Transparency at Work

The benefits of collecting anonymous data

Sam Stewart-Keene04 of March, 2019

7 min

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You want to get peoples opinions/feedback, otherwise you wouldn't have created a questionnaire, survey, or quiz. But you aren’t sure their answers will be honest and sincere. The reasons, circumstances, or situations that may cause your audience to be hesitant to share their honest opinions are numerous. Unless you can assure your audience that the feedback they give is completely anonymous; your response rates will drop and the data received will be affected by external factors.

But why would voters modify their answers or abstain altogether?

One of the most common times voters change their answers is when giving feedback in the workplace. If an employee is asked for feedback, in a situation similar to this template:

The voter may fear ramifications from superiors or may not want to hurt a colleagues feelings, and so they will abstain from the quiz, or enter something that will protect themselves and others around them. Consider meeting with your boss and saying “I don’t trust my manager and am not planning on being here very long because of it”. This is almost unthinkable for most of us, however if there was a way to give this anonymously, then people would feel safe giving this honest opinion, the data becomes valuable and actionable because of the anonymity.

Another common reason for voters to give embellished answers is when a question could be perceived as sensitive. Questions about money, property, or activities that are legally questionable can cause respondents to downright lie on occasion to protect their reputation/s or protect themselves from repercussions. Yet another example where real anonymity would massively improve response rates and make the data more “Trustworthy”.

Another common issue for researchers and presenters is an audience giving answers that will “Help” the outcome. If the audience believe that there is a desired outcome, voters can even unwittingly give a different answer than what they would have done, so that their name will be associated with it. This is a classic example of biased answering. A very similar issue to this is people not wanting to seem “Insensitive”, for example when discussing religion or politics. If their name is along with their answer, this could cause their reputation/s to be damaged. If an anonymous tool such as Mentimeter is used then there is no chance of this, and participants feel comfortable giving their honest opinions as they feel safe.

The key benefits of collecting data anonymously:

Better Response Rates - If the audience feels that their identities are protected then a considerable amount more will answer, meaning more data.

Participants feel safe - It is no surprise that when people feel anonymous, they feel safe psychologically, this leads to honest answers.

Increased accuracy in data - When the chance of ramifications doesn’t exist voters feel able to give their honest and unbiased opinions, which leads to:

More actionable data - When the data is honest and unbiased, it means you can trust it more and therefore take actions on that data with more confidence in positive outcomes.

Trust - Asking for people’s opinions using an anonymous tool like Mentimeter established a trust that you want to hear the audience honest answers, and that they do not need to worry about anything coming back on them.

The last point, as well as the others, mean that you really have to use an anonymous tool, that way there is no way for the anonymity to be lost at a later date, using Mentimeter is perfect for this as voting is anonymous, we don't set any Voting IDs on the voters or require them to log in. Meaning the answers will be more honest and a higher response rate can be expected.

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Posted by Sam Stewart-Keene04 of March, 2019
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