How To Improve Your Small Business by Gathering Feedback From Employees

Paving the road to success for a business takes more than we think, but there’s an often-neglected element that could help expedite improvements for your business.

That is employee insights.

Most small business owners work really hard to collect customer feedback. But, they may not spend as much effort collecting feedback from employees.

While employee feedback is crucial for the success of a business, companies often place it lower on the priority scale. Troy Stevenson, former vice president of customer loyalty at eBay, rightly puts it:

“For every dollar spent on employee feedback, companies spend hundreds of dollars on customer feedback.”

Without a doubt, soliciting feedback from employees will have a significant influence on your success. Let’s see how it can help improve your small business.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Importance of Employee Feedback

Ways To Collect Honest Feedback From Your Employees

How To Get Feedback From Employees

Using Employee Feedback To Improve Your Business

Final Thoughts: How To Get Feedback From Employees To Improve Your Business

Importance of Employee Feedback

It’s essential to collect feedback from employees
Image Source: Sosiukin

Your employees are some of the biggest stakeholders in your business. They know crucial aspects of your business in and out. Therefore, their insights are valuable to improve your business.

Your team members can give you golden advice because:

  • They are well-versed with your business.
  • They know your customers well.
  • They know your process and challenges.

Moreover, receiving feedback from employees is beneficial in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • Providing you with insider knowledge of your business’s performance.
  • Creating an open-communication culture in your company, improving the overall work environment.
  • Improving employee satisfaction, thus boosting employee productivity.
  • Helping you understand bottlenecks in the business that you may have overlooked.

However, reaping these benefits is easier said than done. Employees face many barriers in sharing their genuine feedback.

As a small business owner, you need to understand the following challenges:

Factors That Prevent Employees From Sharing Their Feedback

  • Fear of retribution: Employees often keep their opinions to themselves as they fear potential consequences. After all, negative feedback is sometimes met with hostility across many industries.
  • Time constraints: Your employees are super-busy, and filling a survey might seem an additional task to them. If you have complex, time-consuming surveys, employees will hesitate to answer them.
  • Lack of action: If your employees feel that their feedback will go to waste, they won’t bother to provide it in the first place.
  • Disconnected questions: Businesses often have a one-size-fits-all strategy when they create surveys. Often, employees find questions too broad or irrelevant.

With these hurdles in mind, only one question remains — How to encourage feedback from employees?

Ways To Collect Honest Feedback From Your Employees

You Need To Make Your Employees Comfortable to Share Their Feedback

Receiving feedback is a two-way street. You need to create a company culture that values feedback. You also need to make sure the feedback process is smooth and comfortable.

Here’s how you can get feedback from employees without it being a burden to them.

Provide an Option To Be Anonymous

Whenever you seek feedback from employees, make sure you give them a chance to be anonymous. Hiring a third party to conduct surveys is a great way to offer anonymity to your employees.

If you choose to avoid anonymity, you should never forget that no matter how bad an employee’s genuine feedback is, it should not affect their careers.

Share Your Pain Points

Many of your employees might love solving business challenges. While soliciting feedback from employees, you should tell them what problems you are trying to solve.

By sharing your pain points, you let them know that even if you are the leader, you are also human. It will motivate your employees to be more helpful.

Ask Them About Their Challenges

Employee feedback is not just to improve your business. You can also use it to improve employee satisfaction. Just like you share your challenges, ask them about theirs. In exchange for their insights, assure them you will address their issues.

Show Your Employees Their Feedback Matters

How would you feel if someone asked you for feedback and then completely ignored your suggestions? It’d probably be bothersome or painful. If you collect feedback from employees and fail to act on it, they will feel the same way.

After receiving feedback from employees, you should act quickly. It will encourage your employees to provide feedback in the future.

Encourage Your Employees To Provide Feedback by Creating a Feedback Culture
Image Source: ©onephoto

Give and Take Feedback

You need to provide genuine feedback to your employees. If you spend time understanding their work and growth areas, they will return the favor.

Giving constructive feedback and enabling career growth should be your go-to practices.

Make It Easy To Provide Feedback

Instead of going for a mammoth, end-of-year survey, try to gather real-time feedback. Your feedback channels should be easy and fun to use.

A few things you can try are:

  • Quick surveys
  • Online rating systems
  • Always-on feedback channels
  • Skip-level meetings.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are many other popular feedback methods for employees available.

Let’s take a closer look at them below. 

