Why 360 Surveys Don't Always Work - and What You Should Do Instead

Some companies are beginning to jump on the 360-degree feedback wagon, others are jumping ship for better alternatives

June 27, 2022
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As a human being, you're probably familiar with the idea and practice of feedback, whether from friends, family, or colleagues. People constantly give each other feedback to help one another improve. 

And organizations aren't left out.

The best organizations are those aware of the need for employees to constantly grow and they put things in place to make that work. One of the ways these organizations achieve that is through standard performance feedback - the 360-degree feedback.

The 360 survey plays an excellent job of maximizing the opinions of all those involved in the feedback session. However, it is easy for bias to become a determining factor in the information generated from the survey – making it an unreliable data source.

So, while many companies are beginning to jump on the 360-degree feedback wagon, others are jumping ship to look for better alternatives to the 360 surveys.

This article will explore the 360 feedback survey, its purpose, and other alternatives.

Let's begin!

What is a 360 survey?

A 360 survey, also called a 360 review or 360-degree feedback is a process that solicits employee feedback on an employee's performance from several sources: managers, peers, reports, and self-assessments.

Organizations can use 360 Feedback questions to get input from everyone around an employee. And in cases where the employee interacts with external people, clients and contractors may also be asked to give feedback.

It typically includes questions and statements that outline competency levels in different areas. And by using a 360 Employee Review Flow, organizations can determine where their employees need training or commendation.

To learn more about 360 Review and other performance management flows, schedule a quick call today.

Are 360 evaluations effective?

Some of the benefits of using 360 surveys include:

Broader Perspective

With 360 surveys, feedback from all levels can help the organization see blind spots that will ordinarily not be discovered.


When employees get feedback from their colleagues and managers, they become more self-aware and strive to be better for the growth and productivity of the team.


The survey creates a sense of responsibility among everyone. Employees will be more encouraged to improve themselves to reduce negative feedback and help teammates improve themselves to increase productivity.

Unfortunately, the 360 survey doesn't always work.

What are the key problems with 360-degree evaluations?

360-degree evaluations are a great way to get feedback from all who interact with you at work. But there are a few critical problems with these evaluations, including:

Not designed for all industries and positions

Some employees need to have more direct feedback than others. If you ask them what they think about their co-workers, they might be unable to give accurate answers because they don't know them well enough. You also have to consider whether the person giving the feedback knows enough about the job to provide helpful recommendations.

The survey leaves room for bias

Some wordings can significantly impact the results of an employee survey. For example, asking employees whether they like working for the company or whether they would recommend a manager is likely to elicit different answers than asking them about how they feel about how things should be done in the office.

Suppose an employee is unpopular or disliked by their peers or direct reports (for example). In that case, the evaluators may give lower ratings when asked about their performance than if they were more well-liked by others in the workplace. All these could skew results so much that it becomes difficult to get an accurate idea of how well each person performs.

They're time-consuming

In a large team, 360 reviews are challenging to coordinate and manage. Keeping track, organizing, and delivering feedback can be tedious and time-consuming without proper training.

Asking employees to fill out multiple evaluation forms takes time away from other things they could be doing. If the company uses a computerized system, it also requires them to enter their responses online, which still takes time away from work.

Lack of anonymity

While 360-degree reviews boast of anonymity, they are not entirely anonymous. Some organizations allow their employees to remain anonymous when completing the survey, while some don't. However, even if an employee does choose to stay anonymous, there's no guarantee that their colleagues won't share their names with others who fill out the same survey.

No Standardized Process

There's no standardized benchmark to gather 360 feedback data or analyze the responses across different organizations. This means that some managers may focus on the positives while others, on the negatives.

And overly focusing on negative aspects creates a sour atmosphere for everyone involved, even the managers.

Get started with effective surveys today, book a 15-minute call.

What are good alternative methods of feedback instead of 360 surveys?

Although the 360-degree evaluation is a common way of reviewing employees, its downsides don't make it a wholesome evaluation.Here are some alternatives to consider:

1:1 feedback sessions

One-on-one feedback meetings are a great alternative to 360-degree feedback surveys because they're less intimidating than 360 surveys.

They are a fantastic way to get specific and actionable feedback from your employees. And an opportunity for the manager to get some feedback as well. Managers can use guiding questions and templates to get the best out of the session.

The idea behind one-on-one feedback meetings is simple: instead of employees giving feedback through a survey, they can get and provide direct feedback and build trust.

Empower your team to succeed with Assembly. Get started today. Schedule a demo.

Essay Evaluation

Another alternative to 360-degree feedback is the essay evaluation method. This method allows the manager to discuss the employee's performance in detail, allowing room to highlight their strengths and opportunities for improvement.

One of the benefits of this method is that it doesn't restrict the users to a structure or format that makes it difficult to give comprehensive feedback.


This feedback method is most effective when combined with a performance feedback session. The employee rates his performance using a self-evaluation survey or template containing multiple choice answers, essay-type answers, or a combination of the two.

Employees can rate themselves properly with the right self-evaluation questions, and the manager can compare evaluations. This method builds a needed self-awareness among the employees, allowing them to dig deep and highlight their strengths and opportunities by themselves.

It also reduces bias as there's an opportunity for the manager to cross-check for areas of a discrepancy, opening up room for more discussion on the employee's performance.

360 Surveys Don't Always Work, So Encourage A Feedback Culture

Feedback surveys are valuable tools for companies to get customer feedback. But not all feedback surveys are equal in effectiveness. 

If you don't already have a culture of regular, immediate feedback in your organization, start cultivating one.

Asking your team for feedback and encouraging regular, open dialogue will deepen relationships, build trust and effectively address issues before they become real problems.

Survey tools with the right capabilities help organizations learn about employee strengths and weaknesses. Still, it is more important to focus on creating an environment where your team is comfortable giving and receiving feedback. And look for strategic opportunities to gather specific, unbiased data to grow the team.

To learn more about performance management flows, schedule a quick call today.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered