3 ways to get the most out of your employee feedback

 

Gathering employee feedback has been a critical part of ensuring a positive and engaging employee experience for years. And, there’s even solid evidence that shows a direct correlation between feedback and engagement: 59% of employees feel engaged when their employer asks for feedback, compared to just 49% engagement among those whose employers don’t ask.

This is especially critical during times of uncertainty and rapid change—which, thanks to a global pandemic, seems to be the universal condition for the foreseeable future. Now more than ever, companies need to cultivate connections between the organization and employees in order to successfully navigate the uncharted waters we’re all facing.

But now that the way we work has shifted dramatically toward remote, distributed teams, keeping a pulse on employee feedback, engagement and satisfaction is much harder. Without the kinds of nonverbal cues and behaviors we can easily spot in the office, it can be tough to gauge whether employees understand your organization’s policies and pathway through these tumultuous times and whether they’re feeling understood themselves.

That means merely asking for feedback isn’t enough. Companies must dive deeper and take a more strategic approach to get the most value out of their employees’ input and perspective. Here’s how:

1. Take action based on feedback and let employees know.

If their feedback feels ignored, employees are less likely to share it in the future. When employees offer suggestions or raise concerns, of course, you want to take action, but also communicate that change to employees. Let them know that they’ve been heard and make it clear you’ve implemented action as a result. Seeing their ideas come to fruition or their concerns mitigated creates a cycle of feedback and helps employees feel more invested in the organization.

2. Turn feedback into a dialog.

Gathering input from your employees is important but communicating back is even more critical. Especially during times of change, communication must be a two-way street. You may even uncover unknown issues or opportunities in the process. For example, if you send out messages related to updates in policy or procedures, encourage employees to respond back with questions and concerns. Even if there are issues you can’t “fix,” having the conversation has value in itself because it demonstrates empathy and shows that you understand employees are each facing their own unique circumstances.

3. Measure engagement with communications.

Beyond overt feedback—direct responses you get from employees—measuring how they engage with your messages is also critical. Of course, you want to hear what employees have to say, but what they do in response is also a powerful measure of their sentiment. People show how they feel by the actions they take, so measuring their behavior is extremely valuable. Did they open the email on a specific topic? Did they click on a link? Watch a video or read a document?

For example, getting feedback that health and wellness are important to your staff is great, but knowing which wellness programs they actually participate in speaks louder about what they want. Measuring these two types of feedback—what they say and what they do—provides deeper insight into how to better serve your employee population.

Combining both qualitative and quantitative measures of feedback provides a complete picture of where employees are during massive changes. This vital information can help you not only craft better employee programs to enhance engagement but also refine your communications to ensure the messages you send resonate with the intended audience. By adopting processes to gather more insightful feedback and using it to guide your communication strategy, navigating through even the toughest changes becomes much easier and less jarring for employees when they know they’re being heard.

Keith Kitani is CEO & co-founder of GuideSpark.