How Do Confidentiality Concerns Affect Survey Participation?

Before a survey becomes part of the culture, there are often issues of mistrust. Once it is part of the culture, these issues are greatly reduced. Management has proven that no individuals have been singled out because of certain survey answers and that the survey is designed to identify organization-wide and/or customer base issues. A much higher level of trust is often seen after only one survey.

Still, prior to the first survey, communicating several facts in advance of deployment are important. For instance, it should be communicated that management sincerely wants this feedback, that identification of organization-wide issues is the goal (and not targeting of individuals), that this is a multi-year process and not a single event, and that only the consulting firm will see individual answers and produce the results (rather than any individuals in-house). We also recommend that data be cut to no fewer than 30 entities (employees or customers) to protect the anonymity of the respondents. The ‘no less than 30’ general rule also protects the statistical validity of the results.

Regardless of what steps may be taken to maximize participation on the first employee and/or customer survey an organization conducts, participation is still typically lower than with later surveys. Additionally, higher participation rates are achieved on initial surveys and future surveys, regardless of deployment methodology, when advance communications are provided to the intended respondents.