Key to creating a positive, productive work environment is collecting feedback from your employees – the very people who form the lifeblood of your organization and whose opinions and attitudes determine its success. However, many companies find that gathering such feedback is easier said than done.
Despite the creation of seemingly ideal web-based surveys – a giant leap forward from old-fashioned paper-based surveys – the results of employee surveys often fail to meet expectations. Research from Deloitte found that 64 percent of companies conduct some form of employee engagement survey, but that same report asserts such survey models have fallen behind, unable to meet the demands of a highly inclusive, empowered work environment. The fact is that companies struggle to get employees to participate in such surveys, and when these surveys are conducted on the typical annual basis, the information gleaned from them is too little, too late. By the time problems are discovered in the survey results, the issues have likely already worsened, making a timely response impossible.
To truly spur engagement and drive positive change, companies must develop new ways to gather employee feedback every day, creating more robust employee experiences.
Translating the Candidate Experience to the Employee Experience
Companies today spend enormous amounts of resources and attention on their recruiting and onboarding processes. Consider how the recruiting function benefits from the latest advancements in technology, like machine learning and algorithms to find the best candidates and provide them with the red carpet treatment. Organizations like Talent Board have greatly illuminated the importance of the candidate experience, offering a glimpse at how thousands of candidates feel about their experiences applying to various companies.
However, all the passion for gathering feedback throughout the candidate experience and onboarding process dissipates once those individuals become employees. Instead of working to engage employees and show them that their opinions are valued, employers typically provide workers with rudimentary and irrelevant feedback tools like the annual engagement survey. With Gallup showing that only 32 percent of employees are engaged, it is clear we need a new approach to employee engagement.
One such new approach, and perhaps the best, is to get insights from employees more frequently. Keep in mind that employees increasingly expect their opinions to be taken seriously. They want access to feedback tools that survey traditional employee engagement issues while also taking into consideration variances in job types, facilities, and industries. Taking a blanket approach to employee surveys and asking the entire workforce the same questions may alienate certain groups if the questions are irrelevant to their jobs. Remember that those employees who work in the field most of the day, like construction workers or any others who don't sit in front of computers, have valuable opinions that are just as important as the opinions of other workers.
The Right Approach to Understanding Employees
Employees have a lot to say, and that information can be crucial to driving company-wide improvement. The challenge lies in giving them the platform to voice their feelings and opinions and ensuring that their voices are listened to and concerns addressed.
With that in mind, the right employee feedback strategy should:
1. Give Employees a Means of Providing Feedback
Typical annual engagement surveys make it impossible to uncover the issues that lead to larger problems. Any information gained presents a backward-looking view of what went wrong, rather than a forward-looking approach to make things right. On the other hand, collecting feedback on a daily basis will alert you to any potential challenges and enable you to address them immediately.
2. Make It Convenient to Give Feedback
Emailing employees daily survey questions doesn't work; it's just more filler in their inboxes that they are likely to ignore. Finding more engaging and interactive avenues for employee feedback, like via mobile devices or physical kiosks in the office, can help drive participation. A mobile solution is especially important for companies that employ remote workers, as it allows them to ensure the voices of "on-the-road" and otherwise distributed employees are heard and valued equally.
3. Keep Feedback Anonymous
One-on-one conversations between employees and managers can deliver valuable insights, but these conversations are often random and undocumented. Furthermore, employees may hold back from giving honest feedback when face to face with their superiors. When employees can share opinions anonymously, on the other hand, they are more likely to offer truthful insights the company needs to hear.
4. Provide Actionable Information
Key to leveraging employee feedback effectively is tracking and analyzing the insights contained in said feedback. The right platform should provide immediate data to both management and employees themselves, creating an open environment where employees know their opinions matter and improvements are made every day.
5. Keep Employees Engaged
An effective employee feedback strategy is one in which employees are eager to participate. To prevent survey fatigue, it is important to vary the topics and ensure they are relevant to various employee groups and/or regions. Instead of making each question about the company, change things up by asking about current events, the industry in general, or other topical subjects. Doing so will keep the system meaningful and fun, thereby sustaining engagement.
At a time when organizations are investing heavily in perfecting their recruiting practices, it is crucial that employers continue to solicit feedback and foster great experiences even after candidates have become employees. The best way to do so is to engage your teams with relevant survey questions each day and use their valuable feedback to continually enhance the employee experience.
Joseph Sullivan launched Vohtr with the goal of forever changing how companies collect and act upon employee feedback.