Mike leads The Evolved Group’s operations in the Americas. With extensive experience in marketing, advertising and consumer behavior, Mike has an unbridled passion for gathering insight through meaningful engagement.
Periods of disruption such as COVID-19 can have lasting effects for businesses – in areas that we might not have ever expected. One of the consequences of the past few months is that many businesses have been in ‘survival mode’ – focusing on what is directly in front of them – whether this is the work pipeline, remote working adjustments or redundancies.
This is understandable – businesses do have to keep the lights on, after all – but it means that other important areas, such as employee feedback, can take a back seat until things settle down. As we know, the benefits of employee feedback include a discreet way to voice concerns, insights into working conditions, and the opportunity to identify weaknesses in the organization. Current research into employee engagement and retention indicates that to de-prioritize employee feedback may be a dangerous shift away from the ‘listening culture’ valued by top tier organizations – with serious implications for culture if we continue to exist in ‘survival mode’.
So why is employee feedback more relevant and valuable than ever? The answer comes in several parts.
Firstly, failure to listen impacts the bottom line – something we are all watching at the moment. Leadership expert Dan Bobinski proposes that often managers avoid asking for feedback or taking it on board, due to fear of appearing to agree to something they don’t support, or being asked to consider different perspectives. However, this represents a significant cost to the organization – in that managers may miss out on important and valuable information from the front lines.
Secondly, employees themselves value a listening culture even more than pay when selecting an employer, according to a recent Deloitte study. The association of workplace culture, regular feedback and employee engagement is well established. High talent individuals are likely to be drawn to organizations that give regular opportunities to provide feedback – as well as those which act on the findings and recommendations.
Thirdly, employee feedback has been shown to be fundamental to good leadership. Managers who are able to move from speaking to listening, and translate feedback into direct action, motivate their employees to confidently approach their manager about workplace issues or proposals. A manager who – whether inadvertently or not, makes their employee feel unheard, directly impacts employee motivation and creates a downward spiral of disengagement. A systematic approach of checking in with employees and providing a space for discussion, regardless of that individual’s performance, means that a manager will be able to foster engagement and gain trust consistently and keep track of any issues.
So how might businesses go about collecting employee feedback at a time like this? Most companies send surveys which can add to employee disengagement. After all, who wants to click fifty boxes on issues that may not be affecting them?
Utilize technology to give an authentic voice
During challenging times such as this, it is understandable that organizations can become focused on the more urgent issues that are facing them, such as workflow and business development – but it is also critical to focus on their most valuable asset – their employees.
Organizations need to utilize advances in technology such as AI-led conversational engagement to give their employees a true, unfiltered voice.
Giving these employees the platform to share their insights, concerns and feedback sends a strong message that an organization values their input, and is responsive to changing working conditions and demands.
Has your organization offered employees the opportunity to give unfiltered and open feedback since COVID-19? Please feel free to share any experiences or anecdotes with us in the comments below.