Posted by John Kleeman, Founder and Executive Director
As part of my “Unlocking the Potential of Assessments” podcast series, I recently interviewed Bernt Nilsen who is CEO of Norsk Test, a Norwegian testing company (you can listen to the podcast here). During the podcast, he mentioned an interesting use of assessments – to conduct an anonymous audit and I thought it would be worth describing the use case in a blog post.
Anonymous audit tests get a very high participation level and allow an organization to measure effectively workforce skills accurately to identify if the organization has a training need or other challenge. See the screenshot for an illustration of the concept.
Some advantages of anonymous audit tests:
- Can increase employee participation from around 50%-60% to 90%.
- Likely to reduce cheating as there is no motivation to cheat if others won’t know your score. This gives more accurate and candid results.
- Because data is anonymous, there is less or no need to consider privacy laws like the GDPR.
- They reduce test anxiety. People are often nervous when taking a test, but an anonymous test builds self-confidence and may make taking a future identified test less worrying.
- Customer project managers like it because it has high participation and gives them useful data.
Anonymous testing is very easy to set up.
Here is what you do:
- Create an appropriate test that measures capability.
- Present to all team members anonymously. Include communications reassuring people that their names or IDs are not shared with management.
- At the end of the test, present individual feedback and optional e-learning to help team members learn
- Give management the overall result. Include topics and questions where their teams are weak in, but do not identify any individuals.
This technique can be especially useful in sensitive situations, e.g. you want to identify if people follow compliance rules or in situations where employee privacy is important. It can also be useful in organizations with work councils, where personally identified assessments need to go through an approval procedure.
There are lots of ways to organize assessment delivery within Questionmark OnDemand where results are anonymous, including an optional setting for anonymous results. Or you can use one-time numerical identifiers.
According to Bernt, Norsk Test have used anonymous audit testing extensively for testing of IT skills (e.g. basic Word skills or Internet security). They go to organizations such as financial institutions and local government and conduct an anonymous test to help the organization know if there is an issue that needs remediation. It can be a good sales technique for a wider assessment and training program – in some cases, Norsk Test offer an anonymous test for free or at a low price, to encourage purchase of a fuller testing and training program.
In some cases, Norsk Test follow up the anonymous test with a training program and then a personally identified test as the organization does in time need to know of individuals who need remediation. It’s also possible to run regular anonymous tests, for example a test of capability now and repeat the test in 6 or 12 months to see if capability has improved.
I think this anonymous audit test idea could be interesting for a lot of organizations, who want to determine if they have an issue or if their team capability changes over time. In non-core areas, anonymous tests can have much wider participation and give more accurate results (as less cheating) than tests which identify people. Some applications I can envisage:
- Checking whether your team follow diversity and inclusivity rules and whether they think others do;
- Measuring an organization’s digital literacy or data literacy skills over time;
- Checking cybersecurity especially with employees working at home;
- Regulatory compliance understanding of rules or willingness to comply.
I hope this blog post might spark a possible project for your organization.