August 9, 2015

A Brief Guide to Collecting Epic Employee Feedback

Collecting employee feedback is crucial for any business looking to stay competitive.

Feedback can help guide your decision-making and point out issues that may improve your company culture. It will also help for measuring employee satisfaction among your employees.

Understanding what employees think is incredibly valuable, so let’s look at the best ways you can gather ideas from your employees.

Here are ways to collect employee feedback

  1. Keep Your Survey Short
  2. Use Open-Ended Questions
  3. Only Ask What’s Necessary
  4. Keep It Neutral

How To Collect Feedback

How can you make sure that you’re collecting amazing feedback from your employees?

There are many different ways to obtain employee feedback, but companies often make mistakes when starting this process.

Most companies will use a survey tool to collect feedback, but before asking your employees any questions, take a step back and figure out what questions to ask.

The way a question is worded, its length, its answer type (qualitative vs. quantitative) all have an effect on how an employee will answer.

You should have clearly defined goals about why you’re collecting this feedback, and what your expected outcome is, otherwise you may be doing more damage, by not having the employees heard.

There’s nothing worse than asking employees for feedback and not acting on it.

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when creating your initial survey.

Research from Cornell University found that there will always be a small percentage of people who will lie on your survey. This is even more likely to happen when the questions are about their behavior or beliefs.

Also, research has shown that some people will give inaccurate answers by mistake. The research says that predicting the future is almost impossible in a survey context.

Luckily, there are ways to help decrease the likelihood of this happening.

  1. Keep Your Survey Short

    Survey fatigue is a real problem, and research has shown that the abandon rate for surveys is significantly higher when they take more than 7 minutes to complete.

    Not only should the survey be short, but the questions themselves should be short. Keep the language as simple and concise as possible.

    Also, don’t ask more than one question at a time. Doing this will only lead to confusion and an unclear answer. This is an example of what not to do:

    “How was the training you received? Was the instructor knowledgeable? What could they have done differently?”

  2. Use Open-Ended Questions

    While multiple choice questions can sometimes be good, you’ll get the highest quality feedback in the form of open text. Encourage employees to be open and honest in their answers.

    Sometimes a big text box can be intimidating to users, so what we do in Officevibe, is ask a contextual follow-up question. As an example:

    “On a scale from 0-10, how happy are you at work this week?”

    and then we follow up with an open-ended question like:

    “Is there anything we can do to make you happier at work?”

    Since the open-ended question is so contextual, the response rate and quality of the answer is much better.

  3. Only Ask What’s Necessary

    When you’re done creating your survey, go back and cut it in half. When you’re done cutting it in half, go back and cut that in half.

    It’s important to be very strict with only asking what’s necessary, and removing anything that will lead to survey fatigue or abandonment.

  4. Keep It Neutral

    Keeping it neutral is easier said than done, but you want to avoid any biases in the questions you ask. You have to be very careful because the way you word a question can lead people to respond a certain way.

    Here’s an example of what not to do:

    “We updated the design of our intranet to make it easier to navigate. What do you think of the slick new design?”

    This example will lead people towards responding a certain way. Try to keep your wording more neutral. Something like “What do you think of the new intranet?” is much better.

Real-World Example: GSOFT

GSOFT, a Montreal-based software development firm (and the parent company of Officevibe) used Officevibe’s poll feature to collect specific ideas on how to improve the well-being of their employees. Here’s how they did it.

Using Officevibe’s employee engagement software, they were able to consistently measure several metrics that influence employee engagement.

They noticed that the “wellness” metric (which measures things like energy levels, eating habits, etc. and have a direct link to productivity) was their lowest scoring metric for a few weeks in a row.

What’s important to note here is that they waited a few weeks to make sure the data was accurate.

Many companies, especially if they’re starting to measure engagement more frequently, will react too quickly to what they see in the reports. Give the data a few weeks to normalize before making any rash decisions.

They decided to implement a few initiatives, like offering to pay for gym memberships. The wellness metric improved, but not significantly enough.

They created an open-ended poll question to collect specific ideas for improvement from their employees. The question was “what can we do to improve our wellness at work?”

wellness question in officevibe

That question received an 82% response rate (89 out of 109 employees) and they got some amazing ideas on what they could do directly from employees.

It’s still too early to tell what the results will be, but now they have tons of great ideas that employees are sure to like.

Feedback eBook

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Examples Of Questions To Ask Employees

All of these happen to be open-ended questions. Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll get the most value using open-ended questions. Here are a few examples of qualitative questions to ask employees.

  1. What is your favorite thing about working at {Company}?
  2. What could {Company} do to help you grow even more in your career?
  3. How do you think the relationships between you and your co-workers could be improved?
  4. What do you think {Company} could do to improve your happiness (either at work or home)?
  5. What could {Company} do to make you more aligned with the values and the mission of the company?

Most of these questions are about improving the day-to-day life of an employee and showing employees that the company cares about them and wants them to be successful.

That alone would get me to answer these questions with as much detail as possible.

As a manager, keep reminding employees that you’re doing this with their best interests in mind.

How Are You Collecting Employee Feedback?

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