to bring their full capabilities to bear on improving the company, without fear of reprisal.

In an article on conducting employee surveys, Harvard Business Review (HBR) specifically outlined that when asked to submit feedback, anonymity is the number one concern for employees. When employees are certain that their feedback will remain anonymous, they are not only more likely to submit honest, productive feedback, they are likely to submit it more often. This is the type of positive communication cycle that can quickly help employers take an employee-driven approach to improving workplace culture.

Implementing Employee Feedback

When implementing an employee feedback program, employees want to know that their voice has been heard. This does not mean that every piece of feedback submitted has to end with reform, but employees need to know their concerns are at least under consideration.

A publication by the Society for Organizational and Industrial Psychology explains that the role of HR managers is vital in this process. The HR manager’s role has shifted over the past few decades from a position that is concerned only with the needs of individual personnel, to a position that is concerned with a company’s well-being as a whole. A large part of this role is analyzing, implementing and leading changes that affect the company’s culture. For many companies, this is the position that will be responsible for generating and responding to employee feedback.

The importance of Human Resources’ role in facilitating a comfortable and engaging workplace culture was discussed in a study published in the International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues. This study showed that HR has to maintain a state of constant evolution in its relationships with employees. When HR creates changes based on the feedback that has been provided through open dialogue with employees, the employees, in turn, feel a stronger relationship with the company and are more likely to continue their position with the company long term. Anonymous feedback tools are a great method for facilitating that type of communication.

Create Open Communication with Incogneato

Incogneato is an online tool that allows for open, anonymous communication between employees and company representatives, particularly the HR department. Incogneato not only allows employees to provide their opinions, but it allows for real-time chatting with company representatives, which evolves the feedback process from a tedious back-and-forth to a constructive conversation.

Because Incogneato opens anonymous, real-time communication avenues between employers and employees, it validates the employee’s contribution while providing the company with tangible suggestions for improving workplace culture. As illustrated above, the benefits to this mode of communication are plentiful, and its implementation is exceedingly simple. Incogneato offers a chance to improve communication and culture at companies of every size.

Give your company the powerful benefit of honest employee feedback. Start your free trial now. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.

See more:

5 Reasons to Choose Incogneato for Your Anonymous Feedback

Posted March 9th, 2018

Collect Anonymous Feedback with Incogneato

There are many anonymous suggestion box solutions out there with varied features and philosophies. Incogneato includes many of the features offered by enterprise-level solutions at a fraction of the cost. Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato:

1: Lowest price
It’s amazing what some charge for an anonymous suggestion box. We work with organizations of all size, so we have to keep our prices within reach of everyone. That’s why plans start at just $19 per month.

2: We’re a trusted third party.
When collecting anonymous feedback, it’s important for your respondents to feel comfortable. Collecting anonymous feedback on your own server can make employees feel exposed and vulnerable. Even with the best intentions, you may inadvertently store log files that could later identify your respondents. Unless they choose to identify themselves, Incogneato keeps your respondents anonymous.

3: We’re the only one with anonymous chat.
One of Incogneato’s key features is the ability to hold an anonymous conversation. Often times that initial anonymous suggestion leads to more questions that would otherwise go unanswered. Anonymous chat lets you immediately ask a follow up question or for clarification.

4: We let you customize your box to fit your organization.
It’s important for your employees to recognize your brand when leaving feedback. That’s why we include lots of ways to customize your box including a your logo, a custom URL, and an introduction paragraph.

5: We take anonymity seriously.
While other suggestion boxes offer the option to stay anonymous, Incogneato is always anonymous because we believe strongly that anonymity breeds honesty. And there’s research to back it up. The Harvard Business Review found that respondents are much more likely participate in a survey if their anonymity is guaranteed.

We also take privacy and security seriously. In addition to using 256-bit SSL encryption for all communication, we also do not retain any personal identifying information of the person leaving a suggestion, other than an encrypted email address (if they choose to include one).

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.

See more:

Continue the Conversation with Anonymous Chat

Posted March 1st, 2018

So you’ve setup your suggestion box and are starting to receive some great feedback. While much of it is helpful, some suggestions are vague and need more clarification. That’s where Incogneato shines. All Incogneato plans come with a unique message relay system that lets you anonymously chat with your respondents, either via email or in real-time.

Here’s how it works:

1) When leaving a suggestion, your respondent has the option of including their email address. We encrypt it and never share it with you.

2) If your respondent included an email address, you’ll see a reply arrow beside the suggestion in your dashboard. Simply click the arrow to reply.

3) When you reply, your respondent will receive an email with your reply text and a link to continue the conversation.

4) If you’re logged in to your dashboard, you’ll hear a notification chime when someone replies so you can continue the conversation live in real-time.

If you haven’t already, test out this unique feature by creating a free trial account. It’s free for 30 days and no credit card is required. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.

