Why is employee feedback important?
A company is only as good as its employees. Which isn’t the best news according to Gallup. In the U.S., only 33% of employees are engaged in the work they are doing. And it gets worse when you zoom out to look at the world at large. Only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide.
And studies show even your best workers are at risk. 51% of American workers are actively searching for new jobs or watching for openings. 35% of American workers have changed jobs at least once in the past 3 years. And in Q1-3 of 2016, 42% of American workers said it was a good time to find a quality job, compared to just 19% in 2012. Source
And disengagement isn’t good for business. Rapt Media reports that disengaged workers cost U.S. businesses $450-$550 billion in lost productivity per year.
Gallup research shows that engaged employees, on the other hand, are more productive and have fewer sick days and accidents, as well as lower error rates. They also have more fun at work and are significantly less likely to experience burnout.
– Can Bad Managers Be Saved?, Marco Nink & Jennifer Robinson, Gallup
Further, employee turnover can be an expensive cost for your growing business.
Employee turnover has serious negative implications when trying to grow your business. There’s the cost of finding, and then training, new people. Then you have to hope that your new hiree is as productive as the employee who left.
Some studies suggest that it takes 6 to 9 months’ salary, on average, to replace a salaried employee. While others predict it could cost up to twice of their annual salary, especially for executive-level employees.
And of course, other employees will start to wonder why their coworker left. You could see a drop in their productivity levels if they suspect that the cause for leaving was you. Or maybe they don’t tell their circle of influence about the next job opening out of fear that they too will be leaving soon.
These reasons, in particular, make honest employee feedback so valuable today.
How to get feedback from employees
Listening to your employees
One of the easiest ways to remedy the struggles I mentioned above is to listen to your employees. Those who feel like they aren’t being listened to respond by disengaging. Disengaged employees will cause more headaches for you and your business than if you had just listened.
So you should create a company culture that encourages you to listen to your employees. In the Design Pickle family, we host weekly meetings with our remote team so we can update our team members and leaders about what we have planned for the coming week and what help we need from each team.
And our various teams frequently host one-on-one meetings between team leaders and members so there aren’t any gaps in our communication.
Further, you can dedicate time each week to hosting an open office where you encourage your employees to provide feedback to you.
Create a company culture of open communication
This past July, Russ Perry, CEO of YesInsights, Design Pickle, and JAR invited the U.S.-based team to Scottsdale, AZ to do just this. On the first day, we just kicked back and relaxed with all of our team members by the pool. It was a great way for Russ to ask us for feedback in a very informal sense. Informal feedback is beneficial for any employees who might be more reserved in their criticisms.
The second day we focused on personal goals (not necessarily related to business), building a stronger team chemistry, and the future goals of our team. Again, this was another opportunity for Russ to show that he does care about the input of his team. And that he cares about us as people as much as he cares about us as employees.
Maybe it’s why the best way to get a job in the Design Pickle family is to be friends with their head of customer success, Alex Guevara.
Further, we have our own Slack channel that allows any employee to chat with one another. And our Slack channel isn’t reserved for business. Of course, we do talk business, but it’s not irregular to join another team member for a virtual cup of jo and discuss whatever is on your mind.
Never respond to feedback poorly
The only way you will be able to create a company culture rooted in open communication and breed employees who are comfortable with providing their honest feedback is to never respond to their feedback poorly.
Even if you don’t agree with their criticisms, it’s crucial to realize that your employees are voicing their concerns for a reason. It’s human nature to get defensive when you’re being criticized, but you can’t let your emotions overwhelm you in these situations.
The main reason most employees aren’t comfortable with providing their honest feedback is that they realize it is human nature to get defensive when being critiqued. And when they need to critique managers who have the ability to affect their pay or their job, they assume it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It only takes one defensive response to make your employees think twice about opening up.
However, there is no point of asking them their feedback if they don’t feel comfortable being truthful. So it should be your main area of focus to respond positively to their feedback, whether it is positive or negative.
Follow up with your employees
If not responding poorly to feedback is the most important aspect of getting feedback from your employees, then following up finishes second.
Another big reason employees aren’t too keen to provide their honest feedback is they believe that it won’t affect how the company functions. Mix this with the possibility that you’ll react negatively and it becomes crystal clear why so many employees lie when giving their higher-ups feedback.
To counteract this natural phenomenon, you need to regularly follow up with your employees to let them know how you are acting upon their feedback. Sometimes this will mean telling them that you understand where they’re coming from but that there isn’t any actionable way forward to remedy their situation. Other times, you’ll just need to update them on what you’re doing differently.
You will then need to capture their feedback after you’ve made the changes they requested to make sure it was a positive change and to reinforce the idea that providing feedback isn’t futile in your company.
Create an employee feedback loop
Capturing employee feedback needs to be an ongoing process, not just an annual or semi-annual event. So you should implement an employee feedback loop that allows you to routinely ask employees for their thoughts.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is by using a one-click survey software, like YesInsights.
Our one-click and NPS surveys make it easy for you to ask your one question to all of your employees as well as track their results over time. You can use a one-click survey to ask a Yes/No question about if there is anything you could do to make them happier to be at work. After answering, they will have the option of adding more details about why they gave the answer they did.
You can use a one-click survey to ask a Yes/No question about if there is anything you could do to make them happier to be at work. After answering, they will have the option of adding more details about why they gave the answer they did.
Then, you could use our NPS survey to ask them how happy they are at work or how likely they would be to recommend this job to a friend. Again, they will have the chance to add additional details after answering the survey.
And you’ll have the choice to capture anonymous or known feedback.
You should send out these surveys rather frequently while making sure not to neglect the more personable ways to get feedback that I mentioned above.
Another great software program you can use (that we also use) is 15Five. 15Five gives you the ability to have a virtual weekly check-in with all your team members.
You can ask your employees what they worked on this past week, how they felt while completing their work, what’s on their plate for next week, and any other relevant questions you can think of.
Both YesInsights and 15Five make it easy to track responses over time so you can keep your employees engaged, happy, and productive.
I hope this article has opened your eyes into why getting feedback from your employees is vital to the health of your business. And I hope it has helped you strategize on how to routinely get honest feedback from employees.
Regularly getting and acting on your employees’ feedback is a huge competitive advantage for your team. David Niu, the author of Careercation, traveled the world with his family for 6 months, asking entrepreneurs from all cultures questions about leadership, culture, and managing people.
David concluded afterward that their main competitive advantage was their people. And it’ll be the same with your company.