Investigating the Importance of Employee Feedback: What Are the Top Benefits?
Companies frequently overlook the importance of employee feedback in favor of other priorities, like customer satisfaction, profit-building, and brand awareness. This is a mistake.
Because employee feedback can positively impact those areas too.
Yet many companies fall short when it comes to gathering and collating feedback.
Only 12.9% of employers request feedback from their workforce every week, and 41.8% leave it as long as a year (or more!) to ask for valuable insights from their employees.
This guide uncovers the importance of feedback surveys in the workplace, including its benefits and the best ways to obtain this goldmine of free data.
🔄 What is employee feedback?
Employee feedback is the process of soliciting opinions and perspectives from employees.
Feedback can take many forms, from regular face-to-face check-ins to more formalized employee surveys and reviews.
The purpose of employee feedback is to gauge how employees feel about their work, manager, company, and career prospects. It also allows employees to share any suggestions or concerns about their work.
Feedback comes in different forms, including:
- Upward feedback - employees provide feedback to their managers about their working relationship, management style, and the company itself.
- Downward feedback - you may be familiar with the most common type of feedback. Managers give it to their direct reports about their job performance.
- Self-evaluation feedback - employees reflect on their performance and deliver these thoughts and concerns to their managers.
- Peer feedback - employees share feedback with their colleagues to provide a broader perspective about what it's like to work alongside them.
❗️The importance of employee feedback
Each of these feedback loops looks at performance from a different angle.
Together, they provide a well-rounded picture of how employees feel about their work, delivering actionable insights that employers can act on.
Let's check out some of the different types of employee feedback in more detail.
⬆️ The importance of upward feedback to a manager
Instead of opting for a one-way downward feedback stream from managers, upward feedback relies on input from their direct reports.
Delivering this type of feedback to a superior is often overlooked as a way to build positive workforce relationships.
After all, superiors know best, don't they?
But this is a crucial step, as employees are 4.6 times more likely to perform well when they feel their voice is heard.
That's data you need to pay attention to!
While it may feel daunting to give feedback to a manager, employees need to express their opinions confidently. They're the ones who see the day-to-day operations and how leadership decisions play out in real-time.
When managers are open to feedback, it builds trust and creates a more cohesive team. Plus, it can prevent minor issues from festering and becoming major problems.
"Employees who feel their leaders listen are more likely to speak up and share their ideas and perspectives. Getting feedback from employees can help you grow as a leader.
Leaders who are open to listening to employee input can reap the reward of their innovative ideas." - Ryan Foland, 4x TED speaker.
🏢 The importance of upward feedback to the company
Pulse surveys extend the potential of upward feedback further. Employees don't just provide feedback about their direct superior, but rather the company as a whole. And this is a strategy used by the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Etsy, Airbnb, and Amazon to take the pulse of their operations.
Short, regular surveys (usually weekly or bi-weekly) measure employee engagement on an ongoing basis. They track employees' feelings about their work, manager, and the company. And this data can be used to make changes in real-time, rather than waiting for an annual survey.
Use pulse and employee engagement surveys to spot trends and identify any potential issues with job satisfaction before they have a chance to impact morale or productivity.
➡️ Here's a great employee pulse survey to customize if you're just getting started.
⬇️ The importance of "downward" feedback to employees
Downward feedback is the flow of guidance from a manager or superior to their direct reports.
This type of feedback is customary for performance reviews— an annual or semi-annual meeting where a manager sits down with an employee to discuss their work over the past year.
This feedback style is helpful because it provides employees with clear guidance on what they need to work on and where they can improve.
Managers also have the opportunity to give praise for a job well done.
However, performance reviews have their drawbacks:
- Employees often dread them -- they're a source of stress due to the constructive criticism element (which arguably isn't always very constructive).
- They also only happen once or twice a year, meaning any feedback may be outdated by the time it's given.
Honestly, companies that exclusively use downward employee feedback are missing out on the benefits of other methods.
↩️ The importance of self-reviews
Self-reviews allow employees to reflect on their performance and provide feedback to their managers. This type of feedback can be done informally, through a conversation or email exchange, or as part of a more formal performance review process.
Examples of self-appraisal feedback include:
- I provide constructive feedback to my line manager.
- I keep in regular contact with my extended team and actively participate in our meetings.
- I dedicate myself to being productive in my remote role.
Self-reviews allow employees to take ownership of their career growth and enable managers to identify areas where an employee may need more support.
Self-reviews can also help to improve communication between managers and employees. They can build trust and create a more collaborative environment by openly sharing feedback.
👥 The importance of peer feedback
Peer feedback is when employees give and receive feedback from their colleagues to provide a broader perspective about working alongside a team member.
Getting peer inputs is a meaningful way to validate upward and downward feedback between a manager and their direct report.
As a powerful tool for improving team dynamics and communication, peer feedback also allows employees to share feedback in a safe and supportive environment.
When done well, peer feedback can help to improve team morale and performance. It can also identify any areas where team members need more development.
