Employee feedback systems: How to get started
What is an employee feedback system?
Employee feedback, as we know, is information about performance, skills and teamwork that employees of a company exchange with each other. The idea is that managers and peers provide positive and negative feedback to nip bad habits in the bud and promote best practice, to create a harmonious working environment.
Employee feedback systems are the methods used for capturing feedback data, analyzing it, and using the results to drive improvements. Improvements in the employee experience have knock-on effects to the customer experience, brand equity and the success of a company.
Why collecting and acting on employee feedback is important
- Minor gripes or problems can steadily grow into major ones if the only feedback opportunity is a yearly employee satisfaction survey. It makes sense to be able to flag up an issue with an employee, team members, a leader, or a process as soon as it gets noticed.
- Dynamic roles, in a fast paced and agile environment, where people continually learn and grow, need frequent feedback to ensure projects are always on track.
- When employees are happy at work, with their performance and environment, their productivity increases and they take fewer sick days. An enthusiastic, positive vibe pervades the company culture, and feedback picks up any glitches that rock the positivity. And constructive criticism can help make an already good employee experience even better.
- Every workplace has its own dynamic, which can ebb and flow with personalities, communications and projects. Employee feedback is essential to monitor the dynamic’s smooth running, picking up on any conflicts or tensions and addressing them before they become problematic.
- Employee attrition, where workers have enough of an employer and leave, is greatly reduced in organizations that use regular employee feedback. When people feel that they are valued, their opinion matters, and their voices are heard, they tend to stay with that company longer.
- Companies grow and thrive when employees are happy and working together towards a common purpose. Employee feedback, when acted upon in a timely manner, keeps the corporate ship on an even keel to profitability.
How to set up an employee feedback system
It’s no longer enough to email out an annual 50-question survey and assume that the resulting data will be business-changing. To get useful insights from your employees, you’ll need to do the following:
You wouldn’t start a job without lining up a toolbox first. The same goes for setting up your employee feedback system. There are plenty of great tools out there to help you:
1. Ask for feedback at the right times
You want insights to help you hire the best people, reduce ramp time, develop employees with training and promotions, and get the good ones to stay with you. To achieve these ‘holy grail’ outcomes, you need to measure the meaningful experiences your employees have at key touchpoints throughout their whole lifecycle. Implement feedback loops throughout the five stages:
- Recruitment – all the steps that lead to hiring a new employee.
- Onboarding – the stage when a new hire gets up to speed with the tools, systems, processes and expectations of the role.
- Development – the ongoing stage where individual employees develop at different rates and in various competencies.
- Retention – the goal here is to keep employees performing, developing and contributing.
- Exit – the final stage of the lifecycle, when employees leave.
2. Ask for feedback in the right way: 6 methods
Listening to employees should be something that runs through the DNA of any organization. From informal shop-floor chats to sophisticated feedback platforms, it’s essential that workers have their say, and are listened to:
- Census engagement surveys: The traditional big, unwieldy beasts of the feedback world, probably facing extinction. These are the annual 40-50-question surveys that track data throughout the organization, and are a significant undertaking for whoever is tasked with running them.
- Employee lifecycle surveys are an event-based, standardized measure of employees’ experience at critical touchpoints in the employee lifecycle, such as when an employee returns to work after maternity leave.
- Ad hoc surveys, these are one-offs, useful to help measure employee reaction to a new initiative or recent organizational change.
- Pulse surveys, by the nature of their regularity (weekly, monthly, quarterly) are particularly effective for predictive modeling. And by keeping the questions the same, they are particularly useful for tracking information over time and benchmarking.
- 360 surveys, where feedback is gathered from managers, peers and the employee themselves, are useful for a range of assessments, from self-development to formal performance reviews. Learn more about 360 surveys in our best practices ebook.
- Always-on feedback – got a gripe, or a bright idea? Always-on feedback is an online suggestion box that is constantly available to employees to gather peer recognition, suggest ideas, and open up in confidence.
3. Ask for feedback through the right channels
With the extensive variety of platforms and devices available to employees, at work, and remotely, there’s no single channel for feedback any more. And people expect a variety of ways to have their say. Options include:
- Online feedback surveys, as we’ve explained above
- Mobile survey tools, such as SMS
- Emails soliciting feedback
- Suggestion boxes on the company website
- Productivity apps, such as Slack and Asana, which can have feedback tools bolted into them
- Face-to-face sessions – with all this available technology, it’s easy to forget that employees are people and respond to human interaction. Face-to-face 1:1s, whether in person or over video-conferencing such as Zoom, are good for fostering rapport, morale and belonging.
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