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Why feedback is important in the workplace

Why feedback is important in the workplace

There are many reasons why feedback is important in the workplace. It enables organisations to know the views of employees. This information can then be used to bring about improvements. A commitment to gaining feedback typically leads to employees feeling more connected to the organisation which in turn tends to result in higher retention rates, lower absence levels and higher productivity.

This blog will explore forms of feedback at work, why feedback is important in the workplace, and consider what steps could be taken to ensure that feedback influences what happens next

What types of feedback are there at work?

The ways in which an organisation chooses to gain feedback generally depends on its size and its resources. However, it is important to recognise that feedback can take many forms. Perhaps these are comments in a team meeting, remarks made to a line manager, views expressed in a survey (to name but three).  It is important to remember that feedback can be given at an unexpected time or place, and it should not be ignored simply because it was not provided in a particular way.       

Reasons why feedback is important in the workplace

1. Feedback increases staff retention

 

It is common for employees to believe that giving their views about their workplace would not make any difference because, even if there was an opportunity to give feedback, nothing meaningful would be done with it and nothing would change. Feeling this way is likely to prompt employees to feel that ‘enough is enough’ and to ultimately move to an organisation with a different mindset. Whereas, organisations that are in tune with their employees, and swiftly respond to concerns, are likely to have staff stay with them for longer.

 

2. Feedback increases productivity

 

Gaining feedback, and responding to it in a meaningful way, shows that an organisation cares about what employees think and feel. Employees are then more likely to feel valued and be motivated to help the organisation to succeed.

 

3. Feedback lowers absence rates

 

There are many reasons for absence such as illness, injury etc. Some absences will be due to things entirely outside of an organisation’s control. However, there are other occasions when the actions of an organisation can significantly impact on absence rates, an employee being absent due to stress at work is an obvious example.

Employees are less likely to be absent from work if they felt positively about the organisation. Being listened to, and knowing that they will be treated properly, is essential in order to establish a positive relationship between the organisation and its employees, and being receptive to feedback is part of a positive workplace culture.

 

4. Feedback provides other perspectives

 

Those making decisions on behalf of an organisation are likely to have a strong view on how the organisation is performing. Those people may well point to trends such as increases in revenue or profit margin to show what progress has been made, but perhaps other things are not regarded as so important. For example, perhaps revenue has increased but so has the staff turnover rate (which may be a sign that all is not well).

 Gaining feedback means that an organisation is not only aware of the financials but is also in tune with the views of its workforce. These insights can be invaluable when deciding on next steps as feedback from employees offers a true picture of what things are like and what people think.

 

5. Feedback showcases why the organisation is different from others

 

There is intense competition to attract the most talented people. Highlighting positive views, or survey results, can be an effective way for an organisation to stand out from the crowd.

What can be done to ensure that feedback makes a difference?

1. Encourage feedback in the workplace

 

There are some organisations that simply do not regard feedback as important. Perhaps this lack of interest is clear from the culture of the place: it may be obvious that nothing will change so it is pointless saying anything, or maybe there is an annual survey, but the questions are done in a way that prevents employees saying what they want to. For example, asking whether you agree or disagree with a collection of statements often does not enable the employee to say what is wrong. What if the issue on the employee’s mind is not covered by the statements on the feedback form?

As said earlier, there are a number of reasons why feedback is important in the workplace. With that in mind, there are lots of things that an organisation can do to encourage it. For example, highlight that feedback is welcome. This could be said at team meetings, highlighted in policies, newsletters, or other material such as an employee handbook.  To find out more, view our blog what is an employee handbook?

Another simple way of encouraging feedback is to be flexible in how it can be received. For example, it would be restrictive to say that feedback had to be received in a particular way such as in writing to a particular person or department.   

2. See the gathering of feedback as an ongoing process rather than an event

 

 Organisations may want feedback, but there is much that needs to be considered to achieve positive outcomes. For example, how will feedback be requested and managed? How will the information be used? Will the survey results be published, be content for a newsletter, or will the statistics be used for promotional material? What information will be gathered? For example, will there be  scoring in relation to a number of statements, or will there be a greater focus on employees being able to provide their own thoughts? What action will be taken as a result of the feedback? What if the feedback reveals things that are negative?

 

3. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback

It is natural to want feedback, and to be disappointed when negative views are received, but it is important to remember what the purpose of gaining feedback is: the purpose of feedback is not to gain compliments but is to provide information to learn from and to ultimately bring about improvement.

Negative feedback may be difficult to hear but it is of great value: it provides a perspective that may well have not come to light otherwise and should be seen as a catalyst for positive change.

Plotkin & Chandler provides HR consultancy and training relating to feedback. Whether you would like to implement a process to gain feedback, guidance is needed to draft questions which provide valuable insights, or your organisation needs advice on implementing an action plan after receiving feedback.

To discuss your needs, and the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us on info@plotkinandchandler.com

 

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