feedback loop blog cover

The world of work is increasingly becoming more real-time. Employees expect quick feedback to help them grow and improve their performance.

Companies like Adobe, Deloitte, GE, and others have made headlines recently for getting rid of their annual reviews and focusing more on frequent feedback. Employees crave frequent feedback and want to have a dialogue about improving culture.

Many companies use an anonymous feedback tool to help give employees a voice, but they fail on one of the most crucial elements: the follow-up.

It’s hard enough to get employees to participate in these types of programs, the ones that take the time to give you valuable feedback deserve care and attention.

The “Tomato Effect” with Employee Feedback

Employee feedback is like a tomato.

You spend all this time planting a tomato, letting it grow, picking it, and washing it. If you just leave it to rot, what was the point of planting it in the first place?

When you collect employee feedback and don’t do anything with it, you’re letting that feedback rot.

rotten tomato

Think about the amount of time, energy and effort spent on setting up a process, announcing it to employees, and getting them comfortable enough to submit feedback. If you just leave that feedback to rot, what was the point of collecting it in the first place?

The same way you need to eat that tomato quickly, you need to respond to employee feedback quickly.

Keep in mind that these employees are willingly giving you good advice to help improve the company for all current and future employees.

You should be incredibly grateful for that.

There’s nothing worse to an employee than to have them give you a great suggestion, and to have no one even let them know “thanks for your feedback.”

This is one of the easiest ways to ensure that they don’t participate again.

Employees (especially millennials) are used to a continuous feedback loop because that’s the way it works on social media.

Companies that use employee feedback software because they genuinely want to improve their workplace deserve a big kudos.

They’re already on the right track, but they’re missing a very important element in the process.

Currently, the way it works in most applications is:

  • Employees submit feedback
  • It goes into a black box (the employee hears nothing)
  • Then maybe if they’re lucky their suggestion will be implemented months later

current feedback process

Here’s how it should work. As soon as an employee submits feedback:

  • A conversation gets started
  • Managers are held accountable for responding to and acting on the feedback that comes in
  • The employee is involved in the planning and execution
  • The employee is super happy
  • The manager is super happy

ideal feedback process

Responding To And Acting On Feedback

Looking at data from how customers react to feedback can help us understand how employees might react.

Research1 published by a UK-based customer experience company found that:

  • 43% of people surveyed said that they don’t leave feedback because they don’t think that the business cares
  • Of those same customers, 81% said they would be willing to leave feedback if they knew they would get a fast response

You need to show employees that you care about their feedback and that you’re genuinely seeking it. You should let employees know that you’ll get back to them very soon.

Another prominent example of this was found in a CareerBuilder survey2:

48% of employees would stay with a company that asks them what they want and acts on that feedback.

Employees want to be heard and they want to feel like their opinion counts.

If you make employees feel involved it can have a huge effect on employee engagement.

In one of Officevibe’s infographics on employee survey statistics, we showed that most managers rarely take the time to do anything with the survey results. We found that:

  • 27% of managers never reviewed the results
  • 52% of managers reviewed results, but never did anything with them

What these managers don’t understand is that this has a huge effect on employee engagement. A survey3 from BlessingWhite found that:

When employers take no action after a survey, employee engagement drops to 24%

In a perfect world, the feedback you receive from employees wouldn’t have to be anonymous so that you can easily follow up and ask for more specifics.

The problem is that there is so much fear in most company cultures that employees need to be anonymous to feel like they can speak their mind freely.

Luckily, this is the exact problem we’re trying to solve with Officevibe.

How Officevibe Creates The Feedback Loop

At Officevibe, we’re trying to help create greater workplaces. We do this by empowering managers with the tools they need to make changes for the better. We also do this by providing a safe way for employees to express their concerns.

One of the biggest challenges for us is ensuring that managers act on the data that they have.

The truth is, regardless of what tool or process you use, if a manager isn’t willing to act on what they see, the whole program is doomed from the start.

When managers receive written feedback in Officevibe, most of the time, they’d love to follow up and get more details about it.

But how would an employee feel if they received an email asking to explain their anonymous feedback?

One of the things we pride ourselves on is our commitment to anonymity.

So one of the biggest challenges for us was how do we ensure that managers and employees can follow up and have a discussion while maintaining that anonymity for the employee.

I think we found the answer.

We just released a brand new feature that enables managers to reply to feedback, and I’ll explain exactly how it works.

Step 1 – Managers Review Feedback

All of the qualitative feedback that employees send is presented to managers in a clean report that emulates an email inbox.

The reason we chose to present it in the form of an email inbox is to get managers used to treating feedback like a queue of support tickets.

This is very important, and I’ll go into more detail about this later.

All of the feedback is organized by one of the 10 metrics of employee engagement and tagged positive/constructive.

feedback report in OV

Step 2 – Managers Respond To Feedback

Many times when feedback comes in it’s unclear and unfinished, so managers would love to reply to this feedback.

Now, they get to respond to that feedback, and an email is sent to to employees to let them know that someone has replied.

This is the most important step in the process.

We need to make employees feel safe here, and so in the email, we not only clearly say “View Anonymously,” but we blur out their answer, and there’s a message at the bottom of the email letting employees know that we blurred the reply to maintain privacy.

Step 3 – A Conversation Is Started

This is where the fun starts.

At this point, an employee can come back into a conversation that remains completely anonymous.

The conversation can now take place in a safe environment for the employee.

Using Labels To Manage The Queue

One of the coolest features about the new feedback queue in Officevibe is that you can add labels to conversations to keep them organized.

This has massive implications.

What we want to do is change the mindset of the manager, and have them treat incoming feedback like a support queue.

When feedback comes in, we want to create a culture of having a constant back and forth. Over time, we think that it will create a more open and transparent culture where people start to become less and less scared to voice their opinion.

They’ll start to feel as if they’re being listened to because they see real change occurring.

How Do You Handle Feedback In Your Organization?

Let us know in the comments below!