What’s expected of the workplace is drastically changing, and a lot of that comes down to company culture.
Millennials-- who are notorious flight risks when it comes to trying to maintain a high employee retention rate-- consider the culture of a company to be one of the most important factors when determining if they want to accept or stay at a job. And this isn’t just in theory; Millennials are willing to shave an average of $7600 per year off their salary if they’re able to find a job that will provide a better work environment for them.
More employees than ever before are wanting to find jobs where they can feel like they’re actually contributing something and making a difference, and company culture is where you can make that happen.
Encouraging employee feedback is going to be particularly valuable when you want to increase employee engagement, attract top talent, and keep said talent. In this post, we’re going to look at exactly what a feedback culture is, why it matters, and the specific steps you can take today to start implementing it.
First: A workplace culture essentially defines the personality of your company and it will determine the average employee’s experience there. Some workplaces will be militant and strict, some will be a little cold and unforgiving. Some may prioritize stability while others are bursting to grasp at new innovations.
A feedback culture prioritizes employee feedback, transparency and communication. Employees at all levels are encouraged to share ideas and feedback up and down the workplace food chain. An entry level worker, for example, should be able to go to their boss and explain why they feel a procedure is hindering them and at least know that they’ll be taken seriously and respected.
Right now, feedback cultures are a big focus in business management, and that’s because they’re directly tied to increased employee trust, employee satisfaction and engagement rates, lower employee churn rights, and improved growth and innovation.
If you’ve ever worked in an entry-level position for a large corporation where decisions where exclusively coming from the top down, you’ve likely experienced why employee feedback can be so vital.
When I worked as a salesperson, for example, corporate mandated that we only process sales through new tablets they provided the stores to make us seem “high tech,” but the tablets didn’t work. We actually lost sales because people got tired of waiting for a POS system that was never going to work, but corporate just told us to try harder.
In a feedback culture, our complaints and concerns would have been taken seriously. The company would have realized that the technology needed to be fixed or to just let us continue the way we were, and they wouldn’t have lost sales and employees due to frustration.
When you’re incorporating a flow of employee feedback into your culture, you’ll be able to avoid mistakes like this. You’ll be able to hear new ideas and thoughts from the people who your decisions are impacting, which is important because not everything always goes to plan. This improves feelings of trust and transparency, which are vital for employee engagement and lower churn rates.
Employee retention rates are relatively low compared to what they’ve been historically. More people than ever are switching up positions regularly, looking for greener pastures in the form of higher raises, more benefits, and a company work culture that allows them to feel valued and accomplished. And when they feel valued and accomplished, they’re less likely to look for a new job and they’ll be more productive (and profitable).
That last part is important, because employees who don’t feel as if they can provide upwards feedback (or feedback to their managers and supervisors or higher) are 16% more likely to start looking for new jobs. And those who don’t feel appreciated or recognized in their place of work are 2x more likely to go job hunting.
Trust is also an important factor; 61% of employees feel that trust between themselves and their senior management is important for job satisfaction, but only 33% are “very satisfied” with the levels of trust in their place of work.
With all the data supporting it, it’s easy to see the value of an established employee feedback processes. If you’re ready to get started, there are four changes you should make in your organization right away to begin fostering one.
A feedback culture doesn’t just happen overnight. While some managers have processes and leadership styles that naturally fit into a feedback culture, others like to have it my-way-or-the-highway and may need a little bit of recalibration.
Train your management to request and act on employee feedback. You can give them examples of when they should be doing this, or how to encourage the flow of feedback. Ensuring that they’re asking for input at the end of meetings or to request ideas when discussing projects is a good start.
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This will take some time to implement fully because it can take some getting used to, but having the right systems in place can help. Have a set time where your management can take the feedback to those above them to ensure that there’s a chance it’s considered and acted on if appropriate.
A tool like Fellow.app can help managers and reports exchange continuous feedback.
Some people will always be uncomfortable sharing difficult feedback that your company needs to hear. If they don’t hear about a leader who is belittling or micromanaging, for example, they can’t solve the problem, and they’ll likely lose multiple workers because of it.
To counteract this problem, you can use anonymous feedback and suggestion tools that are designed to evaluate employee satisfaction and look for issues in the workplace. This is where people are more likely to be honest about major problems within your corporation they may not otherwise feel safe discussing.
A few great examples of tools you can use include:
For a true feedback culture, your team should get to voice their opinions, even on the small stuff. This can admittedly get complicated the larger your business gets; while it’s easy to get five people to agree on where to go to lunch, for example, imagine trying to get 20 people on the same page.
Tools that allow employees to voice their opinions will therefore streamline the process and make your job much easier while ensuring they’re still being heard. Hoppier, for example, has an employee portal that allows your team to request specific items (including their favorite snacks or pens!) that they want to see coming in the next month’s subscription box.
Something as small as getting someone’s favorite chips or paper clips that don’t break too easily can actually go a long way, so consider all the ways employee feedback can be incorporated into your company.
If you really want to implement a feedback culture (instead of just sometimes asking for ideas), you’re going to need to incorporate the feedback loop into company processes. This ensures that it’s well ingrained within your company culture, even if some managers aren’t as naturally inclined to encourage or receive feedback.
During your employee’s annual reviews, for example, have your leaders provide both praise and feedback, and then ask individuals privately (and one-on-one) what they’d like to see improved within the company. Normally reviews are only going one way, but this is a chance to show each employee that you care and get great feedback, too.
Transparency is a core component of a feedback culture, so this needs to be fostered intentionally, especially since a large majority of employees feel that there is a lack of transparency in their place of work.
It goes without saying that full transparency isn’t necessary; keeping salary information confidential, for example, has its merits. That being said, being as open as possible about why business changes are being made and how they’ll impact your team are essential.
Let’s say that you need to cut overtime requests so that you can stay on budget; if you don’t, you’ll have to let go of a few members of the team. People may be frustrated if they hear that you want to cut overtime, thinking it’s just a money grab, but will be a lot more understanding if they know this is what keeps people from losing their jobs all together-- especially if theirs was on the line.
Bring this into the feedback reception process, too. If you can’t take a suggestion from an employee, try to explain why instead of just shooting them down. Thank them for the idea, and encourage them to bring more to you.
Right now, employment opportunities can be competitive, but if you want the very top talent then you need to be implementing a strong company culture that attracts high-performing, self-motivated individuals. Facilitating effective employee feedback systems is the way to go, and it will benefit your company significantly.
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