Employee Feedback – Choice or Chore?

The standout problem with a lot of employee surveys these days is that they are carried out too infrequently.  I have discussed this before on the blog and while I don’t want to go over old ground, I've been thinking lately about how colleagues interact with different types of surveys and whether they feel pressured to complete and the subsequent impact on their views.

Annual Surveys

We’ve all been there (well, most of us have).  It gets to a certain time of the year and talk about employee engagement starts to rise, maybe your managers are huddled in conference rooms.  Why?  Because in a short time all colleagues will be asked to tell their bosses about life on the front line and their bosses will be asked to get a good response rate, no pressure there then!

In reality, the immense pressure placed on managers and colleagues to get engagement just right forges an unhealthy relationship with feedback, completely missing the point about why the feedback was important to the business in the first place.

Like many things in business – engagement is often about the number. 

1.       Response Rate (anything less than 80% and you will probably feel like you have failed)

2.       Engagement Score (50+ is usually the bare minimum expectation)

For me, businesses are missing a huge point here.  While so much focus is placed on achieving a number you remove two things from the results

1.       Choice

It’s not the colleagues choice to complete the survey – it’s their duty.  They know that if they don’t complete they will probably be asked why, no one wants that awkward conversation.  So they complete out of obligation and that is a chore.

2.       Reliability

The pressure on managers and colleagues ultimately means that the manager will be going to extraordinary lengths to get a good result – take time out from work, have a cup of tea and a biscuit, whatever you want just fill this in and say nice stuff (if you want).

Not really guaranteed to get you honesty – but will get you a tick in a box.

Is there a different way?

Of course there is.  I read great stories every day about businesses going above and beyond to get a true view of engagement.  And a large proportion of these stories are based around ‘pulse surveys’  an interim check up to see how colleagues are feeling.  Sometimes monthly, occasionally weekly and rarely daily.

Regular Employee Feedback

What’s the difference?  Well a more regular view of satisfaction creates a different perspective for the colleague.  A feeling that their view is vital throughout the year, not just when there’s a target to hit.  It feels more sincere and genuine.

Another huge benefit for businesses is the instant knowledge if something isn’t quite right.  As a manager information is power and if you knew that lots of colleagues were upset about the brand of coffee or the cleanliness of the bathrooms you could act, quickly and decisively, crediting the team for raising the issue and enabling a resolution.  There is an increase in engagement right there.  Colleague gives feedback, action is taken promptly.  ‘right, I’ll give feedback next time they ask’

What difference does daily feedback make?  It addresses one key point missing in most employee feedback programmes.  CHOICE.

By having a feedback method available all the time for colleagues you instantly make that feedback a choice.  By not focussing on the number of responses but instead focusing on the action you give the feedback credibility.  By involving the team in action planning, celebrating success and problem solving you create a trusting loop of genuine, honest, open feedback.

What could be better than that?


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