Short, frequent, and anonymous online surveys (as opposed to a long annual survey) give supervisors a better understanding of team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers’ experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue. At AT&T, executives don’t distribute survey scores to line supervisors or their bosses; instead, they show only trends and verbatim feedback. This signals that discussing and addressing the root causes of issues — and seeing steady progress — matter more than any absolute score. via blogs.hbr.org
Why not ask your employees, in-person, face-to-face?
Oh wait, another question.
While it's clear your employees are not engaging with their managers, for lack of trust probably, do you think your employees are not engaging with each other?
That leads to a third question.
How will your manager use verbatim feedback if that verbatim feedback was shared on a confidential basis? That will require that manager to then create a convoluted reference to said verbatim feedback so that the identity of the fool who shared it, confidentially, will remain a secret. They will know who shared it anyway.
The purpose of this anonymous survey seems to address inadequacies, insecurities among managers and executives with regards to interacting with their employees. It's an easy out. Listening to employees is the icky factor of employee engagement. It's all so organic and unscripted.
That ickiness at the though of listening to employees grows as the virtues of compassion and empathy, the skills of listening and understanding and finding common ground among passionate people with different viewpoints are diminished in favor of reading reports and hiding survey scores from Managers, as if Managers are not adult enough to handle survey scores.
Anonymous surveys are used where a lack of trust exists, where no leadership exists to re-instill trust. The use of anonymous surveys is not a sign of engagement. It is not a tool to build trust. See anonymous comments on the web. They're popular with trolls.
Another question: Why are you 'surveying' employees?
See? That's so odd. You work with people all day long, see them in the hallway and out in the parking lot, day after day. But to know their real opinions you need an anonymous survey ... What?
Why not ... ask them, person to person, face to face?
Ask them and, more importantly, LISTEN
Then, act on what you hear.
And if you're not ready to take that step, it's ok. But you're not ready to engage with your employees. Wait until you can talk and listen with them, hear their opinions, and they trust you enough to share them with you.
To do that take a few small steps:
That will expand quickly, the first time, to include "how are you?" Over time, they will tell you. In their words. That's verbatim feedback with a heaping dose of honesty.
That will require you to recognize them and their work. 'Say' means you have to ... well, say it. To that person. Now you're engaging with them in ways that matter to them.
See? No filtered survey required.
4. Be Sure to Show How Their Achievements Affect Everyone
If you want to know more ways to engage with your employees as opposed to anonymous surveys, I have a book that offers 52 ways to recognize your employees, easy exercises to reinforce those habits and skills and inspirational quotes to keep you going. It is called: RECOGNIZE THEM: 52 Ways to Recognize Your Employees in Ways They Value.*