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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Friday, October 15, 2010

Survey Data and Maintaining Confidentiality

Surveys are powerful tools that can assess the opinions of employees (if done properly). When surveying personnel, it is crucial to emphasize confidentiality to ensure that the answers received are honest and people do censor themselves. Demographics should be asked on an entirely different page to reduce the chances of matching the answers to an employee (although this is difficult if the survey is completed online).

However, the issue arises when a client wants to see the data. It is important that HR professionals and consultants do not provide raw data. All data should be aggregated together to ensure no survey can be matched to an employee. Clients may be insistent on seeing the raw data but it is vital for the survey administrator to stand his/her ground to protect the employees. In addition, only select individuals should have access to the raw data to reduce the probability of exposing information.

It becomes more complex if a survey includes any open-ended questions as these are not easily aggregated. Instead, these questions should be scanned for common messages and then the frequencies should be presented. Direct quotes should be avoided (if possible) as one's writing/speaking style risk be identifiable by the client.

As a survey administrator, our participants must feel comfortable that their comments will not be fed individually but as a mass. Otherwise these employees risk retaliation.

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