Employees interact with customers, understand internal processes, and have a truly unique perspective on how everything occurs. Honestly understanding employee feedback is a huge advantage to entrepreneurs, both in terms of company and product growth and individual employee happiness and satisfaction. But gaining genuine feedback can be difficult. Even if you ask for it, employees are hesitant, afraid that being too straightforward might make them look bad, cost them their job, or any host of other negative outcomes. And honestly, sometimes they just aren’t invested enough to offer advice. Recent studies have shown that only 15% of the global workforce feel completely engaged at work. Besides decreasing employee productivity and overall company culture, the “not my problem” approach of disengaged employee often makes them unwilling to share insights. So what are organizations supposed to do? How can you encourage employees to actually share honest feedback and opinions on company issues? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Encourage More Engagement
The first step in helping employees offer their opinions is making sure they actually want to share. When employees are engaged, invested, and a real part of an organization, they want to see it do well. They naturally strive to fix problems and overcome obstacles, particularly when they are asked about them. Employee engagement means all kinds of things to different organizations, and dozens of articles exist about improving engagement, so we won’t spend too much time on it here. The most important thing to remember is employee need to feel safe, understood, challenged, and invested. When they appreciate and enjoy the work environment, insight is a natural consequence.
Make Sharing Opinions Easy
Once employees want to share, doing so needs to be easy. That means it should be easy for employees themselves to share and for leaders to follow up with and find the suggestions. Traditional employee suggestion boxes, for example, are probably pretty straightforward for employees, but they lack the order and simplicity management needs to sort through and see ideas. Similarly, detailed spreadsheets with color-coded KPI might be great for leaders, but it just looks like a confusing mess to the average employee. However your organization decided to ask for input, make it a simple and straightforward process for everyone involved. Thankfully, with today’s technology and collaboration tools, sharing ideas and analyzing workplace insights is easier than ever.
Offer Anonymous Feedback
No matter how confident and comfortable employees are, it’s always a little scary to give company critiques. You never know exactly how your honest feedback is going to be received. Give employees the confidence they need by providing anonymous feedback options. Help employees understand that your greatest interest is in improving everyone’s experience. Whether that means employees, customers, investors, or whoever else it may be. And while it might seem obvious, respect and honor the trust of your employees and truly offer anonymous suggestions. If you have the ability to discover the identity of employees giving anonymous feedback, don’t do it. Your workers are trusting you to honor your word and respect their right to privacy. You violate that trust at the expense of your entire company culture and corporate reputation.
Create Open Communication
Facilitate trust by showing employees that communication isn’t just a one-way experience. If you expect workers to be open and honest with you than they need to receive the same treatment. While obviously, every business decision can’t be shared and some information must be kept confidential, prepare and inform employees about issues whenever possible. This not only helps employees feel connected and engaged in the organization but also shows the confidence you have in your workforce. When people feel trusted they are much more likely to offer it in return. Being open with employees means including them in both the positive and negative experiences. While it can feel safer to hold onto bad new as long as possible, being blindsided by a layoff, a lost client, an organizational rearrangement, or any other kind of setback is always a worse experience.
Actually Follow Through
Collecting information and honest feedback is ultimately useless if you don’t do anything with it. In fact, asking employees for their opinions and then disregarding their input is probably worse than not asking at all. While you can’t fulfill every request of course, honestly acknowledging their input and thanking employees for their contributions goes a long way. Employees need to know that their concerns are being heard, that their insight matters, and that they make a lasting difference. Follow through is especially important when you do decide to make changes based on employee feedback. Let employees know about changes and then keep your word to the best of your abilities. It can be easy to let plans fall through the cracks but make an effort to stay organized, follow up often, and ensure changes actually happen.
At MangoApps, we know the importance of listening to employees. Our Mango Pulse App was designed exclusively around understanding employees, gathering honest feedback, and helping their voices be heard. With surveys, quizzes, and detailed employee recognition tools, we make it easy for employees to share and leaders to analyze, assess, and act on input. To learn more about Mango Pulse or see it in action in your own industry, contact us or schedule a personalized demo today.