Four reason why listening to employee feedback is important (and how to do it)
Effective communication is a two-way process, it’s not only direct supervisors or managers who give feedback to employees, but employees should be able to give feedback to their managers and direct supervisors as well.
In the same way that giving employees honest and timely feedback comes with the intent to motivate them to do better or maintain their performance at work, the same should be when managers or leadership in a company listen to employees’ feedback.
1) It builds better relationships and creates a better work environment
As any HR consultancy knows, honesty in communicating feedback helps avoid the same mistakes from being committed and reduces errors from miscommunicated instructions both on the employees’ side and a manager’s as well. Time is also saved from correcting work, and also prevents the feeling of regret from any faults. Being able to listen and act on feedback builds feelings of trust and honesty, thus creating better working relationships.
2) It promotes growth and continuous learning
Listening to feedback also entails taking the necessary action to improve and do better. Feedback from employees gives different perspectives as to what can be improved, what can be done differently, and ideally produces better results. Some may view feedback as criticism, but this instead can be seen as a means to address under-performance in a constructive light and use this as motivation to improve performance moving forward.
3) It makes employees feel valued
Taking what you learn from employee feedback and translating it into action is part of what makes listening to feedback important. Employees’ reports can elicit a direct response or action, and this action is important especially if it concerns an existing issue.
Taking direct action creates a win-win situation where management is able to build trust with employees and employees can see they can rely on their management as well. This way if anything comes up in the future, employees are sure that the first step to solving it is to bring it up with management.
4) It improves employee engagement
In the same way that companies listen and act on customer feedback, the same should hold true for its employees. Listening to what employees have to say opens communication lines, gives value to their opinions, and contributes to their sense of belongingness in the organization.
If an employee suggests, for example, that CNC routers would be the ideal tool to help them do their work better and the employer purchases that tool, it’s easy to see just how much of a boost that would give the team.
According to the 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey by Deloitte, factors that contribute to creating a sense of belonging at a workplace can be brought about by employees feeling comfortable, connected, and being able to contribute to significant outcomes of an organization. Employees that feel a sense of belonging in a company perform better and are more likely to remain with a company.
Just asking isn’t enough – you need to really LISTEN
Of course it’s not just important to gather employee feedback – you need to actively listen to it. Active listening also involves reflecting on what a person has just said and summarizing it, providing the speaker reassurance that you’ve understood their point. Active listening is a skill that requires concentration and paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues a person is conveying but is also a skill associated with effective leadership.
Through active listening, leaders are able to build trust, show concern, share insight, and affirm employees that in turn can leave a lasting impression on them. When getting feedback in person especially, leaders need to not only actively listen to feedback but understand and engage employees to reassure them that their message has been delivered.
How to gather feedback
With the right tools and practices, gathering employee feedback need not be difficult. For instance, regular one-on-one check ins allow you to hear feedback first-hand and also allow you to focus on on employees’ choice of words and body language as they give their opinion.
Pulse surveys are a quick and easy means to get employee feedback that is sometimes aimed at certain aspects of a business. Companies can partner with external service providers to assure employees of their anonymity, making them more open and confident to give their insights.
Polls and suggestion boxes are another means to get immediate feedback. These can be posted around the workplace or made available online and can be used to get opinions on informal matters as well. Focus group discussions are not only a source of opinions and insights from groups of employees, but can also generate healthy discourse and qualitative feedback on what employees think about certain issues or company priorities.
Companies can encourage employee opinions through contests and other bonus structures that can be seen as a source of innovation as well.
Listening to your employees and taking action makes them feel valued
Listening to employees and acting on their concerns not only makes them feel relevant and more engaged, but is also a proactive means to deal with their concerns before they get out of hand.
Listening is an essential skill any leader should possess, but is also one that is often overlooked. More often than not, some leaders will be more focused on speaking and sharing too much, so that employees on the other end might feel unheard. It’s one of the simplest but also the most powerful tool to make employees feel valued but is also a skill that needs constant attention and practice.