Wondering what additional benefits will make your total rewards package more attractive to employees?
Confused why only less than half of your team effectively utilizes the new tech tool you just rolled out?
Curious how you can help your top performers continue to grow in their careers at your company?
These are all great questions for leaders to consider. They also present an excellent opportunity to hear directly from your workers. In my experience, one of the most underutilized tools to understand the employee experience is proactive listening.
It is one thing to recognize there are problems, but it is another to see them as opportunities to enhance your business offerings. You can, and should, discuss problems in leadership team meetings, but that is only the first step in turning them into opportunities.
If you find yourself asking any of the above questions, then that is a great chance to invite feedback from your employees. Feedback doesn’t have to be just about the “big” business decisions you are facing, either. Hearing about your employees’ day-to-day work life and individual concerns can help you identify and address concerns before they even surface.
Why is feedback important in the workplace?
Soliciting, listening to, and acting upon employee feedback gives your employees a voice. It offers your leaders different and important perspectives to consider. Also, by establishing a culture that considers employee feedback, you can increase engagement and satisfaction ratings from your employees.
When decisions impact others, it is helpful to get their input and feedback. You can establish ways to gather their input and ensure their opinions and viewpoints are considered. Oftentimes, new ideas, creative solutions, and exposure of blind spots emerge when you welcome employee feedback.
Also, when employees know their opinions matter, it can strengthen morale, increase engagement, and improve job satisfaction.
To successfully implement a feedback program in your organization, a few key components are needed:
- Trust in leadership
- Ways to gather open and honest feedback
- Methods to analyze feedback
- Ways to share how the feedback was used
Your workplace culture makes a difference
Some organizations have a work culture that encourages employee feedback organically. By nurturing open, honest, and transparent communication in a collaborative workspace, organizations easily receive constructive feedback from their employees.
However, for companies that don’t already have a culture of communication, it can be more difficult to get honest feedback. Luckily, you can start building that culture now. It may take time, but through deliberate and ongoing efforts, you can create a company culture that values and seeks employee feedback.
Effective ways to collect employee feedback
When you first start gathering feedback, anonymous and/or confidential responses are best to establish trust in the process. Most employees are less likely to share their honest thoughts if it links back to them. However, this can change if honest and transparent conversations are upheld and modeled across the organization.
You can conduct employee surveys and interviews to get feedback. You can use them to gauge employee satisfaction, gather your people’s perspectives to inform decisions, or simply understand their concerns and what matters most to them.
1. Formal and Periodic Feedback
Employee Engagement Surveys: These anonymous surveys can give you a baseline for where employee engagement is across the organization. They measure employees’ commitment, motivation, sense of purpose, and passion for their work and company. These surveys are best done once or twice a year.
You can also discover key themes your leadership team can explore, creating specific goals, listening groups, and initiatives around the feedback.
Pulse Surveys: As defined by Qualtrics, “A pulse survey is a short set of questions sent to employees on a regular basis. The goal of a pulse survey is to continuously gather feedback and measure sentiment within an organization.” These surveys are great to build a continuous culture of communication, showing employees that you value their voice.
It’s best to administer pulse surveys quarterly. This rate will avoid survey fatigue while offering timely feedback on current issues. Getting regular feedback ensures that you can address concerns within a relatively short time frame.
2. Informal and Ongoing Feedback
Manager One-on-Ones: Weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings are a great way to connect with your workers and receive direct reports. When you have good relationships with employees, you can better support them and remove roadblocks. During these meetings, employees can share their current struggles while seeking advice on their day-to-day tasks and long-term career goals.
To make sure one-on-ones are effective, managers need to act more as coaches or advocates. Creating a healthy and trusting relationship with your workers is vital and will invite genuine feedback. It will also enable you to address individual employee needs real-time.
Team Meetings: Team meetings are another simple way to integrate open communication into your organization. By asking employees to share their feedback regularly, you can build an environment of trust where employees feel comfortable offering their ideas or insights. This method also allows for different perspectives and ideas to be discussed.
You can incorporate time in the regular meeting specially for feedback. It doesn’t need to be long. Sometimes five minutes are enough to spark informative conversations. You can try asking questions like, “In one sentence, which of our tech tools can you not live without, and why?”
During the allotted time, your team members can share their thoughts, highlighting the best parts as well as frustrations of tools. Hopefully, the question won’t open a type of Pandora’s box, but even if it does, you can turn it into an opportunity to improve functions and increase employee engagement.
