Employees spend most of their time at work — that’s why they expect to be happy doing their jobs. Happiness in the workspace is not just something employees dream of. They actively hunt down jobs that will bring them joy, even if it is at the expense of a higher paycheck.
This search for happiness in the workspace can be costly for businesses if they don’t have a strong company culture in place. Employee turnover significantly cuts into company profits.
That’s why many companies are starting to treat employees like customers. They want to earn their engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. The first step to building healthy and happy work cultures is by gathering and analyzing employee feedback.
Not all employee feedback is equal, though. Learn about the basics of employee satisfaction and how you can effectively collect, analyze, and implement employee feedback to improve satisfaction in your workplace.
Read on or use the links below to navigate to each section:
- What is Employee Satisfaction Feedback?
- Why it’s Important to Collect Employee Satisfaction Feedback
- Different Ways to Collect and Analyze Feedback
- How to Use Feedback Effectively
Employee satisfaction feedback is when employees share their perspectives on their work experiences with their leaders — with a focus on their happiness, relationships, and overall experience with their employer.
When encouraged and collected well, the feedback should provide an honest look about where leadership is succeeding and where they can improve for employee retention.
Keeping employees happy is a good goal on its own, but it’s not entirely based on good will. There’s the ROI and bottom line to consider, after all. What drives the push for gathering this type of feedback? High rates of employee churn.
Today’s market is extremely competitive and top talent can be hard to find, not to mention retain.
A recent Gallup report estimates that voluntary turnover costs American businesses $1 trillion a year. This number is based off the cost of finding a new hire to replace an employee who left the company (at least 1.5 to 2x the annual salary of the employee). This does not include all the lost costs of training that companies invested in the employee — skills that will most likely translate into their new positions elsewhere.
Some companies believe that this level of employee churn is an inherent and uncontrollable part of the economy. But this is a mistaken — and very costly — belief.
More than half of employees who voluntarily switched jobs said that their employer could have taken action to prevent them from leaving. More than half said that none of their superiors had asked them about their levels of satisfaction or future role in the company in the three months leading up to their departure.
Nobody checked in on them to see how they felt in the company — so they left.
The key to reducing employee turnover is checking in with employees to see how they feel about their role, their relationships, and the work environment. This is a good way for managers to see what motivates employees, and what their goals and expectations are from a workplace.
This is the foundation to creating a work environment that will attract and retain talent. When employees are engaged and valued, they are more likely to feel invested in a company and less likely to look for a better alternative.
Gathering employee satisfaction (and engagement) feedback is necessary to improve work culture and employee retention.
Companies gather employee satisfaction feedback to make sure their employees are engaged and satisfied. Why? It’s simple: happy employees are great for business:
Engaged employees are great for business because:
- They are more productive and take fewer days off
- They stay with the company longer
- They improve the customer experience
- They become advocates for the company
In addition to those benefits, it is great for companies to have a strong reputation of being a good employer (top talent wants the best employer). Just like consumers look up reviews of products before buying them, professionals read employer reviews. Sites like Glassdoor, Comparably, and other online publishers rank companies. Company reviews allow professionals to be selective when considering a new company to work for.
Glassdoor puts out an annual report of the top places to work. It is an honor to be put on this list because this shows talented professionals that you are who they want to work for.
Finding and retaining talent is a top priority for businesses. That’s why companies are increasingly treating employees like customers — they are giving them more personalized experiences, they are using sentiment analysis to see how they perceive the company, and are encouraging reviews and feedback to ensure that their company is giving employees the best experience.
Businesses have long known the importance of happy customers. Now they are pushing the importance of happy employees.
Gathering employee feedback can be done in several different ways. Here are nine ways and strategies to check in with employees — ranging from basic surveys to more advanced AI capabilities.
Anonymous surveys are one of the simplest and most popular ways to gather feedback from employees. Proponents of anonymous surveys say that the confidential nature of these surveys allows employees to express their opinions without fear of backlash.
Anonymous surveys can be created in-house or via survey and form creation solutions. They can be distributed via email or your other communication and collaboration platforms, like Slack:
The trouble with anonymous surveys is that leaders can’t tie specific complaints to specific employees. This can make the surveys unproductive and at times harmful to company culture.
If the whole goal of employee feedback is to improve employee happiness and retention, managers need to know who is feeling isolated, undervalued, or unhappy with their work to improve their situation.
Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently, writes that his team is getting rid of anonymous feedback because it was largely hurtful, without yielding much improvement in his company. His team is determined to create a culture based on open, honest, and respectful feedback, to replace fear and defensiveness in the workplace.
Extensive annual surveys play a part in gathering employee feedback — but they are not the most effective way to implement needed changes as they arise.
Pulse surveys are a relatively new approach to gathering feedback. These are shorter surveys distributed more frequently.
Typically, pulse surveys have 5-10 questions asking about motivations, ability to handle the workload, and happiness with the company. Because these surveys are filled out more regularly, leadership can see what the current, real-time employee sentiment is and what changes need to be implemented to improve happiness.
TINYpulse is a pulse survey solution that enables teams to give pulse surveys and list employee feedback in a live feed:
Annual surveys may be too few and far between.
Pulse surveys, when sent too frequently, might have the opposite problem. Sending pulse surveys too often might be perceived as annoying and pointless busy work. (Chances are your employees aren’t going to significantly change their attitudes one week from the next).
