IN TOUCH / MEET THE EXPERTS / JULIAN WATSON
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Regular employee check-ins are transformational
Having worked for a mixture of small, medium and large enterprises I have experienced employee feedback programmes in various forms.
We all know the most common type of employee feedback programme, the ‘annual employee survey’. This is usually used to gauge levels of happiness, job satisfaction and intention to leave, amongst other measures. A process that can often flag both success stories and major problems.
The issue with this approach is that you are only listening to your employees once a year and it becomes a formal, cold repetitive process. Even worse, the same issues may keep coming up year-after-year and the promise of change is never acted upon. Sceptical employees feel that they have not been listened to in the past, so why should they think any differently this year? In turn leaving poor morale amongst staff and a team less likely to feel able to talk to you.
This often mirrors the approach taken to measuring customer satisfaction. Again, annual rigid processes that provide useful benchmarks, but ultimately don’t help improve the performance of the business.
Weaving both customer and employee feedback together on a regular basis is an extremely powerful way of learning and optimising. A continuous, iterative approach that captures the opinions of both customers and employees, keeping the business honest about the improvements that need to be made whilst also empowering and motivating staff.
Data, inspiration and evidence is everywhere! You just need to be able to spot it and use it. Moving beyond rigid processes can be tricky, but the rapid evolution of technology means there are lots of resources available to help.
Whether it is through conversations, videos, photos or emails, any feedback that you get from employees should be stored, organised and mined for insight. Businesses throughout the world are drowning in data that isn’t being used and channelling this information in the right way will lead to valuable insight about the performance of your business. Thinking like an editor and regularly sending out the key messages in easily digestible formats will help with engagement and encourage more employees to contribute in the future.
So one-off annual feedback is not enough. Feedback needs to be regular, ongoing and flexible in how it is captured. Grasping and organising all the different threads of employee observations and insights keeps a business nimble and able to react quickly. Relying on formal channels is too slow. You should empower employees to spot and send nuggets of intelligence that will help the business do a better job. If this type of behaviour is encouraged, maybe even rewarded, then employees become a vital asset in diagnosing and addressing problems quickly. A great way of engaging with people, improving levels of job satisfaction and a happier workforce!