Polls: Polls are a great way to ask more informal, low-stake questions. You can periodically run them in Zoom meetings or Slack channels to get insights into workplace concerns, what’s working well, or feelings on other work-related topics.
Here, you can add suggestion boxes for upcoming events, ask open-ended questions, and gather valuable insights all while getting your employees comfortable sharing and building a culture of feedback.
3. Intimate and As-Needed Feedback
Stay interviews: Stay interviews are a great way to hear from your top performers, high potential, and/or tenured employees. These interviews are between the employee and their manager and focus on why the employee stays with the company.
It’s important to explain the purpose of the meeting ahead of time so they can prepare. You can even provide a list of questions beforehand to make sure the employees feel comfortable and know what to expect.
Some examples of questions you can ask during the interview include:
- What do you look forward to most when you come to work every day?
- What people, resources, or tools have been most helpful to you in completing your job successfully?
- In your opinion, how do our compensation and benefits compare to other companies?
- When was the last time that you heard that you were doing a great job? By whom?
- What are we currently not doing as an organization that you think we should be doing?
These questions are useful because they highlight what your organization is doing well and where it can improve. You learn what the employee values most about their job and why they prefer to work with your organization.
Stay interviews are also a great way to address issues that may be impacting that individual (and other employees), encouraging them to stay with your company.
Exit interviews: When an employee voluntarily leaves your company, you can schedule an exit interview with them on their last day. While the interview won’t give you the chance to fix their challenges, you can gain insights into any issues current and future employees may face.
These interviews often end up being closure for the employee, allowing them to share candid feedback about the highs and lows of their time at your company. You can usually get great information about how to better support your employees and find areas to gather more employee feedback on.
During these interviews, keep an eye out for ways to support career development, promote manager and team engagement, and identify policies or practices that are unclear or not well-received. Insights from the meeting can be used to help remaining employees.
How to use feedback
Once you get feedback from employees, you may wonder what to do with it. It often depends on the type of feedback, but we recommend following these key steps.
Prioritize areas of focus: You won’t be able to address everything all at once. Therefore, it is important to prioritize your areas of focus. Prioritize issues that relate to current initiatives or issues that a large percentage of your employees share.
Engage others: You and the leadership team don’t need to handle everything alone. You can create special working groups to tackle high priority areas. Finding ways to meaningfully incorporate your teams in addressing feedback can positively impact your organization.
Track progress: Some items will be easy wins that can be accomplished quickly. Others, however, may take some time. Changes can roll-out in phases, and you might not see an impact for months. That’s why it is essential to create metrics to measure success and progress.
You can use these to provide leadership and employees with progress updates and show how the efforts impact change.
Follow-up: It’s important to share how your employees’ feedback is being used to improve your organization. Follow-ups are essential because if employees do not see how their feedback was used, it can lower morale and reduce participation in future surveys or meetings.
When following-up formalized surveys, it’s important to communicate the findings, show progress in addressing concerns, and share tangible results as soon and often as possible.
For one-on-ones and other check-ins, be sure to revisit feedback, integrate it into future conversations, and call out how the feedback is being applied.
Pros & Cons of Getting Employee Feedback
The Bottom Line
Organizations that value and invite employee feedback on a variety of topics and decision-points benefit from multiple perspectives, which can expose blind spots. Additionally, encouraging, listening to, and acting on feedback creates a better work environment. By sharing how your employees’ feedback was implemented, you can increase morale, job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.
Honest employee feedback is important for all businesses. Employees are the ones who keep your business running, afterall. So it’s vital to know how each employee feels and if they share company values. When you know employees are engaged and happy to work with you, you can cultivate success.
Effective Employee Feedback Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When it comes to employee feedback, you don’t have to create your own program from scratch. There are a variety of HRIS software providers that can help implement employee feedback tools in your organization. The top ones we recommend are BambooHR, HiBob, and Rippling. But, if you’re looking for something more specific to employee feedback and engagement, we also like CultureAmp and Lattice.
Employee feedback can help managers and senior leaders better understand the employee experience and how to better support their people. When done effectively, organizations can address issues and concerns that may impact employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. They can also focus their efforts on strengthening and enhancing areas of positive feedback.
There are various ways—formal and informal, organization-wide, and one-on-ones—that can be used to gather employee feedback. It’s important to create a safe and trust-filled relationship with your employees to ensure feedback is open, honest, and transparent.
Consider formalizing your feedback programs by first implementing a system of anonymous feedback through employee engagement surveys. This will provide a baseline for employee sentiments and provide guidance on where to focus your initial efforts.