Leading employers hold transparency as a key organizational value. But how can companies collect better feedback from their employees in ways that are not only effective for the company, but easy for employees to open up and respond?
One tip: It starts and ends with listening.
Suzanne Lucas, who runs the blog Evil HR Lady, says if you want employees to give you feedback you have to do two things: shut up and listen. And that goes for feedback you’re getting in a one on one or through an employee survey.
“If you interrupt and defend yourself, you'll rapidly find out that no one is willing to say anything to you,” says Lucas. “But, listening is more than just not talking. You need to actually consider what they are saying and make changes. If you never change anything, no matter how much you say you want feedback, you won't get any.”
But you can’t listen until you get the feedback you need. So here are a few tips on to get more valuable feedback from your employees.
- Try Personalized Micro Surveys
Short surveys personalized for individual employees is a great way to get feedback without overwhelming your employees. Start with a touchpoint thanking an employee (by name) who, for example, just took a training and ask three quick questions. Rather than one large, sweeping year-end survey, this “micro survey” garners a response for something that just happened, that’s fresh in the employee’s mind. Additionally, the way you deliver it makes it quick and easy for the employee to take a few minutes to respond.
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- Collect Feedback on the Management Level
Look to your managers to help collect feedback. Employees are more likely to respond to a manager’s request than an email from human resources. Managers can send short surveys to their direct reports, talk to them in 1:1 meetings and in team building sessions.
- Consider a Suggestion Box
It may seem old school, but a simple suggestion box where an employee can give feedback anonymously is a good way to capture that information from someone skeptical of you finding out who they are, for whatever reason. Just be sure you are checking the box regularly.
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- Face-to-Face Check-ins
Nothing can beat 1:1 time with an employee. Having regular one-on-one meetings with individual employees is a great way to open the lines of communication. Plus, having that regular interaction doesn’t allow potential issues to fester, as they might if you only meet as needed and go long stretches of time without meeting individually with the people who work for you.
- Have An Open Door Policy
Let your employees know you’re there for them. Having an open door policy where your employees can pop in and chat helps them feel comfortable to approach you with any issues or concerns that may arise. The more open to feedback you appear, the more transparency becomees engrained in your company culture.
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- Company Wide or Town Hall Meetings
A company wide meeting, whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually is a great place to gather employee feedback. Have employees submit questions anonymously ahead of the meeting to be addressed by company leaders in this forum. Oftentimes these are questions someone may not feel comfortable asking in public, but they can spark further discussion from employees in attendance which helps bring issues (and solutions) to light.
- Get Out and Walk Around
Managers today who still adopt a piece of Peter Drucker’s management theory to “walk around” may be one of the best ways to get better feedback. You’re seeing people in action. Talking to them in their workspace (in their office or cubicle). This gives you the opportunity to proactively initiate the conversation instead of asking people to come to you.