How to use employee feedback to improve workplace experience
What’s working for employees at your company and what isn’t? The best way to find out is to ask them. Gathering employee feedback on their workplace experience and on your company culture is the first step toward creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
But collecting data is just the first stage. Companies then need to use these insights to enact meaningful change. While establishing core values is important, if they aren’t put into action so your workforce can engage with them, then those initiatives, unfortunately, won’t succeed.
In this blog, you’ll learn how your company can effectively collect feedback from your employees and address your findings by implementing lasting changes to create a more positive work environment.
Why collecting employee feedback is important
Sarah Deane, founder of effect UX, helps organizations translate complex data and extensive research into actionable strategies to improve workplace cultures. The goal is to cultivate a work environment with strong emotional, mental, and behavioral wellbeing, which in turn produces higher levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, and workplace productivity.
When workplaces collect targeted, anonymous feedback through an employee engagement survey, they’re gathering valuable data about team members’ personal experience working at the company. This is an important benchmark for discovering what people actually think and feel about working at the organization.
For example, a company might list “inclusivity” as one of its core values, but through an employee engagement survey, it might discover that some groups of employees feel railroaded or gaslighted. If this is the case, the company needs to make tangible changes to reshape its work culture so everyone truly feels included and empowered.
Employee engagement survey best practices
When deciding what questions to include in your annual employee engagement survey, be strategic about what you want to learn and keep it short. A study found that engagement surveys that take longer than 7 or 8 minutes to complete have a 20% abandon rate. If your goal is to gain deeper insight into your employees’ workplace experience and company culture, make sure your questions are targeted to these topics. Additionally, by including questions about employees’ experience of your company’s core values, you can learn if your organization is living up to its ideals.
Communicate the benefit of the engagement survey to all employees –– before it’s sent out. Let everyone know that managers are on board and that management will be proactive in implementing changes as a result of the findings. In other words, let employees know why you’re collecting this information and instill trust that you’ll take their feedback seriously and will make real changes based on the results.
Other tips include:
- Tell employees you’re aiming for a 100% response rate and while the survey is open, and regularly report the completion percentage for each department. This can help drive survey participation through a bit of friendly, interdepartmental competition.
- Ensure anonymity and let employees know the survey is a safe place to be completely honest. In order to maintain anonymity, strip any identifying personal information from results before sharing them with managers.
After all the data is in, be transparent about the results and share the high-level findings with the entire company. Lastly, make positive changes based on the data you’ve gathered and communicate this to all employees.
How to implement feedback to improve workplace experience
The purpose of employee engagement surveys is to benchmark the current company culture and then to put feedback into action in order to improve the work environment. However, there’s widespread cynicism among many employees who don’t believe their company will actually implement changes based on survey results. One study found that 29% of employees thought that employee engagement surveys were pointless and 80% of employees didn’t believe their manager would act on survey results.
Unfortunately, they’re not wrong. The same study found that 27% of managers didn’t review the survey results at all and over half (52%) of managers reviewed the results but didn’t take any action. This is disappointing because it shows a disconnect between the good intention behind conducting the survey and the lack of action.
Gathering feedback from employees takes considerable financial and time resources. So how can your organization make the most of data-driven feedback to improve your company culture?
Here are a couple of examples of specific ways companies can take employee feedback on board to make positive changes to your workplace experience.
Employee feedback: Lack of focus space
Imagine your company has an open office plan and employees have communicated that there aren’t enough quiet spaces to focus. The company can:
- Acknowledge this concern, clearly communicate to the entire company that you are working to create dedicated focus spaces and in the meantime, offer options for temporary focus spaces.
- Creative solutions for improving this common problem could include installing phone cubicles so people have a private space for calls that won’t disturb their teammates.
- The company could create a quiet, hot desk area, invest in noise-canceling headphones, or encourage people to work from home when they need to focus—all of which can help boost workplace productivity.
Employee feedback: Unaware of career development opportunities
Employees have expressed interest in career development but don’t know what opportunities are available. Indeed, many companies have career development opportunities available but haven’t done a good job telling their employees about them.
If your company has this issue:
- Communicate that you’re committed to offering professional growth opportunities and schedule a webinar or all-company meeting to go over the details.
- Ensure everyone is aware of what’s on offer and improve access with an online resource that summarizes these opportunities.
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