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4 Ways to Leverage the Power of Employee Feedback and Transform Company Culture

March 19, 2019
| ByGina Jessica Smith

Feedback is crucial to employee development and the creation of a corporate culture that aligns with employee retention. Moreover, since manager behaviors account for 70 percent of the fluctuation in employee retention, having constructive feedback on that behavior becomes essential to nurturing employee relationships. Companies that seek to avoid the costs and disruptions associated with employee churn should cultivate a strong feedback-focused corporate culture.

How to Create an Employee Feedback-Friendly Culture to Improve Retention and Productivity

When employees feel confident, they can voice issues, concerns, and ideas in a reprisal-free environment. This advances company culture and allows for improvements in behavior, productivity, and efficiency across the board.

However, managing employee feedback is a touchy subject and can be difficult without a solid plan in place. Here are four ways to leverage the power of feedback and create a positive corporate communication system that can improve all aspects of business functioning.

  1. Create a Feedback-Focused Culture through Trust Building

Employees should feel empowered to give feedback — and that starts with trust. To build trust with employees, company leadership should:

  • Share challenges facing management/company on a regular basis
  • Stop asking, “How’s it going?” and ask direct questions such as, “What roadblocks are getting in your way?”
  • Respond quickly and constructively to issues and always thank employees for sharing
  • Ask, “How can I be helpful?” rather than trying to fix the situation without further input

As employees become more familiar with these techniques and confident in their use, the flow of information will become more genuine — and valuable.

  1. Use Transparency to Foster Feedback-Focused Relationships

Most employees are hesitant to move into feedback-sharing mode for a number of reasons — fear of reprisal being one of them. To work through this roadblock and open up lines of communication, companies can employ one of the following strategies:

  • Reinforce policies where managers conduct regular one-on-one feedback sessions with employees where any topic can be up for discussion
  • Provide periodic meeting times where leaders can bring employee concerns to the forefront for next-level managers
  • Use anonymized tools like online surveys, polls, and others to encourage honest feedback, then bring those suggestions out in public to show you value and accept criticism

Using one or more of these techniques can help employees feel like they have a valued voice in company policy and further reinforce a trustful atmosphere.

  1. Be Accepting of Criticism

Managers and company leaders should be openly accepting of criticism and work constructively to change or modify behaviors and policies that are problematic. Immediate positive action lets employees understand that their opinions are valued. Ways to accomplish this include:

  • Acknowledging and communicating the issue company-wide
  • Brainstorming solutions
  • Mutually agreeing on a solution or solutions
  • Setting change in motion through planning
  • Keeping track of outcomes through further feedback

Since feedback is ongoing, this process can continue through the lifecycle of a company, bringing new ideas and solutions to the forefront.

  1. Use Recognition to Boost Feedback and Trust

It seems incredible, but only about a third of U.S. employees feel that their efforts are appreciated. In fact, two-thirds of employees who have gone a week without any recognition would consider another job. To increase employee engagement along with improving trust and community in the workplace, consider building a strong performance management and recognition program. All employees should be onboard this transparent and structured program to cultivate deep trust and connections throughout the corporate community.

Rewards and recognition can be one-on-one, group-oriented, spontaneous, or formal — but they should be consistently provided to encourage the kind of community-building and openness that increases satisfaction. The rewards of this type of system are quantifiable. Recognition in a formal setting can increase an employee’s feeling of appreciation by 355 percent and recognition in an informal setting by 172 percent. Either way, these methods support employees’ sense of confidence and helps them feel valued and connected to the workplace.

Moving Forward with a Positive Feedback Loop

Putting these techniques into practice will provide a safe, comfortable environment for employees to share concerns, comments, and ideas. Being accepting of employee suggestions and criticism can not only implement changes that enhance a company’s performance but also provide a culture of inclusion and rewards that helps companies engage employees for greater satisfaction — and retention. Importantly, once trust and connectedness are established, feedback becomes easier to both give and receive — resulting in continuous positive benefits for both employees and employers.

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