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Enhanced Anonymity (EX)

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About Enhanced Anonymity

The anonymity threshold determines how many responses must be included for a given data point before it can appear in your dashboard. This data point can be as broad as a widget or as specific as a bar within a chart.

There are also settings for enhanced anonymity. While the anonymity threshold is a great way to protect the privacy of employees’ responses, enhanced anonymity adds additional layers to filters and widget breakouts that can improve anonymity in certain use cases.

For example, let’s say Barnaby’s team has 15 people. When we look at the engagement scores for his team, we don’t really know how each team member responded to questions about their manager’s effectiveness. However, let’s say there are only 2 women on his team. Regular anonymity thresholds will ensure we can’t see the women’s responses directly, however, if we add a gender filter, we can make a pretty good guess what each of the women on his team had to say. enhanced anonymity senses disparities of this kind. It ensures that data from groups that don’t meet the anonymity Threshold is combined with the next smallest group to hide their answers when breaking out data or using filters.

Qtip: Enhanced anonymity is available in Engagement, Lifecycle, and Ad Hoc Employee Research projects. It is included in all EX licenses.

Anonymity Thresholds

The anonymity threshold determines how many responses must be included for a given data point before it can appear in your dashboard. This data point can be as broad as a widget or as specific as a bar within a chart.

  1. While viewing your dashboard, click Settings.
    the settings button at the top of a dashboard
  2. Go to the Anonymity tab.
    the anonymity tab in dashboard settings. the options to limit anonymity by response data and comments are availble here
  3. Under Minimum responses to display datapoints, decide how many responses must be collected before data will show up in the widgets. This limit is applied to all data breakouts in all widgets.
    Example: The image below shows a Comparison widget that is broken out by the active Org Hierarchy. If units have response counts below the Anonymity Threshold, then those units will display no data in the widget. Units with a response count above the Anonymity Threshold will display data as normal. Since the number of responses for the Mary Shelley and Mark Twain units falls below the Anonymity Threshold, the widget displays the message, “Too few responses” for these units.
    image of a comparison widget being broken out by org hierarchy units. "too few responses" displays for some units since the number of responses for the unit falls below the anonymity threshold
  4. Under Minimum responses to display comments, decide how many responses must be collected before open-ended text responses will show up in the widgets.

Enabling Enhanced Anonymity

Enhanced anonymity can be turned on and off at the level of the dashboard.

Attention: The Anonymity tab in dashboard settings is only available for Brand Administrator and EX Administrator user types.
  1. While viewing your dashboard, click Settings.
    the settings button at the top of a dashboard
  2. Go to the Anonymity tab.
    the anonymity tab. the turn on enhanced anonymity option is enabled
  3. Enable Turn on Enhanced Anonymity.
  4. Click Save.

Identifiable Fields

There are some fields participants can be identified by, to which you will want to apply Enhanced Anonymity, and some fields by which participants can’t be identified, to which you will not want Enhanced Anonymity applied. For example, tenure, gender, and the team to which someone belongs can all be used to figure out who they are. However, questions asked in an Employee Experience survey are almost always non-identifiable, with the exception of demographic questions like language, location of office, and age.

When fields are marked as identifiable, the data from groups that do not meet the anonymity threshold will be combined with the next smallest group in order to protect the identities of the respondents. When fields are not selected and are marked at unidentifiable, this grouping will not happen unless you filter or break out by an identifiable field.

Attention: When a field is selected, it is marked identifiable and will be subject to Enhanced Anonymity. When a field is not selected, it is marked unidentifiable and will not be subject to Enhanced Anonymity.

In order to edit which fields are marked identifiable and which are not, you will want to do the following:

  1. Go to Settings.
    Button that says Settings and has a gear icon
  2. Select Anonymity.
    Anonymity tab of dashboard settings has a long list of dashboard fields

    Attention: The Anonymity tab in dashboard settings is only available for Brand Administrator and EX Administrator user types.
  3. Select fields to mark them as identifiable. This means enhanced anonymity settings apply. Deselect fields to mark them as non-identifiable.
  4. Click Save.
  5. To return to the original configuration and remove all your changes, click Reset.
Qtip: All metadata fields are marked as identifiable by default. All question fields are not marked identifiable by default.

Example: In our dashboard, we did not mark engagement questions as identifiable, because they are not demographic and cannot be used to identify their respondents in any way.

Highlighting deselected survey questions in anonymity settings

Let’s say the dashboard’s threshold is 5. If we made a table displaying how employees responded to a non-identifiable field like “I feel proud to tell people where I work,” answers will not be grouped. See below how “Strongly Disagree” appears, although it only has one response.

Horizontal blue bar graph displays data described

Note that the total number of responses in the widget must still meet the threshold. This graph has a total of 90 responses. If it had fewer than five, the graph would be blank because the default behavior of the anonymity threshold is to hide data from widgets that do not meet the threshold.

Setting the Primary Data Source

When using Enhanced Anonymity, if you are also using historical sources in your dashboard, it’s important to go to Dashboard Settings and limit page filters by the current year’s data.

In dashboard settings, the limit page filters to specific data dropdown has just one thing selected

Otherwise, dashboard filters include data from all data sources in the dashboard data, which means historical data may be included in response counts, and can skew anonymity groupings. For example, if current and historical results are counted for a small team rather than just the current year’s results, the small team seems bigger than it really is, and may not fall below the anonymity threshold. Limiting the filters to the primary data source (i.e., the current project or current year’s data) resolves this issue.

