How to Build a Culture That Embraces Employee Feedback

When was the last time you utilized employee feedback? Your employees are on the frontlines of your business, so learn to build listening into your company culture.

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How To Build a Culture That Embraces Employee Feedback

Here's what you need to know:

  • Get leaders the training they need to understand that negative feedback isn't an attack
  • Encourage managers to solicit feedback in employee one-on-ones and department meetings
  • Provide formal feedback opportunities like quarterly satisfaction surveys or asking for feedback after a new hire completes job training
  • Ask for feedback soon after experiences happen
  • Show how employee feedback changes the culture at work

Many companies struggle with getting timely and relevant employee feedback. If workers struggle when they give feedback to managers at your organization, you could be creating an environment where employee opinions can’t thrive and make an impact.

The good news? It’s not difficult to create a standard of openness for employee opinions, ideas, and concerns. Let’s look at what you need to know to build a culture that embraces feedback and input from your workforce.

Why do you need feedback from employees?

Feedback is a critical part of the workplace experience, and it helps managers and employees perform better. It’s true for anyone: When you know what you are doing is bothering a colleague, you can make plans to address issues.

Employees are on the frontlines, talking to customers, marketing your company, and building your brand. When they come to you with feedback, you can assume it’s based on lived experiences. Experience should make employee feedback much more valuable.

Unfortunately, many employers don’t take employee feedback seriously. Responding to it is more than saying, “I hear you.” It’s about creating lasting change that employees notice in their day-to-day work.

Feedback is a critical part of the workplace experience, and it helps managers and employees perform better.

The benefits of engaging workers

According to Gallup, the current engagement rate among American workers is 36%, while active disengagement sits at 15%. In between, nearly half of all workers toe the line between engagement and disengagement.

What could you accomplish if you moved more of those workers toward full engagement? You may notice several positive benefits as a result. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with high employee engagement have:

  • Better productivity
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Reduced safety incidents at work

When companies ensure that feedback is taking place across the board, they open up their workforce to these and more benefits.

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How to encourage employee feedback

Do you want to get more feedback from employees? Here are 5 tips that will help you encourage employee input.

1. Be careful who you select to receive and respond to feedback

Not all leaders can handle employee feedback the right way. Some of your managers might not be great at workplace communication. It’s essential to slow down and ensure that everyone handling feedback can receive it without taking it personally.

When a manager reacts negatively or lashes out upon receiving feedback, it lowers employee trust in company leadership. If someone isn’t ready to take feedback and respond appropriately, ask another company leader to step in and take that information from employees. Get leaders the training they need to understand that negative feedback isn’t an attack.

2. Ask for informal feedback often

Feedback doesn’t have to be an extensive experience that leaders discuss in all-hands meetings. Informal feedback can be just as impactful and easier to act on. Encourage managers to solicit feedback in employee one-on-ones and department meetings. This feedback is invaluable to making changes that will improve employee morale quickly.

3. Utilize formal feedback opportunities

Receiving feedback that you can measure over time can have a profound impact on work.

Providing formal feedback opportunities like quarterly satisfaction surveys or asking for feedback after a new hire completes job training is essential. Receiving feedback that you can measure over time can have a profound impact on work.

If you noticed employee satisfaction has been going down in a department for three quarters in a row, you could draw deeper conclusions. Seeing one quarter of dropped scores might be a fluke, but understanding the larger context can point to a departmental problem.

Formal feedback is invaluable because it allows you to go deeper and ask questions that you can’t ask every day. With the proper rotation of formal feedback opportunities, you can keep a check on how your employees feel year-round.

4. Don’t wait if you want to collect quality feedback

Have you ever been asked how you feel about something weeks after you experienced it? It can be challenging to understand your feelings when you have time to think about a situation and lose all the details. Sometimes a quarterly or yearly retrospection is needed, but often companies should ask for feedback sooner. For example, if you are testing out a new workplace event, ask for feedback after the first event, not after you’ve done 10 of them.

5. Act on employee feedback

One of the most important tips for encouraging employee feedback is simple: Act on it. Many employees lose interest in giving feedback to managers because they realize that managers don’t take their input seriously.

As professional speaker Tim McClure famously said, “The biggest concern of any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”

If you don’t show how employee feedback changes the culture at work, your best employees will eventually stop providing input.

Once you have taken a look at the feedback and decided which changes you will make at work, close the feedback loop. Let employees know precisely how their input and wisdom will change the way work gets done. Closing that loop has a profound impact on employee trust and loyalty.

Invite company growth with relevant feedback

A company gets stronger when it’s open to employee feedback and change.

The first step to embracing employee feedback is creating space for it at work. Make sure that you give employees ample time to communicate and share their input. The next step is analyzing the information you get from employees. What are they telling you? What do they wish would change about their current work situation?

Finally, consider how you respond and act on feedback. Even if you can’t fix an issue, employees should feel comfortable coming to you if they have another problem. Your goal isn’t to create a work environment with no problems. Instead, your goal is to manage issues and make changes for the greater good of the workplace.

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