We can all pretty much agree that the success of any company depends on the engagement and performance of its employees. However, despite this commonly accepted ideal, organizations are still trying to crack the code that ensures their employees are highly engaged and performing at the top of their game.

So why is it that we know employee engagement matters but we still aren’t moving the needle when it comes to progress?

For too long, we’ve touted the annual employee engagement survey as the single solution to driving increased employee engagement and organizational improvement, but this sole focus on annual surveys was actually just a result of restrictive and slow technologies. Today, employee feedback can (and should) funnel in from every key employee milestone and event—and it can all be done in an automated and real-time manner.

These advances in technology have freed organizations from slow and stale approaches to employee feedback and employee measurement—but now the organization must free themselves and adapt to a new approach.

Full Lifecycle Employee Feedback Programs

Let’s take a step back and think about what you’re actually trying to achieve when you collect employee feedback—whether that’s employee engagement feedback or insights from the onboarding process. You want insights to help you hire better people, reduce ramp time, increase an employee’s ceiling and trajectory, and drive longer and more effective tenure. And to achieve these holy grail outcomes you need to measure meaningful experiences your employees face throughout the entirety of their lifecycle.

employee lifecycle

You’ll want to drill deeper and understand those meaningful moments across the lifecycle. Technology and robust solutions now support easy-to-run programs like candidate reaction surveys, pre-hire assessments, and regular interview insights. You may also want to zero in on new hire experience to understand how to reduce employee ramp time. And of course, you’ll want frequent macro measurement channels to look at things like employee engagement, development, performance and productivity.

Now that may feel like a lot of programs to run right out of the gate so deciding the combination of channels that you’ll use today, and which you want to grow into is crucial.

Below, I’ve outlined six feedback channels to choose from as you begin building the right mix of programs for your organization.

Six Employee Feedback Channels to Choose From

Six Ways to Listen to Employees

  1. Always on feedback is similar to an online suggestion box in that it is always available to employees. One of the most popular ways we’ve seen this implemented is to gather peer recognition. This is a fantastic way for employees to recognize their peers for their efforts. Another technique is to use QR codes sprinkled throughout the office to gather always-on feedback.
  2. Ad Hoc surveys, in contrast, are a one-time implementation. This could help measure employee reactions on a new initiative or a recent organizational change. These are one-off measurements that don’t need to be repeated.
  3. Pulse surveys are some of the most effective for predictive modeling. The critical thing with pulse is that you are repeating this on a regular basis, usually monthly or quarterly. In order for you to be able to use these results as a benchmark to measure the overall employee sentiment at your organization, the surveys should be a systematic, predictable measurement – not one in which the questions consistently change.
  4. Employee lifecycle surveys are an event-based, standardized measure of the employee experience at critical points in the employee lifecycle. This could occur at particular milestones such as when an employee returns to work after maternity leave.
  5. Multi-rater assessments are primarily individual, employee-focused assessments that can range from pure self-development to formal performance appraisal
  6. Census engagement surveys are what most companies use for their employee engagement program. They are the traditional, robust measure of employee engagement and are typically 40-50 questions. They track data all the way throughout the organization and are usually a significant undertaking for those in charge of running them.

It’s not about choosing one end or the other. In fact, you need surveys across the spectrum in order to fully understand each aspect of the employee experience. As you think about utilizing these mechanisms to communicate with your employees, we hope you use a combination of a few of the methods listed above.

This is built out so you are able to see which forms work for which kinds of experience measurements. You don’t necessarily need all six because there is not one right way of doing things. In fact, some major companies only use three. When we examined what Qualtrics does internally, we were pleased to find we use all six. We have a bit of an advantage though since we own the platform.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of the topics above, tune in for our 4-part webinar series, “The Employee Experience Masterclass.”