Filter Behavior

Qtip: This only applies to fields marked as identifiable in the dashboard settings.

Once you’ve enabled enhanced anonymity and added a filter to your dashboard, filter options with results below the threshold will be combined with the next smallest option in the filter before any selections are made. If you have just one group that falls below the threshold, this will be combined with the next smallest group, regardless of whether the next group meets the threshold or not. This is to ensure that even if only one group doesn’t meet the threshold, their data is protected.

As filters are added or removed, enhanced anonymity will take these into account and change the groupings accordingly.

Example: In the screenshot below, we are trying to filter by department. This is a small company, so Legal and Human Resources have very small teams, below the anonymity threshold we have set.

Filter at the top of a dashboard, open it up and we see a few of the filter options are grayed together under the headline "grouped for anonymity"

You’ll see that Legal and Human Resources are under the header Grouped for Anonymity. If I try to select just one, they will both automatically be selected. If I try to deselect one, both are deselected. This prevents users from figuring out the values of below-threshold groups.

Breakout Behavior

Qtip: Grouping by anonymity will only happen to fields marked as identifiable. Please see the linked section for more information on identifiable vs. unidentifiable fields.

Once you turn on enhanced functionality, this feature will interact with your dashboard’s anonymity threshold to determine the data displayed in widgets where data has been broken out into certain groups. This includes Simple Charts where an x-axis dimension has been defined, demographic breakout widgets, heat map widgets, and any other widget configuration that isolates groups that may be smaller than the Anonymity Threshold.

The exceptions to this rule include widgets broken out by org hierarchy. Some widgets (heat map, demographic breakout) support a One Level Below breakout that shows data for each child unit of the currently selected unit in the org hierarchy filter. Other widgets (response rates, comparison, bubble chart) support drilling down into the hierarchy, showing data for each unit and allowing the user to select them. For these cases, no grouping is applied to breakouts.

Example: Let’s pretend the anonymity threshold for the following example is 5.

In the screenshot below, we have set the x-axis dimension of a simple chart to be the country where the employee’s office is located. Japan, Mexico, and Poland have very small offices, to the point where at least two of them have fewer than 5 people working there. As a result, their responses have been combined.

Editing a blue simple chart widget. On the right, where all the labels are listed in the editor, the grouped by anonymity label is grayed, so you can't edit it

If you were to change the metric to an average engagement score or an NPS, enhanced anonymity would prevent you from figuring out the smallest office’s data by not allowing dashboard users to isolate that office’s data. This is useful in cases where, for example, we do not want the ratings of each member of the smallest office to be easily calculated.

Multiple Breakouts

Some widgets break out on multiple dimensions – for example, simple charts let you add both an x-axis value and a data series, and simple tables let you add both rows and columns.

The more you break out data, the smaller each category can get, and the more categories that get grouped together under anonymity. And because there are now two dimensions to the breakout, there may be different combinations of categories that need to be grouped together for anonymity. Thus, categories grouped for anonymity will be labeled Grouped for Anonymity, and you can hover over them to determine what specific categories were grouped.

Example: This dashboard has a threshold of 5. In the graph below, we broke out the countries our employees work in by attrition risk. We can see a light green block for Mexico in the Low Risk bar, but not in the High Risk bar.

When we highlight the Grouped for Anonymity blocks for each bar, we discover that there’s a difference: Mexico was grouped with Japan and Poland in the High Risk bar, but only Japan and Poland were grouped in the Low Risk bar.

Look at the screenshot below. In High Risk, Mexico has no individual data ( ), but Japan + Mexico + Poland shows data, since these are grouped together for anonymity (5). Under Low Risk, Mexico meets the threshold, so it does not need to be grouped, and shows individual data (17), while Japan + Poland are grouped together (5).

You’ll also notice that in the legend, anonymity groups are labeled as Grouped for Anonymity, not a compound name. This is to take into account how groupings might change based on how multiple breakouts interact, and to prevent labels that are too long.

Response Rates Behavior

Response rates display how many responses you received, and what percentage of your participant list has completed the survey. This kind of data is reported by participation summary and response rate widgets.

By default, the dashboard considers response rates to be identifiable information. This means response rate data can be used to identify participants, and so to protect your participants, response rates are subject to being grouped by anonymity.

Example: When you create a response rate widget, you can add a field to break out the widget. Below, we have broken out our response rates by country, which has resulted in Australia, Germany, and Mexico being grouped for anonymity.

Response rates widget broken out as described

Thus, response rate widgets display the same breakout behavior other widgets do.

Qtip: “Response Rates” is not an available field in the dashboard settings’ Anonymity page; thus, you cannot turn this behavior off.
Qtip: Anonymity is based on the responded counts, not the Invited counts. Invited counts are known independently – i.e., a manager knows how many direct reports are on their team – and so the invited counts themselves do not need anonymity protections the way responded counts do.

If the response count is below the threshold, you will not see data in the participation summary widget.

Participation summary has dashes and no numbers

Org Hierarchy Filters

If the number of responses for a unit is less below the anonymity threshold, then we gray out org hierarchy units that fall below the threshold. This is to protect the anonymity of respondents.

A screenshot of a hierarchy filter with units grayed out

Qtip: This is the invited count and not response count. If you have anonymous responses, that will not update the count.