You may be wondering how to collect honest feedback from employees. This can be a challenge, especially when you own the business. Who wants to risk offending the boss when staff feedback (however well-meaning) has the potential to adversely affect their job prospects or earning power?
But it’s incredibly important to know how to get honest feedback from employees.
Why is honest employee feedback important?
Finding out what your employees really think about your management skills can be crucial. Without honest employee feedback, you may not hear about innovative ways that could potentially advance your business. Or you may not be able to improve on how you personally manage employees – which will cause your best employees to leave.
While constructive criticism may be difficult to hear, it’s important if you want to grow and scale your business. Your challenge is making employees feel comfortable enough to give you that feedback.
Employee feedback is the core of personal and professional growth. Just as feedback can help an employee get better at what they do, the same goes for a business.
What does the research tell us about employee feedback?
In a recent study by Gallup, employee engagement is low under normal circumstances. This global research categorised engagement into three levels:
- Actively disengaged
The findings were as follows:
- Employees are engaged when they are emotionally driven to perform
- They are disengaged when they do not have the passion and drive to perform
- Actively disengaged employees influence the organisation negatively and act out via politics and undermining the efforts of others
In the 2019 State of Global Workplace report, Gallup found that within Australia, the stats were as follows:
- 14% of employees were engaged
- 71% disengaged
- 15% were actively disengaged
When we consider the impact this can have on your company’s financial health and culture, we see why focusing on employee job attitudes is important.
It is also important to note that if your company has a high level of engagement, there is a strong probability that this will be the same in a challenging external circumstance.
High levels of engagement and retention rates can help you weather any storm.
How to get employee feedback about your company
You want to make sure your company grows with its employees and that you’re always learning and adapting to make sure you’ve created a great place to work.
But, how do you get the most open and honest feedback from your employees that’ll really help your business skyrocket?
We have the answers with 12 best practice examples below.
1. Introduce an open-door policy
Honest and genuine feedback comes from fostering an open-door environment where you and other leaders in your business are approachable. An open-door policy means you welcome employees to come to your office with their ideas, comments, complaints and suggestions.
To set the stage, tell your employees that you welcome constructive feedback, appreciate their advice and that you’ll consider adopting their ideas. You also need to respond honestly to those who come to see you.
Remember, taking action on feedback (even if it’s just an acknowledgement at first) is incredibly important.
2. Regular performance catch ups
Rather than a once-a-year thing, instigating frequent performance review catch-ups help build trust and openness between you and your employees. This provides an opportunity for open and honest employee and employer feedback.
The important point here is that you create an atmosphere of open honesty, where your employees can bring up things without fear of being reprimanded. It’s important to document each review and standardise the process.
Modern HRIS platforms like Employment Hero can help you ensure that you’re aligning company objectives with employee goals while monitoring your own performance against goals set for yourself through employee feedback.
Looking to conduct a performance review? Check out our performance review template here.
3. Schedule casual one-on-one sessions
Scheduling casual one-on-one sessions with your employees is a good way to get them comfortable with giving you feedback in a private setting. But remember, it all begins with your behaviour.
They need to feel like they can share their thoughts with you – even if it’s something that you may not want to hear.
4. Using team meetings to get feedback from team members
You can also get insightful feedback from staff by holding regular team meetings. For some employees, it’s empowering for them to share and give input in a group setting when they feel they have the support of their fellow colleagues.
It’s always a good idea to have everyone briefed before the meeting so they can come prepared with their feedback at the ready.
This will ensure you collect valuable feedback from team members.
5. Ask the right questions
If you want your employees to give you their opinion on an issue, ask open-ended questions.
For instance, if you want to find out about your communication and management skills, you could ask:
- How do you rate my management style?
- Can I improve the way I communicate with you and the team?
- Has poor communication on my part impacted your ability to do your job?
- If you were in my shoes, what would you change tomorrow, and why?
Try not to ask yes or no questions so you can get more detail.
6. Provide anonymous employee feedback options
If you’re having trouble getting your employees to open up, you can use a feedback app that will allow your employees to send you anonymous feedback from their phones. Tools like our Anonymous Employee Survey allow capturing employee responses privately.
At the same time, having a traditional Suggestion Box still has its merits and allows everyone to send you their thoughts discreetly. The point here is to ensure you acknowledge the feedback and demonstrate to your employees that you are taking action based on their comments and criticisms.
If you don’t do anything with the feedback, employees will disengage.
7. Survey your employees
While exit interviews have their place, you can use employee surveys regularly to gather rich and actionable feedback from employees about what they think about you: the good, the bad and the ugly. You could incorporate these questions in your employee engagement survey to limit the number of surveys you send staff over the course of a year.
Conducting a survey can help you identify:
- What your staff like and don’t like about your management style
- Areas where you need to improve or make changes
- Things you do (or don’t do) that bug your staff.
Online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey feature standard surveys you can use for measuring employee engagement as well as assessing your own strengths and weaknesses.
8. Be more open, honest and authentic
Company surveys don’t always provide the genuine, contextually appropriate feedback you want. Instead, focus on gathering feedback one-on-one. During this process, you want to make sure you are sharing the good, bad and ugly about your own skills with your employees.
If you’re being honest and authentic about yourself – it will make them feel more relaxed and therefore provide you with more open and honest feedback.
Be humble and show you’re human too, and break down any facade between managers and employees.
9. Follow-up is critical
How you decide to elicit employee feedback is not as important as following up on it. Once an employee has taken the time to give their opinion on a matter, they’ll be watching to see how you take this feedback on board. Using an HR management platform, you can capture all this feedback and communicate progress.
By showing trust in the judgement of your employees, you motivate them to contribute more and more to your (and the team’s) success.
10. Keep an eye out for feedback on review sites
It’s possible that some of your former employees never expressed their honest feedback to you. Whether this is because they never got the opportunity to provide feedback or never felt comfortable doing so, they may opt to post their feedback on an employment review website.
This can provide you with a good insight into your employee’s workplace experiences and the areas that you can improve upon for your current group of employees.
11. Collecting employee feedback when working remotely or from home
Wondering how you can collect honest feedback from your employees who are working from home? The solution lies in the examples above. To supplement face-to-face feedback, you can utilise video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google hangouts.
If you want to streamline this process, Employment Hero offers a wide range of tools that allow you to manage your employees feedback remotely.
12. Provide all-rounded 360-degree feedback
Providing employee feedback from superiors is not enough these days.
It is essential to also provide this from peers, co-workers and direct reports, that is 360-degree feedback, and these provide a more rounded and holistic assessment of how the employee is perceived to perform overall (not just from superiors).
Taking action on negative feedback
Employee feedback is a crucial part of employee engagement. The better you understand your employees’ wants and needs, the easier it will be to keep them engaged in their work.
The most important thing is to be proactive in seeking employee feedback about your company and taking action based on their comments and criticisms.
By showing trust in the judgement of your employees, you motivate them to contribute more to your (and the team’s) success.