Employees are the heart of every organization. But while most people understand the central role employees play, too many organizations rely on feedback programs that are unimpactful, and even burdensome. You know the type of program I’m talking about—six months to develop the questionnaire, another two to analyze the data, and then a lukewarm response from leadership when it’s finally presented.

Thankfully, we are at an inflection point in the HR industry where people analytics leaders and individual managers are now expected to shape the employee experience and do things quite differently. Organizations around the globe are rebooting their programs and aligning them with the organization’s mission in an effort to drive true employee experience impact.

There are two main reasons for this shift towards better employee experience programs. First, HR teams and analysts finally have access to the same robust, powerful, and intuitive tools that other business functions rely on. But even more than that, a new mindset is emerging among company leaders throughout an organization. Leaders are hungry for employee feedback because they are starting to realize and rethink the impact it can have not just on employee experience but other key outcomes as well—customer experience, increased revenue, more efficient hiring, better products, and a stronger brand.

In fact, the most successful organizations today realize that the employee experience drives nearly every element of their business, meaning employee feedback is crucial.

As these trends spread through HR and the global corporate bloodstream, there are three core principles to help you and your organization keep pace with the changes. These observations are built off the hundreds of calls and client visits the Qualtrics’ People Performance Team have made over the course of the last two years. Organizations like Yahoo, ZillowVolkswagen, and so many more. As you help shape your workplace into an employee-centric one, keep these core messages in mind.

Real People, Not Just Data

Behind every data point is a real person. It sounds obvious, but most employee feedback programs rarely look at the living, breathing people behind the numbers.

Think about your own job for a second – who do you interact with the most? Is it the leadership team? No—it’s the members of your team, maybe also some cross-functional teams you work with, and your manager. So it follows that they are the people who can have the biggest impact on your experience at work—not the leadership team reviewing a data set with responses from tens of thousands of employees.

Understanding the value of those relationships and reflecting it in your feedback program is essential if you’re going to drive change. Empowering managers to better understand the experiences their own teams are having and then showing them, with technology and expertise, how they can have a positive impact will go much, much further in improving motivation, engagement, and productivity than any organization-wide approach ever has.

My favorite way to think about this comes from the old adage, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” As an HR leader, you are the enabler and the teacher. You give managers and leaders technology and insights that have the power to change the way they manage and address the unique experiences and development of their respective teams throughout the organization.

Expectations Are Changing

Traditionally, organizations gathered feedback through an annual engagement study—but this was only because immature technology and engagement methods prevented them from being able to measure employee experience on a more frequent or targeted basis.

Well, technology is no longer a limiting factor and great products build expertise right into the platform. Today you can go from a blank screen to a complete analysis of your employees’ responses in just a few days. And you can access action plans and expert-built content in-product, on the web, and through a handful of readily available resources.

In our latest Employee Pulse research, we asked people how often they want to give feedback.

Once every three months was by far the most popular cadence, followed closely by once every six months. That’s nearly four times more frequent than the traditional approach—and today, that’s not only possible, it’s simple.

When we break the data down by age groups, we see a generational difference—more than 50% of under 25s want to be able to give feedback more often than every three months and more than 25% go further and would like to give feedback at a minimum frequency of once per week.

Contrast that with an older generation, where 18% still want to give feedback just once a year and 24% would do it every six months. This data and our customers throughout the globe clearly tell us that expectations of employees are changing.

It’s time that employee feedback and employee experience programs catch up!

More Feedback Doesn’t Mean Always Mean More Impact— But Smart Feedback Does

Your employees want to give more feedback, but it would be fruitless to just up the frequency of your surveys and overwhelm your teams with feedback requests.

We find that while a census employee engagement survey should remain the foundation of a great program (whether you run it on an annual or quarterly basis), no single survey can possibly measure every touchpoint and experience along the employee journey.

The most successful programs look at each stage of the employee lifecycle as an opportunity to gather feedback and drive improvements—pre-hire, onboarding, after a promotion, upon returning from parental leave. There are handfuls of milestones and moments that have an impact on everything from engagement to productivity, and you should be measuring the milestones that matter to your employees.

You can no longer afford to wait 12 months to find out if that training course for the sales teams had an effect or if that new onboarding program is reducing your ramp time.

Now before you get overwhelmed by the thought of an always-on feedback program, keep in mind that technology makes automates this feedback process. With HRIS integrations, Qualtrics can trigger feedback requests to employees as they pass certain milestones, meaning you have an ongoing stream of milestone or event-based feedback updating in real-time, all the time.

Taken across the entire employee lifecycle, all these data points combine to give leaders a detailed view of the employee experience and show where, when, and how they can drive the biggest impact on their teams.

The employee experience is uniquely personal and with the technology HR teams now have at their disposal, you can get closer to the people behind the data and really understand what you can do to improve their experience at work.

The payoff is an obvious one—happy employees, designing better products and services and delivering to happier customers.

Ready to start optimizing your employee experience? Get in touch today to book a demo.