The Psychological Safety Issue Hidden in Your Employee Survey Data

GPTW UK

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GPTW UK

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Every person deserves the freedom to show up as their true self. And when employees bury their identities, it speaks volumes about the level of psychological safety in your workplace. 

 

When people choose not to reveal parts of their identity, they’re telling you a lot. At Great Place to Work® UK, we believe no employee – whether within or outside the LGBTQ+ community – should have to disguise themselves to “fit in” at work.

On the surface, it may look like your workplace has created a positive employee experience for all. But without surveying your people, how will you know if this is true?

One of the things that businesses value about our employee survey is that it uncovers the “masked” workplace experiences for different employee groups within their organisation. Part of this process involves asking several questions about employees’ personal characteristics to enable companies to identify disparities in the workplace experience based on various demographics.

 

Identifying these disparities is the first step in correcting them and creating a better, more equal experience for all employees. Some of these can be sensitive questions – like enquiring about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – so our survey gives people the option to decline to respond if they wish. You might expect only a small percentage of employees choose this ‘prefer not to respond’ option, but it turns out that one in eight employees actively declines to reveal one or more aspects of their identity.

 

Why employees choose “prefer not to answer”

So, what’s happening here? Why are over 12% of employees declining to share information about themselves? To get to the bottom of this issue, we reviewed written comments from employees who declined to respond to one or more of these survey questions. Their comments often provided some clarity, or at least clues, around why these employees don’t want to reveal their whole selves.

Common themes from these employees’ experiences include:

  •   A climate of favouritism
  •   Toxic work relationships
  •   Passive aggressiveness
  •   A lack of trust to speak up
  •   Fear of retaliation

 

Harassment may not define the kind of workplace environment those themes describe. But it’s easy to see them as “harassment adjacent” — rife with microaggressions and fear.

 

Blog Infographics_full selves full strength

 

What these (non-)responses say about your company culture

When people choose not to reveal parts of their identity, they’re actually telling you a lot about how they feel at work. One employee who left part of their identity hidden writes, “How can you trust a system/business that rewards its malicious employees…? It’s quite discouraging for those who are aware of the offense.”

Another comments: “I don’t have full trust in our HR department. I would not share confidential information with them because I do not feel it would stay confidential.”

There are clear ties between consistently inclusive workplace cultures and overall employee experience and engagement. If employees decline to reveal their full selves in surveys, it suggests your workplace may not be a psychologically safe environment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. As more people choose not to respond, trust and innovation suffer.

As the percentage of employees choosing ‘prefer not to respond’ grows, there are drops in:

  •   Employees’ faith in management
  •   Their sense of safety in the work environment
  •   Signs of teamwork

 

These are all critical to effective innovation and strong business results. A high rate of “prefer not to respond” answers in your employee survey data suggests that your business may not be positioned to thrive, particularly during economic downturns.

Choosing “prefer not to respond” is a signal of fear in the workplace, hurts belonging and lowers self-esteem and employee engagement. By paying close attention to these (non-)responses, organisations can uncover insights to help tailor their D&I strategies; find undiscovered pockets of strength; and monitor people’s ability to bring their full selves to work.

 

Learn how we can help you track the employee experience and build trust during COVID-19. Contact Us

 

The feature has been adapted from a similar article by Claire Hastwell, Content Marketing Manager at Great Place to Work®

GPTW UK

Great Place To Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Our mission is to help every place become a great place to work for all. We give leaders and organizations the recognition and tools to create a consistently and overwhelmingly positive employee experience, fostering cultures that are proven to drive business, improve lives, and better society. Our recognition is the most coveted and respected in the world for elevating employer brands to attract the right people. Our proprietary methodology and platform enables organizations to truly capture, analyze, and understand the experience of all employees. Our groundbreaking research empowers organizations to build cultures that retain talent and unlock the potential of every employee. Our coaches, content, and community connect the boldest leaders, ideas, and innovations in employee experience. Since 1992, our Certification™, Best Workplaces™ Lists, and global benchmarks have become the industry standard, built on data from more than 100 million employees in 150 countries around the world.

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from