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How to Use Employee Feedback to Build a Truly Positive Workplace Culture

Stefanie Jansen
Stefanie Jansen

What do employees really think of your latest HR campaigns? Where do they find inspiration? Are they as excited as you are about the company’s mission? Or does time seem to stand still for them when they’re at work?

There’s only one way to find out. You’re going to have to ask them.

Here’s the kicker: A traditional employee survey isn’t going to cut it. You need something much more robust; a survey strong enough to measure the true pulse of an entire workforce. In this post, I’ll show you how to accomplish just that.

Why Is It So Hard to Gather Genuine Employee Feedback?

Here’s the problem: Employee feedback isn’t just a nice-to-have for human resources. It’s a need-to-know imperative. A strong company culture is one that’s led by the employees themselves. You simply can’t inspire them until you know what drives them.

Without authentic employee feedback, you’re out of luck.

Unfortunately, typical methods such as one-time annual surveys aren’t representative of the workforce at large. The 10% of vocal employees who take time to respond to these questionnaires tend to fall within one of two extremes. They’re either “extremely happy” or “extremely unhappy.” What do the other 90% think of your vision and values as they relate to their day-to-day work? It’s anyone’s guess. The vast majority of employees simply aren’t being heard. So…

How do you gauge true employee engagement? What questions will lead to honest answers? Believe it or not, there is a right way to inquire.

How to Get More Authentic Employee Feedback

Right now, your methods of gathering employee feedback are leaving a lot of critical questions unanswered. But you’re about to learn three essential elements that, when used consistently, are guaranteed to turn things around.

1) Employee Feedback Must Be Ongoing

How often do you survey employees? If it’s once a year, there’s a good chance your staff doesn’t feel invested in the process. For starters, it can be incredibly difficult for someone to recall how they felt during an activity that occurred months ago. At best, you’ll get a guess when someone gauges the Q1 all-hands meeting or evaluates an onboarding process from six months ago. At worst, you’ll hear crickets.

Once-a-year surveys also tend to become a dumping ground for 12 months’ worth of questions. And the longer your survey becomes, the less likely an employee will be to participate or take time to provide thoughtful answers.  

Gathering feedback on a regular cadence, such as quarterly, helps build trust with employees…as does sharing a quick poll each time there’s an opportunity to involve employees in important decisions.

When the surveys are short and the topics at hand are fresh, it’s much easier for employees to give feedback. They’ll feel heard and you’ll get accurate insights.

2) Employee Feedback Must Be Varied

It’s not just what you ask employees, but how you ask it that really matters. High-response employee surveys tend to center around questions that are easy for employees to answer and for HR to measure.

For example:

When you’re fine-tuning an internal initiative and trying to decide between three options, a multiple choice poll will make it easy for employees to tell you which they prefer. But what if you’re still creating the campaign itself and would like to know what your employees need to feel inspired? At this stage, an open response poll is the key to getting helpful answers to open-ended questions. Using different presentations to match each occasion ensures you’ll get results that are both relevant and actionable—and lead to insights that remove the guesswork from creating a strong company culture.

3) Employee Feedback Must Be Convenient

If you really want to hear from employees, your surveys are going to have to meet them where they are. That means going mobile. The average employee spends hours a day on a smartphone and is far more likely to take a mobile-friendly quick poll than a lengthy questionnaire that requires a laptop screen and keyboard—or worse, pen, paper, and a stamp. It’s much more convenient to tap and swipe in response to a push message when an employee is working in the field or on the go. What’s more, those push notifications won’t clutter inboxes or get lost in the shuffle.

Bottom line: If you want to create a happier, more engaged workforce that contributes to a truly positive culture, your employee surveys are the place to start. Focus on consistency and convenience, and before you know it you’ll be gathering employee feedback like a pro.

Could you use some help crafting questions for your new-and-improved employee feedback surveys? Start with our guide: 10 Employee Survey Questions to Inform Your Engagement Strategy.

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