Listening to staff and acting on their feedback is central to driving engagement. However, successfully planning and carrying out a feedback initiative can be difficult, complex and time-consuming, particularly in larger organisations. And then you need to have the right processes in place to analyse and act on the results that you receive in a timely manner, closing the loop and reaffirming to staff that you are listening to them. Otherwise your feedback initiatives won’t actually deliver value and can potentially damage engagement, rather than increasing it.
Here are six ways to make sure your feedback initiative succeeds:
1. Ask The Right People
It is vital to understand the context of the feedback you are collecting – who is providing it, where are they based, what jobs do they do. Therefore start by mapping your organisational hierarchy correctly so that you have an up to date picture of your business.
This makes it easier to target the right audiences for specific feedback initiatives, ensuring that questions and results are relevant. It also allows you to avoid the dangers of over-surveying or disengagement, which can happen if people receive questions that are simply not relevant to their work experience. Understanding your hierarchy also allows you to improve analysis – you can spot trends, such as lower engagement amongst certain groups, more easily when you know the context behind the answers.
2. Make It Easy To Provide Feedback
Employees are increasingly willing to share their thoughts and experiences – however the traditional paper-based annual survey doesn’t necessarily engage them or allow them to give the feedback that they want to provide. Look at newer, more engaging ways to increase completion rates, such as switching to digital, mobile compatible surveys that use a variety of question types.
Mix in quantitative and qualitative questions and move away from rigid numerical scales to sliders that let employees be more precise in their responses. By making it as easy as possible to give honest feedback you’ll get a more complete picture of sentiment across your organisation.
3. Collect Feedback Through New Means
For many organisations the annual employee survey is the main means of collecting feedback. However, in today’s fast-moving world, only listening to staff once a year, no matter how in-depth, is not going to be enough.
Move beyond solely relying on the annual survey and embrace newer ways of listening such as through online communities, always-on feedback forms, pulse and touchpoint based or event triggered feedback. Ensure that all these initiatives work together, sharing feedback data to maximise its impact and avoiding over-surveying.
4. Ask The Right Questions
The key aim of your feedback initiative should be to measure behaviours, sentiments and attitudes and identify areas where improvements can be made. Therefore, when creating questions make sure you focus on topics that you are able to address rather than those beyond your control.
Otherwise you risk gathering feedback that you cannot act on – and even worse, potentially raise employee expectations in areas that you cannot change.
5. Make It Easy To Act On
Employee feedback is an incredibly powerful source of insight – but often companies find it difficult to translate it into action. Slow reporting cycles can mean that results are out of date by the time they are communicated to managers, or the actions that they need to take are unclear. By using real-time dashboards, managers can see relevant results quickly and easily, and compare them against other business KPIs to show the tangible link between engagement and organisational effectiveness.
Whatever the topic, design your dashboards so they answer the questions your managers have rather than relying on data driven visualisation. Ensure that action planning is an integral part of your feedback initiatives, with clear advice and best practice shared with managers as part of the reporting process.
6. Communicate The Benefits To Staff
The only thing worse than not collecting feedback is collecting it and then not doing anything with it. This demotivates the workforce and reduces completion rates for future feedback initiatives as employees don’t see any benefit in sharing their views if nothing changes. Therefore, make sure that you report back after every feedback initiative and show what has been done with their feedback – if there are good reasons for not acting on particular findings, explain the reasons to your staff or you might lose their trust.
Done well, feedback initiatives are the cornerstone of an engaged, productive workforce – but there are multiple challenges to listening effectively to staff. Therefore, make sure you have the right processes in place if you want to unlock the power of feedback and improve engagement by acting it.
Alex Wilke, Questback