3 key steps to gathering employee feedback

Leaders are asking how best to capture productive employee feedback as part of a successful employee communications strategy. The common wisdom is this: Tell your audience what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. It’s best to tell your employees you are going to ask, ask them, and then thank them for their feedback.

3 Key Steps

Consider these key steps:

Step one: Tell employees you are going to ask for feedback. There are two critical points here. First, be honest about the reality you are living in. Don’t sugarcoat it. We’re in the midst of a pandemic. Make sure you are clear about the current business context and some of the challenges you are facing. Second, make sure you share why you are asking for feedback. Explain that the survey feedback will inform executive decision making. Explain that senior leaders will be reading the responses and examining their feedback to identify blind spots within the organization. So, be clear about reality and communicate the why.

Step two: Ask your employees for feedback. If you are using a pulse survey to capture this feedback, limit the number of questions to a targeted handful and keep the response window short. I recommend asking four or five questions and limiting it 24 hours. If it’s an annual engagement survey you are using to get feedback, don’t shy away from administering that right now. Most of us are transitioning to a “new normal,” and part of that new environment is getting employee feedback. Be clear about that upfront. You can also add questions to the survey that address the current situation.

Step three: Thank your employees for their feedback. Summarize briefly what you heard and consider highlighting an example comment or two. Choose those that are representative of the feedback. I can say from experience that this can be quite powerful.

Don’t rely on pulse surveys as your only employee communications strategy. Crisis communications are all about communicate, communicate, communicate. And communicating daily.

A successful employee communications strategy requires more than pulse surveys. At Virtual town-hall meetings, and engagement via email are other good methods of communicating. You want to ensure you are keeping employees well-informed of where you are at and what changes they can expect.

At the team level, we recommend daily communication – team huddles, meetings, and one-to-ones are just a few examples. 

When it comes to pulse surveys, establish a regular cadence for capturing productive employee feedback. We recommend weekly. But remember the key steps: Get the word out, ask them to respond, and then close the loop.

Doug Claffey is founder of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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