See more:

Can Incogneato Help Retain Your Employees?

Posted February 22nd, 2018

Improve Employee Retention with Incogneato

Employees are expensive to recruit and often more expensive to retain. Many organizations find it more efficient to retain their best employees than recruit and train a replacement. According to SHRM, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129. One study found the cost of re-hiring a midrange position ($30-$50K per year) to be 20% of the employee’s future salary.

Employees leave for a variety of reasons. Among the most common are:

Engaged employees are more connected

Communicating with your employees is the first step in retaining them. According to Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” report, engaged employees make strong contributions and are more connected to their organization. While some may candidly share their views during a face-to-face conversation, we believe that anonymity is better for sensitive issues. This is especially true if the employee fears retaliation or being ostracized. For example, an organization with a strong hierarchical power structure might be less open to feedback from those at the bottom. Even a flat organization may have employees who would rather remain isolated than share their ideas face-to-face.

Employees experiencing personal issues

While there may be little you can do to retain an employee experiencing personal issues, employees can also use an anonymous feedback tool to disclose workplace issues or tell you why they are dissatisfied in general. Plus, giving your employees a real outlet to improve their work life can make all the difference for those experiencing difficulties at home. Even if change is not possible at the moment, you can use Incogneato’s anonymous communication feature to explain your position or discuss alternatives.

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. Not convinced yet? Here are five reasons to choose Incogneato for your anonymous feedback.

See more:

How anonymous feedback could help bring peace to Westeros

Posted August 27th, 2017

tl;dr – The lands of Westeros in the HBO series Game of Thrones would be more peaceful were the main characters to seek anonymous feedback and use it in their dealings within the realm.

—-====== SPOILER WARNING ======—-

You probably shouldn’t read much further in the post if you are not caught up on HBO’s Game of Thrones series or the Song of Ice and Fire book series. You also probably know how this works by now.

—-====== SPOILER WARNING ======—-

Now that we have either only the true fans or those that don’t care here with us, let’s discuss a few ways that an anonymous feedback tool like, Incogneato could help all of the Queens, Kings, Lords, and frankly the entire populace of the realms of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga.

Instead of relying on fear and the whispers of her “little birds’ Queen Cersei could simply provide a way or her subjects to tell her what she is doing well and not so well (ahem stockpiling wildfire)—all without fear of beheadings. Maybe Jamie could use it too, to let Cersei know that his twin is being a huge b****.

Maybe others would have told Daenerys that Tyrion’s war plans needed iteration or that or that burning the Tarley’s might not be the best way to diminish the comparisons with her and her crazy father, the “Mad King”. Or maybe people could just comment anonymously on her new braid-game without fear of dragon fire (or being called a suck up, those braids are pretty sick!).

Jon Snow could have used some feedback during his brief time as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch to really get a sense of if his brothers were going to stab him repeatedly.

Had Arya and Sansa had access to an Incogneato Anonymous Feedback box, maybe they would set aside their silly squabbles and hug for pete’s sake! Not even Littlefinger could sneak his way past the 2048-bit encryption that protects respondents’ privacy. Though maybe they wouldn’t need a feedback tool if they would just talk to their omniscient brother Bran, already!

If you’d like to know the honest truth about something why not give Incogneato a try? It’s free for 14 days and you can cancel at any time—no long contracts.

See more:

How the so-called “Google Manifesto” Underscores the Need for Anonymous Feedback Channels

Posted August 11th, 2017

This past weekend’s release of a Google employee’s now-infamous “Google Manifesto” has received quite a bit attention of worldwide, and subsequently led to the firing of it’s author, James Damore. The document has sparked a torrent of debate over workplace culture, tolerance, and dissent.

The fact that it is so controversial (even within Google) demonstrates that there is a very real divide within many organizations. Intuitively, one would assume that most do not support anti-diversity views. The events of this week, however, show otherwise and strongly underscore the need for internal, anonymous feedback channels. Had James Damore been provided a tool to anonymously disclose and discuss his opinions with Google’s management, he may have never felt the need to pen his manifesto and Google wouldn’t have felt the need to terminate his employment. As research shows, suppressing emotions at work can lead to aggressive behavior.

Anonymous feedback solutions, such as Incogneato, allow organizations to anonymously gauge internal opinion on any topic—and not just topics that could publicly embarrass a company. Maybe a whole team is about to call it quits over a toxic manager. Maybe that recently-launched product contains bugs or issues that employees are afraid to speak about. Maybe a manager has done something illegal. The list of “what-ifs” can go on and on.

Sure, every company likes to think it’s employees are comfortable enough to share their views out in the open. Open door policies and listening tours are commonplace in many organizations. Those may work fine for some employees, but there will always be others who, for a variety of reasons, prefer to remain anonymous.

See more: