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My department’s HR people have started running an employee engagement survey, and they expect everyone to participate. This is the first one they’ve administered since I started last year. Although it doesn’t ask for my name or email address, it asks me to identify my group of teams and say how long I’ve worked there. Based on those two questions alone, they could probably trace my response to me.

I really love the job and believe that the department's management is doing a great job. I also feel a significant sense of calling to that kind of work, this organization, and the projects that I work on. I feel like I could work there for a very long time, as many of my colleagues there have.

But I had to take a significant pay cut to work there. My pay is barely enough for a tight budget now, and it may force my spouse or me to get a second job if we have kids. Some of the job's most important benefits also fall short of my previous job's.

Only one question on the survey discusses pay, and only a few discuss benefits. I don’t know how I can honestly “Strongly Agree” that the pay is good - or even enough. I feel like putting “Neutral”, all things considered (they’re a large nonprofit, they’re paying me “what they can” in light of that, etc.). I’m concerned that if everyone says the pay is great, we’ll never get the raises we need and we’ll have difficulty recruiting and retaining staff.

Fortunately, there are about 100 other questions where I can speak glowingly - and totally honestly - about the organization and department. There are also written questions where I can give additional feedback about anything.

Should I participate this first time or wait until I’ve seen how this plays out? If I do participate, how should I approach the topics of pay and benefits?

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    I would put "Strongly disagree" in that field. Probably, most others will too. If you put "Neutral", the others will get raises, but you won't. Of course, this is just me speculating. I've never actually worked for a non-profit. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 30 '20 at 2:22
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    The survey is worthless if employees do not tell the truth. Just keep your feedback matter of fact so you can back it up with proof and examples. Now, if you tell the truth and face retalitory action because of it, then you're better off working elsewhere anyway. – fubar Jan 30 '20 at 2:44
  • What a constructive comment @JoeStrazzere – DakkVader Jan 30 '20 at 8:00
  • Can't you just skip those identifying questions which could potentially be tracked back to you? Just skip them and give honest answers to the rest of the survey. – Igor G Jan 30 '20 at 11:40
  • @IgorG I suspect if the non-profit is large and has a lot of programs and groups that there is some pay discrepancies across the groups. If you don't list what groups you're in but mark low on salary, they may disregard it. – mkennedy Jan 30 '20 at 20:38
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It is a survey, they ask about the pay, it is your right to answer honestly. As mentioned in some comments, have some "proof" to support your opinion on the matter (example: for the same role, in other companies, pay is higher). All in all, you very much are in a Prisoner's dilemma situation

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Firstly, the fact that your company does these types of surveys is great, they seem to be tying to better themselves using the results of it, which is their purpose. Its not in your interest to not be truthful on it and not in the companies interest for you to do so either. The best thing you can do on these surveys is be honest. The fact that it asks you to single out departments and start time is likely to help with their analysis of the results. Chances are you're not alone in your feelings towards salary.

If they attempt to single you out from an anonymous survey and bring it up with you then this makes the survey invalid and distorts results, not to mention makes mass unease in the company. If thats the case you have to ask yourself is this somewhere you actually want to work? I'd be looking else where. But im fairly sure it would be illegal to fire you for voicing an opinion on salary. Im sure it wont get to this.

Secondly, I can see your hesitation to mark them down on pay given you have just started there. After all, you made that choice to take the pay cut, and work there.

If you don't agree that pay is good, then say so. This highlights to the company that they're under paying staff and its in their best interest to know that this is a potential issue if enough people raise it. The last thing a company wants is a reputation for underpaying its employees.

Be honest, feedback and if you get the chance to expand and justify your answer then do so.

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  • In my company the survey was done by a separate company and I dont think my employers got to see the raw results. So this might (even with the questions that may identify you) still guarantee anonimity. – user180146 Jan 30 '20 at 13:23
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it asks me to identify my group of teams and say how long I’ve worked there

Answer this not at all or with not too much details such as "more than 10 years" instead of an exact time. Give a wider description of your working area that doesn't narrow down the exact team, for example "production worker" or "office job" if that is a good fit for your company. (only you know the job structures and can chose a suitable option)

I feel like I could work there for a very long time, as many of my colleagues there have.

I bet this survey is not launched by bosses to be told "you are so great and should not change the smallest thing". It is employees' chance to tell their honest opinion. Take this chance!
If you like to work at this company but wouldn't mind to get more money then you should mention exactly this. There should be an option to express that without being rude or unfair.

As a final remark, imagine you are the boss and get the survey results. Would you expect only one of them would reject more money? Wouldn't you put more value into answers that appear really honest?

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  • There is a way to list an "Other" team. But my group of teams, which narrows down to 15-20 people, is specifically an option. – capybara Jan 31 '20 at 11:44

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