May 6, 2016

9 tips for building a better feedback culture

Donald Conant is famous for having written at least 3,000 thank you notes to employees during his ten year stint as CEO of US business Campbell Soup Company. That’s over 10 notes a day. Oh and he boosted employee engagement and turned around the ailing company on the way.

Another business luminary – Mark Zuckerberg – followed in Conant’s footsteps in 2014 and set himself a challenge to write a thank you note each day.

Organisations strive to improve employee morale and engagement in all sorts of ways – team away days, perks, childcare vouchers and so on – but often the best and simplest methods are those that are overlooked – praise, recognition and communication. Certainly, there is place for these very important employee benefits, but at the end of the day, everyone likes to feel that their contribution is noticed, counts and is valued on a regular basis.

The business energy price comparison company, Love Energy Savings, recently interviewed 750 people in the UK about how engaged they feel at work. The response? More than 40% of British workers don’t believe that their employer does enough to engage them.

Once Love Energy Savings had done the interviews and analysed the results, it spoke to some workplace experts to gain their views on how employers could improve employee engagement levels.

Jill Miller, research adviser at the CIPD, was one of them. What was her advice? She highlighted the importance of good communication, particularly when small businesses are thriving and growing. “As the workforce grows, you can no longer rely on informal communication, but need to introduce more formal mechanisms to ensure everyone receives the same message and no-one is left out,” she says. “It’s important the communication is not just downward, but is two-way, with mechanisms in place for employees to feed their views and suggestions upwards.”

Celebrate staff achievements was the advice of Brian Londsale, director of Smarter Digital Marketing. He thinks that if managing directors make a real effort to recognise the contribution that their employees make, then they will benefit from having a happy, vibrant working environment. “Positive affirmations are something I’m very passionate about,” he says. “Only discussing the areas of improvement your workforce needs will shake their confidence. Praise staff on their merits. Notice star employees so they don’t feel their hard work goes unnoticed. Praise is vital for staff retention.”

9 tips for building a better feedback culture

1. Communicate. Talk to employees.
2. Create the right culture. Have a culture that is open and encourages people to speak up.
3. Listen, really listen to employees about what they like and dislike.
4. Act on feedback (when that feedback is useful). Asking for feedback and then never doing anything with it is even worse than not asking at all.
5. Involve line managers. They are keen to maintaining good communication and relationships.
6. Celebrate results. Praise and give recognition to those who have gone the extra mile or achieved something noteworthy.
7. Broadcast successes and individuals that you think deserve to be singled out. Peer recognition really boosts morale and engagement.
8. Develop people’s careers. This is a topic worthy of several blog posts in itself, but it needs a mention here.
9. Offer perks that people want.