Each one of your employees has probably tweeted about something, written an online review, or engaged with a business in some way. They're already telling other organizations what they think. But are they telling you?
Probably not, and the reason why is that most employee feedback systems are antiquated, slow-moving, and not focused on the core tenets of how new technologies and systems become adopted by large user bases.
Despite how frequently we communicate, share, and break down walls that existed for generations today, employers have been slow to adapt. Companies ignore these trends at their own peril.
Their feedback processes are outdated and slow. Whereas consumers give feedback daily, most employers only ask employees what they think every 12 months – sometimes even less often. Only 4 percent of companies have continuous feedback relationships set up with their employees. Then, once the feedback comes in, it takes months to process and integrate new ideas into the system.
It's no wonder employee engagement and trust are at all-time lows. Here's what we can do to get and stay in sync with our employees:
1. Increase the Frequency of Feedback Cycles
Real-time feedback between consumers and brands occurs every day, but when's the last time you felt your company was communicating in real-time with your employees?
Unless you work at a very forward-thinking organization, chances are it's fairly rare. We need to move our external methods of doing business (how we deal with customers and customer acquisition) into our internal methods (how we deal with our own people). That will require embracing faster authentic employee feedback cycles and a more agile set of supporting tools.
2. Start and Maintain an Ongoing Dialogue
Oftentimes, companies faced with engagement or morale concerns will hire a consultancy, create an employee survey, analyze the results, present the results in an all-hands meeting, and then follow through on the results. From start to finish, that process can take almost a full calendar year, and the follow-through phase is rarely clear at the employee level.
That's not actually how the human brain works or processes events. Real-time feedback is necessary and can be achieved through a new category of employee feedback tools.
Real-time, organic communication that occurs in the employee's own voice can seem like a soft skill to someone focused on driving revenue, margin, and managing the bottom line. We understand that, but we also believe that within the next few years this real-time feedback and the alignment and speed that is derived from it will be the source of a competitive business advantage.
If you're not having this authentic dialogue every day with your people, and you're instead waiting for some survey to be analyzed, your people will continue to get impatient, their engagement will suffer, and they will ultimately leave. You'll have to find new people, which has a huge cost to your business.
3. Lead With Design
Another hallmark of the modern era has been a renewed focus on both costumer-facing product and design. Consider for example that Apple, a company that embodies these ideals for many, is poised to become the first trillion-dollar company in the next few years. At the same time, though, tools designed for internal are often clunky and have bad user interfaces.
If you want successful real-time feedback to be implemented, you need to upgrade your tools to products that your employees would want to use outside of work.
Intuitive design, as well as product marketing – which in this case would be explaining the value of the tool to your employees – needs to be at the forefront. A clunky, poorly designed tool, even with heavy top-down push for its adoption, won't be broadly accepted by your employees. Intuitive design and thoughtful internal marketing are hallmarks of wide enterprise adoption.
Instituting these tips in your business will allow you to realize the problems of your organization long before they appear on Glassdoor, which will in turn allow you to retain your best talent. These things may seem like HR's domain, and you may scoff at them because they're not explicitly revenue-facing, but as the workforce evolves, they will continue to be more and more essential to your and your organization's success.
A version of this article previously appeared on Waggl's blog.
Michael Papay is CEO and cofounder of Waggl, a real-time feedback platform that helps organizations source authentic feedback in a faster and more engaging way than a survey.