5 crucial questions to ask before your next staff survey

Gathering employee feedback about your internal culture, work protocols and external dealings is all well and good, but unless they get feedback on their feedback, it’s a waste of time.

We human beings like feedback.

Though positive feedback is more fun than negative, both kinds helps shape who we are, what we do and how we do things.

Still, companies aren’t asking for feedback from the most important resource—employees.

Per a report from Medallia, a company that specializes in capturing feedback, two out of five employees say they aren’t being asked for feedback at all.

Communicators give an array of reasons for a broken employee feedback system: It’s costly, it’s cumbersome, or there’s not enough time. Those sound more like excuses to me. Employee feedback is too valuable and technology is too great not to develop effective feedback systems.

More than gathering staff input

Capturing the feedback is just the first step. What will you do with it once you have it? You must provide answers. Those two out of five who have invested time and shared their ideas, how do they know anything is being done with their feedback? Communicators must complete the loop.

Who’s better off: those employees who get asked for feedback but never hear the results or those employees who aren’t asked in the first place? The answer is neither.

Here’s advice from Julia Markish at Medallia: “Only ask what you can act upon.”

What does it mean to “act” on feedback? What does closing the loop look like? Here’s a checklist:

  • Is the feedback you’re requesting tied to business goals, vision and values? If so, then you should be able to act.
  • Is it simply “nice to know” information? If so, it will be nice to know your employees probably won’t provide feedback, unless it’s fun.
  • Does the feedback interest your leaders? If they don’t care about the feedback or what it represents, then it’s probably not worth pursuing.
  • Do you have a way to close the loop? How will employees know their feedback matters. It’s up to communicators to provide the follow-up, whether directly to employees or to their managers.
  • What happens if you ask for feedback and get it—lots of it? You must be prepared to handle the volume of feedback, even if it comes from hundreds or thousands of voices.

To take it a step further, let employees see their feedback live. If they’ve answered a multiple-choice question, show them the data of what their co-workers said. It’s not quite instant gratification, but it’s context for their feedback.

In the communications game, anytime you can add context to content, you’re ahead. Maybe they want to be notified of the results, via email or push notification. That helps to close the loop for them, too.

Communicators play a pivotal role in giving employees a voice in feedback systems, and employees want to know that their voices are heard and their opinions matter.

A version of this post first appeared on Bananatag’s blog.


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