How To Get Feedback From Employees

  • Employee Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Employer review websites
  • Meetings and Conferences
  • Continuous Feedback Systems
  • Suggestion Boxes

These are well-known methods to get feedback from employees. Let’s see what they have to offer.

Employee Surveys

Surveys Are the Most Popular Method of Collecting Employee Feedback
Image Source: ©Andrey Popov

Surveys are one of the most popular feedback methods in the workplace. Most businesses gather information from employees through various surveys.

For example:

  • Employee engagement surveys
  • New employee surveys
  • Pulse surveys
  • Benefits surveys

Before designing a survey, you need to set your goals. Crafting your questions is another important task. They need to be focused, meaningful and action-oriented. Make sure you include open-ended questions that allow employees to elaborate on their previous answers.

If you’re wondering how to start a survey, many platforms provide the feature to conduct employee surveys, including Survey Monkey, TINYpulse and 15Five.

Interviews

Interviews Help You Receive Individual Feedback From Your Employees
Image Source – Tumisu from Pixabay

While surveys are good for collecting employee feedback in bulk, interviews help you receive individual feedback from employees to managers. However, Interviews aren’t anonymous, so you need to ensure employees are comfortable sharing their feedback.

Interviews need not be only between a manager and their direct reports. You can have several interview types:

  • One-on-one interviews: These interviews happen at regular intervals between managers and employees. It helps understand the day-to-day issues in the workplace.
  • Stay Interviews:  Businesses often conduct interviews with their top talent to understand what motivates them to stay in the company. It also helps you understand what you need to improve to retain your top employees.
  • Exit Interviews: Many think exit interviews are just a formality. But in reality, it’s crucial to collect feedback from employees who are leaving your organization. They help you correct issues and bring about cultural changes that may boost employee retention.

Employer Review Websites

Employees now have the option to review their employers on online websites. These websites let employees provide anonymous feedback.

Without a doubt, it’s not a good feeling to get burned on public platforms. So, you must stay on top of online reviews.

You can do so by:

  • Claiming your business page on the review websites.
  • Paying close attention to employee feedback.
  • Making sure you address the grievances quickly.

In addition, you should provide employees ample opportunity to share their criticism directly before they go to an online website.

Meetings and Conferences

Conferences like all-hands meetings are good to get a general pulse of your employees. While you may get a broad spectrum of comments, you might be able to use at least some of them.

Gathering feedback through meetings is very useful for small businesses. Encourage your employees to talk about their work and issues during formal meetings or informal gatherings.

Continuous Feedback Systems

Many companies use artificial intelligence (AI) powered feedback systems. These systems help employees share instant feedback rather than waiting for surveys or interviews.

Many tools are available for collecting continuous feedback. For example, companies including Leena.ai and peopleHum provide AI-powered human resource chatbots.

AI-Based Human Resource Chatbots Are an Always-on Feedback Channel
Screenshot

Suggestion Boxes

The good old suggestion boxes are relevant even in this digital age. They are especially handy for small businesses. Suggestion boxes help employees give feedback without leaving a digital footprint.

Make sure you keep suggestion boxes in areas that don’t attract crowds. A suggestion box in a crowded breakout area might discourage employees from coming forward.

Using Employee Feedback To Improve Your Business

You Need To Act On the Employee Feedback To Derive Maximum Benefit

So, you have got great feedback from your employees. Now what? You need to act upon the feedback.

Analyze The Feedback

Employee feedback is, after all, data. You need to analyze the data to make sense of it.

Feedback analysis includes:

  • Collating the results
  • Finding trends or patterns
  • Identifying pain points

Once you analyze the employee feedback, you need to publish your survey results. Your employees have the right to know them, and they may also lead to further discussions.

Act Upon The Feedback

Once you have enough data points, you need to translate the survey results into actionable items. That might involve quick changes and long-term business plans.

Based on survey results, you might be able to identify improvements in:

  • Business processes
  • Employee benefits
  • Employee-manager relationships
  • Organization culture
  • Learning and development programs

Final Thoughts: How To Get Feedback From Employees To Improve Your Business

You need to listen to your employee just the way you listen to your customers. It’s crucial for the success of your business.

Your employees know your business in and out, and their feedback is a gold mine of ideas. Often, employees have barriers to share their feedback. You need to nurture a feedback culture that appreciates positive feedback and constructive criticism.

You can use several methods to gather effective employee feedback, and it’s also crucial to analyze and act upon their feedback to show them it’s valuable.

Are there any other tips we missed? Let us know what has worked for you and your company in the comments section below or tweet @Bluehost.

Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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