I just filled out a so-called confidential survey for my employer. It’s really not confidential. Aside from some details about me that could be gleaned from my comments, the survey asked for my location, gender, ethnicity, years at my employer, total years of experience in the profession, and for my specific department. Well, if that doesn’t triangulate exactly who I am, I don’t know what will. Even if it narrows things down to one or two individuals, I’m still in trouble if I don’t parrot the party line and say things a potentially vindictive superior doesn’t want to hear.
I’m not surprised. I’m not shrieking about the loss of the right of free speech: that ship sailed long, long ago. My point is that, nowadays, these surveys seem to be less about informing the higher-ups of what’s good and what’s not so good and more about giving them dictatorial-like approval ratings from employees that are too scared about their futures to come forward with anything other than “very satisfied” evaluations for their bosses and work environment.
Allow me to supply the Devil’s Dictionary definition of “confidential survey”: a measure of what percentage of one’s employees are living in fear.