21 May 2024

Case study: Does anonymous feedback work?

Today, anonymous employee feedback is a widely practiced method to foster transparency and bridge the gap between employees and management. However one cannot help but ask, does anonymity really foster trust and transparency? Or do these surveys merely serve as a platform for venting frustrations?

In this article we are going to look at some commonly raised doubts about efficacy of anonymous feedback and dive into a case study of the infamous Googlegeist.

Anonymous Employee Survey

Problems with anonymous surveys

Struggling to address the issues. Without knowing the source of feedback, it can be challenging for employers to follow up on specific issues or provide targeted support to individual team members. This lack of context may hinder the effectiveness of addressing concerns raised in anonymous feedback, leading to frustration and perceived ineffectiveness.

Misunderstanding the results. Without visibility into the demographics of respondents, there may be concerns about the potential bias or manipulation in anonymous feedback. For example, certain groups within the team may be more likely to participate in anonymous surveys, leading to skewed results that do not accurately reflect the sentiments of the entire team.

Will you really care? There may be a perception among some team members that anonymous feedback lacks authenticity or sincerity, as individuals may feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions when their identity is known. This perception could lead to scepticism about the value of anonymous feedback and its ability to drive meaningful change within teams.

Google Case Study: Googlegeist

Google, a global technology giant known for its innovative culture and employee-centric approach, has been at the forefront of leveraging employee feedback to drive organisational excellence. One of the key tools Google utilises to gather employee input is its anonymous employee survey known as “Googlegeist“.


The Results:

Enhanced Employee Engagement: Google’s annual Googlegeist surveys consistently yield high levels of employee engagement. Despite an estimated completion time of 30 minutes, the survey boosts an exceptionally high response rate of 88% or higher. This is a direct result of employees recognising that the feedback gathered in this survey is actually being implemented.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Google’s leadership team analyses the anonymised survey data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement across the organisation. For instance, insights from the Googlegeist survey led to the implementation of initiatives such as enhanced diversity and inclusion programs, expanded employee benefits, and improved communication channels. Helping the company gain recognition for these important initiatives externally too.

Positive Impact on Company Culture: By providing employees with a platform to voice their opinions anonymously, Google has fostered a culture of transparency, trust, and collaboration. Employees feel empowered to share feedback openly, knowing that their anonymity is protected, which contributes to a sense of psychological safety within the workplace.

Key Takeaways:

  • Honest and constructive feedback from anonymous surveys enables organisations to make data-driven decisions and drive continuous improvement.
  • Prioritising employee feedback fosters a culture of openness and collaboration, leading to higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • By protecting employee anonymity, organisations can create a safe space for employees to share their opinions openly, ultimately contributing to a positive work environment and organisational success.

💬 Advice for employers and managers

Communicate the Purpose: Clearly communicate the purpose and objectives of the anonymous surveys to employees. Emphasise that the goal is not to assign blame but rather to gather feedback to improve the work environment for everyone.

Ensure Anonymity: Take measures to ensure the anonymity of survey respondents. Choose a survey platform, like Zelt, that anonymises responses and protects employee privacy. Assure employees that their responses will not be traced back to them individually.

Act on Feedback: Demonstrate a commitment to action by following up on survey results. Share key findings with employees and outline the steps being taken to address any issues identified. Transparency in the follow-up process reinforces trust and encourages future participation.

Iterate and Improve: Use feedback from anonymous surveys to refine survey questions, topics, and frequency over time. Solicit input from employees on how surveys can be more effective and meaningful, ensuring that the process evolves to meet the changing needs of the organisation.

Download Googlegeist Survey Template

Asking the right questions is paramount in driving insightful results. Download our free anonymous employee survey template now to kickstart your journey towards more effective talent development.