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What is Employee Feedback?

What is Employee Feedback?

Employee feedback is information exchanged between members of a company about job performance. This is a pretty broad area including, but not limited to:

  • Informally telling a coworker they did a good job on a project
  • Annual workplace surveys
  • Regular performance reviews

All feedback is important, as it keeps management on top of concerns and helps maintain productivity among workers. Keeping a healthy flow of information about performance affects many aspects of your company, from overall employee engagement to your overall brand as an employer.

Receiving Feedback from Employees

There’s a few ways that feedback can go up the chain, but they all serve a similar purpose: helping management up to the c-suite stay in touch with how employees of all levels are doing. The two most common methods are online employee reviews and workplace surveys.

What are Online Employee Reviews?

Online employee reviews are from employees, past and present, published on external feedback sites like Indeed. There’s a persistent myth that reviews are only left by disgruntled employees – this could not be further from the truth! It’s important to apprehend these reviews with a word of caution as they can be biased from an unfair experience.

However, most public reviews are positive, which helps in recruiting top talent. According to Glassdoor, 83% of potential candidates report looking at company reviews as part of deciding where to apply. These reviews aren’t just useful for candidates, but they’re useful in monitoring your employer brand, and could surface concerns that may not come up elsewhere.

What are Workplace Surveys?

Workplace surveys are series of questionnaires for employees to address their concerns about company structure and management. There are many kinds of internal surveys, but the most used is frequent pulse surveys. This gives you very wide-reaching information in a predictable manner – you ask a question and you’ll get a response in a fashionable time. It’s a lot more consistent than waiting for people to reach out or post an online review.

Although internal surveys like frequent pulses favor time, we’ve found that the most useful information comes from long form responses. You can gain a great deal of information from reading a review that says something to the effect of:

"I like working at Company X. It's a collaborative environment, so I'm able to work with different departments and develop career growth across the company. The pay and culture are also both great. The company meets industry average pay, and the office culture is very friendly. My coworkers are very supportive and push for growth. Great medical benefits, but I wish some of the health insurance covered mental health needs. Keep up the great work, Company X!"

There’s more value in responses like these than using the 1-10 rating method, because it is detailed in every aspect of their concern. A rating scale won’t give you enough feedback to address any changes that need to be made in order to keep the office happy.

Responding to Employee Feedback

If you have direct reports, or even informally lead others, you probably have experience in giving feedback some way. Giving effective feedback is not a skill that comes naturally to a lot of people, but it can be a learned skill. Addressing feedback is important, but it’s also vital to format in a way that leads to improvement and satisfaction. Here are some tips we’ve learned that will help with the responding process:

Constructive Criticism

The most effective feedback is not personal – it’s based on performance. People can’t control the kind of person they are, but they can control their actions. The purpose of constructive criticism is to help correct performance to enhance growth in their role through coaching and asking proper questions to foster learning. It’s important to offer well-reasoned responses in a friendly manner without wreaking havoc.

Don’t Wait for the Scheduled Time

If you’d like someone to change negative behavior, or reward positive behavior, don’t wait until your next scheduled review. If you want something to continue, why wait? There’s a possibility that they didn’t realize it was good, so they wouldn’t do it again. The other, potentially far worse, side of the coin is not addressing remarks immediately. This could cause a domino effect and lead to even worse issues down the line. It’s key to address positive or negative behavior at any given time.

Be Nice

Do your best to frame everything in a relatively positive light, and couch negative feedback in some positive notes. According to the Harvard Business Review, general feedback allows employees to notice what's right and wrong, but framing is essential to help focus on what works to support development. Our brain has what’s known as a primacy/recency bias – what gets said first and last in a list is most remembered, so it’s often helpful to end on a high note rather than a downer.

Putting it Into Practice

Constructive, timely feedback presented in a positive manner takes some practice to get right. Here’s an ideal example of what that might look like:

Hi John. Thanks for your contribution to project Y last month! I think you did a great job in scheduling meetings between us and the client, ensuring that we have strong communication throughout and capable of getting both teams to work together. You were great at answering client questions and building trust. I think it’d be great if you could contribute more to the initial phases of brainstorming marketing ideas to future projects in the pipeline. I’d love to see you do more of this to help enhance your creative skills.

This type of feedback will be more likely to encourage employees like John to take part and overall be a more engaged employee.

Why Does Employee Feedback Matter?

Employee feedback matters because it affects nearly every aspect of your company. Your company operates almost entirely thanks to the employees, so making sure they’re happy and performing as best as they can is a must. It affects some areas more dramatically than others, but it impacts how engaged your employees are, and how your brand as an employer is perceived.

Feedback and Employee Engagement

Constructive feedback is an effective way to improve employee engagement – how connected employees are with their organization and role. Feedback evaluation is a major part of enhancing that connection by maintaining open communications, ensuring employees get the recognition they deserve, and helping them with career development.

Feedback and Employer Branding

We’ve talked at length before about how your employer brand is tied closely to the feedback your company receives online – we are big proponents of the worth of employee reviews. In short: any feedback your company receives on its public Glassdoor or Indeed profile makes up the majority of content potential employees will see about your company. This affects whether talented candidates will apply.

Making sure you have an effective open line of communication between employee and management is integral to the continued success of your company. Whichever avenue you pursue to get that feedback doesn’t really matter – almost all feedback is useful in some way, either to the employees or to their managers.

Preparing to change compensation at your company? Read this first.
What Drives Glassdoor Company Ratings?
Published by Tom Aberman April 17, 2020
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