The cornerstone of employee engagement: Feedback

Understanding the importance of employee engagement has naturally brought one of its most important triggers to the agenda: Feedback.  In environments where feedback is healthy, uninterrupted and timely, harmony between leaders and teams is realized.  Problems are solved without causing inadequate and costly errors.  As the organizational structure provides good listeners, trust, satisfaction and engagement also increase.   In short, employee engagement finds the soil for getting rooted. 

In organizations with a feedback culture, employees have a ground to voice their thoughts, suggestions, concerns, and satisfaction.   Employees who know how their managers and teammates perceive them are much more willing to adapt to change.

The evolution of feedback

Not more than only 10-15 years ago, institutions that tried to build a culture of feedback were innovative and often large-scale international companies. Over the past 10 years, the importance of achieving and retaining talent has become apparent. Baby Boomers are coming of age, and it becomes clear that the expectations of the next generation of employees are almost diametrically opposed to those of the old.  While the older generation of employees, who are modest, see work as a life purpose and tend to keep their jobs in their hands, perhaps for the first time in history, the necessity of retaining employees has emerged.  As intertwined concepts such as employee experience, satisfaction, and engagement began to strengthen, sub-components became apparent.

At all times, wages and benefits were important, yes, but the value given to culture and development began to stand out. This is how the process that puts feedback ahead of all existing components came about.

Only through the feedback culture would it be possible to measure the employee’s perception of all other components and take the necessary actions. At the point reached today, it is possible to learn the real-time feelings, thoughts and concerns of employees with the support of technology. This information is critical for planning actions to improve performance and productivity.

Basic steps to create a feedback culture

All team leaders and management teams, especially HR teams, can ensure that an organization acquires a strong feedback culture over time by following these three basic steps:

• Gather real-time feedback.

• Share all data and insights with relevant team leaders in a timely manner

• Empower employees and managers to act on this information.

Real-time feedback is a must in the age of fast communication.   Organizations have finally realized that annual employee engagement surveys or 360-degree feedback processes cannot keep up with the change in employee feelings and thoughts.  It is obvious that hundreds of survey questions that are “mandatory” to be answered and sometimes even known by whom they are filled out do not reveal the real picture. Today, all management teams accept that the wave of world-wide “Great Resignation” or “Great Change” began to occur long before the pandemic.

Today, feedback is continuous and real-time.

Awareness of gathering feedback is increasing

Research shows that organizations are increasingly evaluating the feedback of their employees. Innovative and human-centred institutions analyze the feelings and thoughts of employees at least once every three months.

Studies also show that organizations that regularly listen to employee feedback and act accordingly are three times more likely to achieve or exceed their financial goals than those that do not.

Another very important result is that organizations that act on regular employee feedback are 11 times more likely to retain their employees than others.

We divide institutions into 3 according to their feedback routines:

In the traditional approach, people management departments usually conduct one or at most two surveys per year. The responses received are categorized for use in the HR department’s work and often remain as data. However, these data are not open for discussion, and deep analyses are not carried out that will lead to changes in behaviour and action.

Institutions that receive feedback when necessary are those that collect feedback in advance of events and issues that may be a public offering, merger or milestone. Managers are encouraged, but not required, to take action in response to employee feedback. This causes most actions to remain HR-centric.

Innovators, on the other hand, benefit from feedback at every moment of the corporate lifecycle. More importantly, advanced analytics are used to understand the relationships between this data and other business data.

They use all kinds of active and passive listening channels effectively, as well as conduct surveys. These data are the basis for business decisions. The management team administers the strategy together with HR. Leaders and managers at all levels are responsible for understanding and acting on feedback, and sharing results with employees.

The actions are spread throughout the organization. In this approach, employees feel that their feedback is valuable, they see the effects of their reactions, and therefore feel themselves more important and loyal.

We live in a time when we have every means to listen to each other and to the world. There are a lot of communication channels, and many of them are very functional. The information that you will hear and be surprised during the exit interviews, and say “I wish it had been talked about beforehand” is as close to you as you can get right now. All you have to do is choose what type of listener you are or want to be.