Growing your business with employee feedback

In a time when there are more open positions than qualified candidates available, it is a buyer's market for those seeking quality work experience. As a result, the most talented candidates become more selective about where they work.

The perception is that you are more in need of them than they are of you.

So, how can companies create a corporate culture that attracts the very best employees and makes employee retention almost effortless?

By establishing a culture of respect, appreciation, and open communication in your organization.

In order to achieve this, employee feedback is one of the most comprehensive and sustainable methods.

Incorporating a feedback culture into your business model will provide a high return on investment for your company's most valuable resource: its employees.

What is a feedback culture?

In order to foster a productive and healthy workplace, HR managers are committed to providing the necessary support.

The traditional method of enhancing productivity by incentivizing intra-organizational competition can be demoralizing and counterproductive. Neither threats nor punitive actions are effective.

In order to instil passion and loyalty in your employees, you need to create an environment in which they feel valued rather than exploited. An employee-centric and nurturing culture must replace a culture based on numbers and output.

The feedback culture is one in which employees at all levels feel free to share feedback and constructive criticism regardless of their position within the organization.

How feedback improves business function

It is estimated that only 16% of employees are engaged and connected to their current job. There is no doubt that such a level of disengagement not only affects morale and leads to lacklustre job performance, but can also be costly in the long run.

Feedback-centric corporate cultures encourage employees to feel invested in the success of the company, leading to greater productivity. Absenteeism has been reduced, injuries are fewer, and overall morale has been improved.

To attain these benefits, however, strategies that encourage positive interaction despite negative feedback are needed, along with a roadmap for integrating feedback into measurable outcomes.

It all comes down to how you gather and process feedback, as well as where and how it is applied.

Collecting and incorporating employee feedback the smart way

An employee feedback box with a stack of forms probably comes to mind when you think of employee feedback.

This is one way to collect feedback from your staff, but it's not the only or even the best method.

An organic and sustainable engagement strategy must be woven into the fabric of your organization in a way that allows staff at every level to have agency over their work environment and encourages personal responsibility.

It may appear to be an overwhelming task, but if you know what you are doing, it is actually doable.

Listed below are some best practices that have proven successful for other organizations:

1. Employ multiple channels for feedback

Regardless of how open the culture is, some staff members are uncomfortable with one-on-one discussions or critiques. Assuring that staff members have a variety of channels through which they can provide feedback will ensure a broader range of participation.

As an alternative to the old, reliable, anonymous suggestion box, other methods of communication such as surveys, team-building exercises, and online platforms can be utilized.

2. Normalize feedback culture and processes

As long as your feedback strategy is comprehensive, it will feel more natural and organic to your employees as well as to you.

The process of giving feedback may feel uncomfortable for some managers at first, because many employees may not be familiar with it, and may even be apprehensive about it. However, when the process is normalized, it becomes as natural as any other aspect of the job.

You could, for instance, have an informal session following your monthly staff meeting where smaller groups of employees provide feedback.

3. Put an emphasis on personal responsibility

An enterprise with a hierarchy has a top-down approach. Attending sessions and addressing critical issues as soon as possible is the best way for HR managers and business leaders to demonstrate their support for the feedback and hold them accountable. This will lead to employees accepting greater personal responsibility for their role in the company's success (or failure).

At every opportunity, request feedback and show an openness to accepting it.

4. Maintain a balance between the positive and the negative

It is unlikely that all of your feedback will be critical. Nevertheless, if you only pay attention to positive feedback and become defensive over negative criticism, you will create an imbalance that is counterproductive.

Consequently, if you only provide negative feedback to your employees, it is demoralizing and will result in disengagement.

In order to balance positive and negative feedback, it is recommended to begin any discussion of performance with comments regarding how the employee excels or adds to the quality of the work.

A constructive approach should be taken whenever possible when dealing with negative feedback.

5. Create an atmosphere of trust and openness

A culture of trust and openness in the workplace will encourage your employees to provide feedback of any kind.

Assuring that employees are free to provide constructive feedback without fear of punishment or retribution should be clearly stated both in writing and in practice.

6. Maintain a continuous feedback process

Feedback should be a continuous part of your business, rather than just an annual review. By holding frequent, informal gatherings where ideas are shared, using project-based performance evaluation protocols, and maintaining an open door policy, this goal can be achieved.

Final Thoughts

The creation of a feedback culture will help employees feel more secure and valued at work. It is a way to demonstrate your appreciation for their contributions and to let them know that they matter.

In such a work environment, employees are engaged and motivated, turnover rates are reduced, morale is boosted, business processes improve across the board, and you are a more effective manager.

A happy workforce results in a happy customer. There is no reason why you should not solicit feedback from your employees; the benefits are nearly incalculable.