According to mogul Richard Branson (among other business experts) the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers. It stands to reason then, if you have happy employees, you will have happy customers. Giving employees an opportunity to provide feedback will help you understand what your employees need to be content in the workplace. But just giving them an opportunity to provide feedback doesn’t mean they will. Sometimes, you have to find ways to encourage them to do so. Here are 5 great ways to encourage employee feedback.
1. Create a confidential tip line
While getting positive feedback is always pleasant, it’s actually negative feedback that if often the most valuable. In order to create a great working environment for your employees, you need to know what it is not working. Many times, however, employees will fear offering negative feedback due to potential blowback from supervisors or coworkers. While you don’t necessarily have to believe every piece of feedback that is received anonymously, it is always worth carefully investigating – particularly when you receive the same information from more than one source.
2. Meet with lower level employees
All too often, companies adhere to a strict hierarchy in meetings, with lower level employees only meeting with their direct supervisors and those supervisors meeting with theirs. By higher level executives meeting regularly with lower level employees, they can better keep their finger on the pulse of what is really going on in the trenches.
3. Use surveys
Surveys are a great way to quickly get information about what your employees want without wasting the time of having a meeting. In addition, when you hold a meeting, the opinions of some may end up holding sway over others. Surveys are generally more confidential and encourage people to not only be honest, but also allow them to hold to their own initial opinion. In some cases, options can also be added that may have not originally been included that can actually be a better choice for the group. Surveys can be used for something as simple as what employees would like to see stocked in the employee break room to slightly more complex surveys like what they would like to see more or less of in benefits packages.
4. Give exit interviews
There is possibly no other time when an employee is likely to be more honest than when they are leaving. While many employees may not want to burn their bridges, they also may be more willing to provide valuable information when they no longer have to face their coworkers every day or face potential blowback from their superiors. Not only can exit interviews provide a treasure trove of information if you make them a standard practice, but by making them a standard practice you also encourage better behavior from managers and supervisors who know exiting employees have much more freedom to be honest.
5. Establish a peer nominated recognition program
While having supervisors nominate employees for recognition is great, it doesn’t necessarily result in the most valuable information. In addition, who supervisors recommend for recognition can be very different from whom employees do. Not only does getting employee feedback give you a chance to identify your star employees, it also gives you a chance to see who is not getting praise or recognition and find out why. In some cases, it may simply be you have an employee that is performing poorly that you might not have otherwise been aware of, but in other cases the issue might actually be with the other employees. As much as we might like to think that bullying and cliques are behaviors that end in high school, they generally don’t. Establishing a peer nominated employee recognition program can help you understand the social dynamics in the workplace that might be affecting performance.
Getting feedback from your employees is critical for the success of your business, but it can also be difficult to obtain. Just remember that whatever feedback you get is always going to be “tainted” in some way by an individual’s perspective. While the feedback in and of itself is important, also be careful how you interpret it when you get it.
by: Mikkie Mills