➡️ Stuck on how to implement peer reviews in your organization? These peer review examples and phrases will help you out!
📊 What are the benefits of creating a feedback culture for the whole company?
There are several feedback benefits for employees and managers when incorporated into all levels of the company.
Research reveals that 69% of employees actively work harder when their efforts are recognized with feedback.
Employee recognition helps to identify employee strengths, while constructive feedback pinpoints areas for improvement.
Feedback also encourages a growth mindset, where employees are happy to hone their skills.
"Criticism is part of learning and growth. It means that you are taking initiative to learn something new and grow. If you are not getting criticized, it means you are not taking enough RISK to learn something new and to grow." - Sanjeev Himachali, consultant and talent strategist.
Tip: Ensure that your employees see their development as an ongoing journey rather than a destination.
Improving retention rates
24% of employees consider quitting their jobs if their managers don't provide good performance feedback.
On the flip side, an effective feedback process creates a more positive working environment, which in turn leads to improved employee retention rates.
Put simply: employees who feel valued and supported with actionable feedback are more likely to stay with a company for the long term.
Giving and receiving feedback can help to build trust between employees and managers.
When feedback is open and honest, it can create a more collaborative and supportive environment.
Tip: If this is something you offer, make it clear from your recruitment and onboarding stages – this is a huge selling point for new candidates.
Feedback can help to identify any areas where employees may be feeling stuck.
By openly brainstorming suggestions, employees are more likely to feel comfortable exploring their creativity.
We all love to receive positive feedback, but don't underestimate the power of receiving negative feedback — it can still spark the brain into action.
Charlan Nemeth, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and author of "In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business," explains:
"Our minds need to be stimulated; we need to be challenged; we need to have a sense of engagement with ideas and with others. We search for information that corroborates the majority position, and we do not consider alternatives. In other words, when that happens, we think in narrow, biased ways."
Encouraging feedback can lead to greater employee engagement, with 68% of employees who receive accurate, regular feedback feeling fulfilled in their roles.
Employees who believe their opinions are valued are more likely to be motivated and invested in their work.
Bonusly research proves that a whopping 94.7% of workers who identify as "highly engaged" also state their employer takes their feedback seriously.
Boosting workplace communication
Creating a feedback culture improves communication between employees and managers. It can also encourage employees to share feedback with their colleagues to develop a more collaborative environment.
However, we must be mindful of the best ways to deliver feedback.
Debra Roberts, an Interpersonal communications expert, and author, recommends that we:
Celebrate in public: "When an employee has excelled, made a significant effort, or demonstrated their commitment, celebrate and acknowledge them publicly."
Criticize in private: "Public shaming is toxic, abusive, and disrespectful. It doesn't benefit you or the organization because it closes the door to open communication and creates a psychologically unsafe environment for all."
👀 How does feedback fit into your big picture?
So, you know feedback's essential, and you want to make the most of its benefits.
But how do you incorporate it meaningfully into your organization's culture?
- Feedback as the foundation of your performance system - explore with upward, downward, peer reviews, self-appraisals, and 360-review systems to find the best fit.
- Feedback as the foundation of your growth and development program or development process - nurture your talent by identifying training and development needs based on their feedback and self-appraisals. Set goals and track progress against those goals.
- Feedback as the foundation of an open and collaborative workplace culture: encourage a culture of feedback by modeling the behavior you want to see and motivating employees to give and receive feedback openly.
⚙️ How can we drive feedback culture?
While it may seem like a daunting task, there are several things leaders can do to encourage a company culture filled with honest feedback that decreases the chance of employees looking for work elsewhere:
- Lead by example - if you want your employees to share feedback openly, you need to model that behavior. Give feedback regularly, provide specific examples, and encourage others to do the same.
- Encourage a diversity of opinion - prompt employees to share their ideas and perspectives, even if they differ from the majority opinion. More diverse opinions will help to stimulate creativity and innovation.
- Make it safe to speak up - create an environment where employees feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback without fear of repercussions. Providing anonymous feedback is one way to do this, but the driving point is that all feedback is given with respect.
- Be open to feedback - let your employees know that you're willing to be on the receiving end of actionable feedback. And ensure you take it on board!
➡️ Create a feedback culture that drives growth and performance
Zavvy fully understands the importance of feedback in the workplace, and we've created a 360-degree solution to support companies with theirs.
We strongly believe that feedback shouldn't be a once-a-year checkbox exercise.
Instead, it should be part of a thriving feedback culture, allowing you to:
- stay connected with your workforce,
- gain valuable input, and
- improve employee performance and communication.
When it comes to effective employee feedback, one size does not fit all.
Organizations have different cultures, values, and goals, which is precisely where our feedback tool comes in.
We offer a customizable solution that your company can tailor to your specific needs.
Whether you need to:
- Send out employee surveys,
- Encourage self-appraisals, or
- Establish a peer review cycle,
Our templates and software will enable you to establish a continuous growth cycle.
Schedule a demo with our experts and discover how we've helped other organizations create a feedback culture to be proud of.