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Adding Neutral Score to Favourable?

Does anyone have the experience adding Neutral to Favourable score? If yes, what is the usual justification to management/organization for this?


Hey Kay, welcome to People Geek Answers!

The way I think of the “Neutral” scores is as of those of people who are still “on the fence” about the question. They don’t feel strongly about disagreeing but they maybe haven’t seen enough (any!) evidence of the question to allow them to agree - which sometimes can indicate that there’s not actually something wrong or broken, but just that you’ve not communicated enough of the successes you’re having in that area - and that the area is important to your culture.

Another reason for large neutral groups can be if a question is ambiguous. People don’t know how to respond so they just hit the middle option to be sure. A look at the comments on the question would usually reveal if that’s the case.

My question though is why you are proposing to add the Neutral responses to the ‘Favourable score’ when you report the results? I am assuming the suggestion/initiative is coming from you or somewhere else, if you’re feeling a need to justify it to management/organization. What is the reason for doing it in your view?



Hi Kay,
I think Joe is spot on here.
I want to add one more area I’ve seen neutral used: In some teams where the tempers are hot around survey scores, people may use neutral as their low score to avoid fallout. This is one of the reasons the questions Joe is asking are appropriate. I’d ask one more question: How does the organization perceive the surveys, and when there are negative results, what is the reaction managers have with team members?

Kind regards,
Geoff Irwin

I don’t think there is any statistical justification for adding neutral scores to favourable or unfavourable scores. There maybe conceptual reasons, but those would be difficult to justify. When we do our employee survey debriefs and ask employees why there are so many neutral responses (normally >25%), we get one of the following reasons: 1. They really want to give an unfavourable response, but they’re afraid they may be identified and victimized. 2. The statement really deserves a favourable response, but they don’t want management to get too swell-headed! 3. They don’t have enough information on the item to give an opinion. Open-ended survey questions and the post-survey debrief normally clarify what the neutrals mean.

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