Be graceful about when to send pulse surveys — find the balance that makes sense for your company. For some, weekly or monthly surveys might be a good fit. Others might choose to send out somewhat longer surveys once a quarter. Do what’s best for your team.
Have a Blend of Open and Close-Ended Questions
When building surveys, questionnaires, or other forms, it is important to have a mix of questions.
Close-ended questions will allow your team to gather specific information that is easily reportable. Close-ended questions make surveys quick for respondents so that it does not eat up much of their work time. The downside is that they might not be telling the full story of your employees’ experience and respondents can’t express themselves freely.
Open-ended questions allow leaders to get a more in-depth look at what employees are thinking:
Regardless of the form of question, questions should always aim to bring out constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback includes details about the context and people involved in an event or behavior. Employees should be encouraged to give details about how policies, behaviors, or patterns have impacted them.
Idea or Suggestion Boxes
This is a simple way to keep leadership constantly open to input from employees. Employees who are hesitant to express unpopular ideas may want to leave feedback in an anonymous way, but feel like surveys haven’t been a good format to express their idea.
Ideally, a culture built upon respect and listening wouldn’t need a box for anonymous suggestions, but some companies might just not be there yet and some employees might feel more comfortable with this approach.
This is the simplest way to get started without any advanced tools. It will only work, however, if the box is regularly checked and if people know that their feedback is being seen.
Employee feedback meetings are a great way to connect staff and managers together in more effective ways.
Some companies bring in trainers to train staff in effective listening and constructive feedback. Communication training aims to encourage a culture of open dialogue. With transparent communication, companies can better shape their culture around connection, respect, and mutual understanding.
Feedback meetings have the potential to be rather mundane — but they don’t have to be. Give feedback meetings more interesting names like ‘Town Hall Discussions’ or ‘Connect Groups’ or whatever creative title your team comes up with.
Make them fun and engaging so that employees look forward to this time of bonding and sharing. You do not want this to be just another pointless meeting — you want your team to feel involved, valued, and heard.
One-on-one meetings are just as important as group discussions. Check in with employees to see how they are doing, to let them know you appreciate them, and to show that you are always open to their opinion. Feedback goes two ways — managers give feedback to their employees and vice versa. If there is a culture of this two-way relationship, it will encourage open dialogue that will deter bitterness and frustration.
Find Ways to Boost Participation
Surveys aren’t the most exciting task in the world. Find ways to boost participation and make responding to surveys fun.
A basic way to boost response rates is to make them simple and sweet. Employees already work long hours and have a lot on their mind. Keeping surveys short is the first way to reduce abandonment rates. A more exciting way to encourage participation is with incentives.
Treats, experiences, and prizes are all positive ways to encourage employee responses. Platforms like Perkbox can make setting up these types of rewards programs quick and effortless:
And remember that a simple thank you goes a long way.
Set Goals to Shape the Questions You Ask
You have to know what information you are looking for before you craft your form or meeting agenda. Establishing KPIs and target groups is the first step to creating effective surveys or meetings.
Companies want to examine how all employees — from entry-level staff to the highest executives — are feeling about the company, but each level of employee will have a different experience and perspective. Surveys should be crafted with the end goal and their target audience in mind.
Collecting and analyzing feedback are the initial steps to increasing employee satisfaction. But they are not enough. The information you learn from surveys must be channeled into action. Here are two important elements to consider when using feedback effectively.
Share Results With Employees
It is necessary to share the collective feedback with your employees to increase transparency and trust.
There is nothing worse than working for a company for years, faithfully completing feedback forms and never seeing your suggestions implemented or feeling like your voice mattered. This can cause significant damage to relationships between employees and higher-ups, decrease employee satisfaction in the workspace, and increase employee turnover.
Employees want to work where their voice is heard. If your team is taking feedback seriously but not being transparent about that process, employees are going to assume that you did not give much attention to the feedback. Make sure that employees know you analyzed the data and have a data-based action plan for the future.
Executives don’t have to share every single report or survey finding. That would probably be over-the-top. Share results when there are significant patterns or urgent matters.
For more regular updates, decide when is most appropriate for your team to discuss the feedback. Some teams might do this every quarter; others have open discussions annually.
What matters is that your employees feel heard, that the meeting is not a burden but valuable, and employees know that managers genuinely care about their experience.
Assess the Importance and Urgency of Commonly Reported Complaints
Gathering employee feedback can raise complicated issues. Employees might have certain wishes that executives don’t want to, or can’t, make a reality.
For example, employees often feel that they don’t have enough of a work-life balance but executives aren’t seeing enough profit to give them extra time off.
With large teams, there is give and take. Not everybody has the resources of Apple, Google, and Facebook to offer uber innovative workspaces and competitive benefits packages. But every team can decide what are urgent deal-breakers for employees.
While analyzing feedback and patterns of employee churn, companies can determine which issues are worth addressing, how urgent they are, and the timeframe and resources needed to implement change.
It is also helpful to identify common small issues that are simple and quick to resolve. Sometimes, the simplest changes, like revamping the kitchen can improve employee satisfaction significantly. Identifying the most important and the most low-cost, high-yield opportunities will have a significant impact on company culture.
You won’t be able to resolve every issue perfectly, but if you are open with employees about the strides you are making on their behalf, they are more likely to be happy, productive, and committed.
Employee feedback should never be a burden to employees. They should know that customer feedback surveys are designed for their benefit. It’s all about their happiness. And remember, what’s good for happy employees is also good for healthy companies.