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The importance of getting feedback from our employees

The importance of getting feedback from our employees

When it comes to two-way communication, what is true in our personal lives is true in business - effective communication is as much about listening as it is speaking.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship (of any description, be it platonic, familial, or romantic) with someone who talks but doesn’t listen, you’ll know how frustrating and unhealthy it can be. Relationships within employment are no different.


If we want our people to feel that they are valued and truly belong, and if we want them to have a proper sense of psychological safety at work, and if we want to maximise their productivity, creativity, innovation, teamwork, commitment and loyalty, then we need to ask them how they feel about things, and ask them for their suggestions and feedback. And, just as importantly, we need to act upon it.

And yet, as we reported last August, only just over half of respondents to an IC Index survey said their organisation welcomed open and honest feedback. And even fewer said they are shown how their feedback results in action.


There are many ways to nurture a culture of healthy, two-way communication, and a really robust internal comms plan will employ several of these. You can read our top ten suggestions for how to do this effectively here.


For this blog, I want to focus on three really powerful tools for inviting and collecting feedback from our people. Obviously, all comms strategies should be bespoke, and tailored to our individual organisations, but we believe that the three tools we’re looking at here would benefit most organisations.

Listening to employees


1.    The annual survey


The first of these should sound familiar – the (sometimes dreaded) annual staff survey. Surely every company runs these, don’t they? Well, actually, no. Sadly, they don’t. And some that do, do it only as a perfunctory, rather meaningless exercise, primarily so that someone from HR or the SLT can say they’ve done it.


The annual staff survey should provide a platform for all employees to voice their opinions, raise their concerns and share their suggestions. It should boost engagement and demonstrate the value you place on their feedback and input.


These surveys can also help to identify recurring issues or significant challenges that are being faced across the organisation. Whether it's concerns about communication, workload, or company culture, surveys can pinpoint areas that need improvement. Armed with insights from staff surveys, leaders can implement targeted changes to address issues and improve the work environment. This demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and can lead to increased productivity and efficiency.


Running annual surveys properly will boost morale, build trust, and help organisations align their people with their missions, values, and goals. Through this, they can also help with talent retention. Engaged and satisfied employees are more likely to stay with their organisation. By addressing concerns and making improvements based on survey feedback, we can reduce turnover and retain our top talent.


But surveys need to be written carefully to ensure they are current, relevant, and asking the right questions. We should be enquiring about job satisfaction, workload and work/life balance, perceived opportunities for training, growth and development, and alignment with mission and values.


We should be asking our people to evaluate the internal comms they receive and the usefulness of their team meetings. We should be gathering feedback on their perceptions of leadership effectiveness, including communication skills, decision-making, and support for personal development, as well as their managers' availability, approachability, and ability to address employee concerns.


We should, of course, collect feedback on how they find their physical workplace, environment, and equipment, from amenities to tech’ to health and safety and ergonomics. And we should place a healthy emphasis on wellbeing.


A good survey will probably contain a mixture of multiple-choice questions, sliding-scale responses, and open-ended questions with free text boxes for qualitative feedback.


Most importantly, have you shown your audience how you made changes based on the last survey? If your people don’t think their feedback has any impact, they’ll stop bothering. And they’ll stop caring. And then you’re in real trouble. It’s vitally important that we show how feedback is listened to and acted upon. A “You Said, We Did” feature can work wonders. (And present that as a short video for extra engagement bonus points!)

Why staff surveys aren't getting a good return rate

If your internal surveys are returning a poor response rate, take a look here for some reasons why that might be, and how you can address this.


2.    Pulse Surveys


As important as the annual survey is, once-a-year isn’t going to cut it. And you certainly should never wait until your next annual survey if you have some gnawing topic that you need feedback on. Quarterly pulse surveys, usually themed to a particular topic, are a great idea for, well, keeping your finger on the pulse.


These should be much shorter than the annual survey – maybe just five questions or so – and used to supplement (not replace) the former. They should provide more frequent insights into the hotter topics of the moment. Regularly collecting feedback on these topics can help organisations quickly identify emerging issues, track progress, and make informed decisions to improve satisfaction and productivity.


Pulse surveys can cover anything from the offering in the staff canteen to current workload pressures or the organisation's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are also, of course, ideal for gauging reactions to new initiatives or recent changes.


Vevox for interactive communication

3.    Live polling and Q&As


Digital technology can open up a world of truly instant and interactive two-way communication. A platform like Vevox, for example, can provide a feedback channel to anyone who has access to a computer or smartphone.


From live polling, interactive Q&A functionality, and surveys to detailed analytics and seamless integration with the most commonly used business software and platforms, we are yet to find a simpler and more robust way to give a voice to a population.


One of Vevox’s functionalities is to offer an anonymous Q&A platform. Users’ anonymity can be switched on or off to suit the business need, and the purpose, tone and style of the session, but nothing increases participation and transparency like giving our people the opportunity to ask the questions they might otherwise be too afraid to ask, or share their most honest and candid thoughts and feelings. (If required, questions and comments can be moderated and approved by a nominated host before sharing or wider publication.)


Vevox also allows employees to “like” each other’s questions, comments, or suggestions in the style of social media posts. This allows leaders to really gauge what is on the collective minds of their teams, which views are more widely held, which suggestions are popular, or which concerns are, potentially, a wider problem.


We have frequently used this functionality during in-person and remote ‘townhalls’ and ‘Let’s Talk’ sessions with senior leadership teams, and at conferences with some of our largest clients. It provides a literal direct line to leaders to every employee with a computer, tablet, or smartphone, whether they’re in the same room (or country!) or not. It allows leaders can answer questions or respond to feedback in real time, tackling the most popular ones first. If required, these questions and answers can also be recorded and shared after the event for anyone who couldn’t make it.


Similarly, organisations can collect the insights and feedback they need though Vevox’s live polling function. Easy to create, launch, and analyse, the function is also versatile, offering multiple-choice, open text boxes, star ratings, rankings, and more advanced options like wordcloud polls and XY plots, to name but a few. Poll results can be displayed and shared instantaneously for real-time reaction and discussion, or data can also be collated and downloaded as a report afterwards for closer inspection, wider publication, and archiving. This also means that this platform is perfect for running the pulse surveys talked about it point 2, above.

Listen to your employees


In these challenging times of conscious quitting, maximising engagement and the sense of belonging across our workforce, and focusing on the employee experience we offer could not be more important. Actively listening to our people, and showing that we are listening to our people, are fundamental to that.


If your current internal comms strategy doesn’t put that kind of emphasis on active listening, then you’re risking an awful lot. And if you’re not sure that it is, why not give us a shout – we’d love to come and help you check it out.


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