It's that time of year again at my employer... now that we've stuffed ourselves with turkey and enjoyed a 3 day work week, invitations to an "anonymous" employee survey have gone out. For whatever it matters, it's through some external company that we're presumably paying for the privilege.

Related to this old question asking about the possible downsides of honestly answering an "anonymous" employee survey, I'm wondering about what possible upsides there are to me, as an employee, for actually completing this thing... mostly because I can't think of any. My instinct and operating assumption has always been that there isn't any upside, and to avoid filling these surveys out, or just lie and say what they want to hear if I'm unable to avoid doing it.

I'm extremely secure in my position at my present employer, and have no fear or concern about the obvious downsides of honestly completing this survey, so I'm trying to figure out if there's any possible upside to me to completing this thing (either honestly or dishonestly), or if my instincts are right, and it's a complete waste of time for me, at best.

In response to the comments, the text of the email that was sent out inviting us all inviting us to take the survey (which was the only communications on the matter) is below.

[3rd party company contracted to perform survey] Survey
[Employer company name] asked us to collect your honest thoughts about your workplace.
Could you take five minutes to answer this confidential survey? 
    Begin Survey     
We were hoping you could finish by Friday, December 7th. 

Any questions or concerns? Just reply and we’ll be happy to help! 
[3rd party company contracted to perform survey].
  • 2
    Has the company really not given any reason as to why the survey is going out? Even something generic like "we want to know what you think so we can improve things for all of us"?
    – user34587
    Nov 27, 2018 at 16:22
  • 1
    This question is hard to answer because all we can do is give "theoretical" responses, not concrete answers based on any specific employer. It's also unfortunate that answers to "should I trust my employer's motives?" will likely get mixed in with answers on what those motives may actually be.
    – dwizum
    Nov 27, 2018 at 16:54
  • 1
    These kinds of surveys are rarely truly anonymous. Trust me. Someone has administrative access and can see who sent in each answer. I would not respond to any of these.
    – user91988
    Nov 27, 2018 at 16:54
  • 3
    @only_pro Why so negative? Is it so inconceivable that there might be employers out there who actually want to improve the working conditions of their employees? Not all companies perceive their staff as the enemy. Sure, there might be some companies which would use such surveys against people, but you shouldn't assume that they all act in bad faith.
    – Philipp
    Nov 27, 2018 at 16:59
  • 2
    If that email you just edited in was, literally, the ONLY communication you've received with respect to this survey, my first step would be to validate that it's real and was actually sent on behalf of your employer (versus being a phishing attempt).
    – dwizum
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


Are there things that you would like to see changed? Do other employees feel the same? If multiple(many) employees report the same concerns, they are more likely to be addressed. You may have already spoken to your management about these issues, but individual feedback doesn't carry the weight the consistent feedback across a survey population would.

It comes down to trust, do you trust that your management chain/company leadership are committed to making improvements and not using the data against you? On the other hand, if you don't trust them, I'm wondering why you still work there. I would not work for a company or manager that I don't trust.


Possible downsides to not participating include

1) If it is measuring 'engagement' then low participation will be almost as bad as negative answers. If you work in a satellite office and they're trying to decide which one to close, you don't want to be the one with the worst participation.

2) You empower vocal minorities. Sometimes these things do drive small policies. If there's a choice between flex time and strawberry ice cream in the cafeteria and only people who ride transit and have to arrive at set times answer....

3) Real example of lying on/ignoring these things blowing up in your face: company asked satellite office employees "Would you be willing to relocate to HQ for a competitive package?" Everyone says "yes" cause they want to sound positive and look like team players, in reality nobody actually has any interest in moving across the country for any price. HQ says "Awesome, let's close that overpriced out of the way office." (Who knows, maybe they would have closed it anyway, but I have seen that scenario play out in person more than once.)

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