One of the few good things that has come out of the recent pandemic is the attention being paid now to employee experience. Yes, it relates to the bottom line – recent studies have shown that having engaged employees can result in a more than 140% performance advantage over competitors – but we think it’s about more than that. The pandemic led people to ask the question: what am I doing with my life? What am I doing that has purpose? It rightly put health workers and educators in the spotlight, and made the rest of us wonder, what am I contributing?
Before the pandemic, when we talked to organisations about employee engagement, we tended to find ourselves going down the road of an employee survey. We regularly survey customers to find out how happy or unhappy they are, why not do the same for employees? But employee surveys are rife with difficulty. Employees who are not engaged are likely to be cynical, or even hostile, to the survey invite. If your company culture isn’t already one of open communication and trust, employees are likely to hide their true feelings, or avoid the survey altogether. Your employees might worry about anonymity, and whether their negative comments will be used against them. Response rates might be low, leading to repeated invites, leading to employees feeling harassed and put upon.
It doesn’t mean employee surveys can’t be done, and done well, but it does mean that the process might not be fast, and it might not be painless.
What if there was another way to improve employee engagement using feedback? If you’re already seeking feedback from customers (and you should be), maybe you’re paying most of your attention to the negative scores and comments. This is understandable – you want to know what’s going wrong, and what to fix. But what if you paid more attention to the good feedback you’re currently getting, and what if you made more of an effort to share that with employees?
Good feedback can be extremely valuable when shared and used as a tool for training, motivation, and inspiration. Show employees that their work is having an impact beyond performance reviews and bonuses. Maybe they were kind to a customer when that customer was having a stressful day, and the customer was extremely grateful. Maybe they helped an elderly or vulnerable customer with something that felt overwhelming to them, or made something that might have been time-consuming a breeze. Customers love to reward great service with praise, but this praise is often not shared with the very people who earned it.
Recently we posted a video showing how we use good feedback to encourage employee engagement. The key to these videos is that we include the actual voices of happy customers, talking about how a recent interaction has positively affected them. You can often hear the smile in the customer's voice, or even, a slight hitch in their voice when the care and attention provided by the employee has moved them almost to tears. Employees who receive feedback like this are more likely to go home with a spring in their step, and more likely to work harder the next day for the customer, and to feel that the work they do every day is appreciated, and has purpose. We think that regardless of the bottom line, that is always a good thing.