Who Said That? What Anonymous, Unsolicited Feedback Means for Your Organization

Anonymous employee feedback - like the kind you find on external websites or apps - is pervasive across the internet, and you can bet that both current and prospective employees are checking it out. So what does it mean to the modern organization?

First, it's important to note that unsolicited feedback - even when negative - can benefit an organization if approached well. Just as with your employee survey, there are learning opportunities. Here are some guidelines for dealing with anonymous, unsolicited, and public feedback:

It's one piece of a larger puzzle. The feedback on this site - shared anonymously and proactively - is self-selective; it comes from people who were motivated to actively post about their experiences. By its very nature, this limited pool of feedback will be skewed in some sense, and is most often negative because it usually takes a strong emotional reaction to get someone to take the time to post to a website. That doesn't mean you should disregard it - you can learn from all types of feedback - but don't panic if the feedback seems extreme.

Look broadly for themes. Rather than investigating each comment or post about your company, look for themes of what employees bring up. Are candidates routinely disappointed with salary offers? Do employees regularly bring up a lack of work life balance? If many employees are saying similar things, it may indicate a genuine issue that should be addressed.

Focus on hot button issues. Study any serious complaints, such as harassment, favoritism, bullying, or safety issues, in greater depth. It's worth trying to figure out where these comments are coming from and when the incident occurred, in order to investigate the event described.

Match up to what you already know. Gather your themes and match them up to other data you have. You may find common threads when you compare to findings of your employee survey, exit interviews, and other employee sensing mechanisms. You may also find new issues that can then be incorporated into your measurements in order to get a full picture of the issue.

Ultimately, there will still be a question of whether the data is true and representative. In these unsolicited venues, the data is certainly not representative of your full organization; it only represents people who know of these venues for proactive feedback and feel compelled to engage in this way. Truth of specific details in these posts can be harder to address, but in the end, shouldn't change how you look at the broad findings.

These venues provide a valuable insiders look at how people talk about your organization - to each other, to the market, and to potential employees. Rather than question who said what and whether it's true, take the opportunity to learn from the feedback, and use it to optimize your active employee sensing mechanisms.

OrgVitality is a leading organizational effectiveness company, specializing in strategic employee surveys, performance management review systems, intelligent action planning dashboards, comment analysis, executive coaching, and more. We can help you understand, interpret, and act upon all types of employee feedback. Contact Victoria Hendrickson for more information, follow her on twitter, or subscribe to her blog.