Using Employee Feedback to Shape HR Strategy and Drive Success

Using Employee Feedback to Shape HR Strategy and Drive Success

May 31, 2023

By Kelley Briggs
If you haven’t asked your employees what’s important to them lately, now is the time. We see a critical need for organizations to develop ongoing processes for gathering — and acting on — employee feedback.

Ignore your employees and they’ll go away. Just ask Elon Musk whose heavy-handed leadership as he took the helm at Twitter resulted in a mass exodus of employees — and not just the ones he asked to leave.

If you haven’t asked your employees what’s important to them lately, now is the time. We see a critical need for organizations to develop ongoing processes for gathering — and acting on — employee feedback.

It’s no longer simply a “nice to do” — if it ever was — it’s now a need to do. Employee feedback can help effectively shape HR strategy to drive employee engagement and retention. And when employee engagement rises, better business outcomes follow, like productivity and profitability.

Data holds the key to driving the kind of business decisions needed to excel in an increasingly ambiguous and ever changing business environment. Accurately collecting data and using the intel gathered to identify actionable steps to make needed improvements can fuel retention, representing the difference between building a successful and sustainable business and mediocrity.

That’s not just a business cliché. It’s backed by research: companies that seek and act on feedback from their workforce see employee engagement rates of 80% — compared to employee engagement rates of only 40% when they fail to do this. Gallup reports that engaged employees are 18% more productive and that organizations with engaged employees are 23% more profitable.

Here are some fresh insights on how to incorporate and use employee feedback to help shape your HR strategy.

Keep it Timely and Real

In the past, collecting feedback from employees was often a long and painful annual process. The once-a-year annual employee satisfaction survey (or, renamed in recent years, the employee engagement survey) was manually administered and managed. And highly ineffective. Why?

  • By the time the data was gathered and the insights analyzed, the results were dated.
  • The relevance of the data was largely skewed by what was top of mind for employees at the time they took the survey — whether good or bad.

So, even those organizations committed to taking action based on this annual feedback were subject to the high potential that the actions taken really had no relevance in the current environment.

How does this relate? Retention.  34% of employees say that their managers don’t listen when they voice their opinions and point to this as a key factor in making the decision to leave their jobs.

Collecting employee feedback in real-time is now a best practice. If you want to know what’s wrong in your organization, go right to the source — your people. Give them a voice to provide honest feedback and you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse of culture in real time, as it happens. But it is critical to do so anonymously, so there is no fear of repercussions for anything shared.

Connects, Inspirus’ employee engagement technology platform, provides organizations with a tool that can make collecting employee feedback a breeze. Employee Voice is integrated right into the Connects platform. The tool gives employees the ability to share their feedback anonymously, 24/7, so they feel heard and valued – key ingredients to employee engagement. Leaders can get real-time feedback so they can address concerns before they become major issues and adjust their people strategy on the fly. It's a win-win.

Focus on Essential Metrics

A report from Sage polled 500 HR and C-suite leaders from global organizations and found that 94% of C-suite executives get 'people data' from HR functions, but only 38% say their HR teams use that data to provide insights and recommendations into people strategy. As a result, the C-suite is hesitant to use data to help make business decisions concerning company culture and the employee experience.

HR teams can increase their influence on leadership and the C-suite by collecting real, usable data via employee feedback. These insights can provide tremendous value in developing people strategies that will improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention:

  • Identifying areas for improvement: Employee feedback data can help HR leaders identify areas where the organization is falling short and needs improvement. This can include issues with communication, leadership, or company culture.
  • Increasing employee engagement: By soliciting and acting on employee feedback, HR leaders can increase employee engagement and satisfaction. This can lead to improved productivity, lower turnover rates, and increased retention rates.
  • Improving retention rates: High turnover rates can be costly for organizations. By analyzing employee feedback data, HR leaders can identify the factors that contribute to turnover and take steps to address them.
  • Enhancing the employee experience: Employee feedback data can help HR leaders understand what employees value and what they need to be successful. This can help organizations create a thriving culture that enhances the employee experience.
  • Driving business outcomes: By using employee feedback data to make data-driven decisions, HR leaders can drive business outcomes such as increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction, and higher employee productivity.

Capturing data points from the different stages of the employee journey and leveraging those metrics can power business decisions.

Using Neuroscience

A strategy that is grounded in neuroscience focuses on both employee engagement and employee happiness

  • Employee engagement activities focus on the head: they involve the rational and reflective brain reactions that seek meaning and purpose, clarity, and personal growth.
  • Employee happiness focuses on the heart: the instinctive and emotional brain reactions that seek safety, freedom, knowledge, and relationships.

By prioritizing both employee engagement and happiness as part of a holistic, people strategy, Gallup found organizations improved employee retention, increased productivity, and were able to drive more positive business outcomes. So, a strategy that focuses on both employee engagement and happiness creates a positive work environment that fosters employee well-being, satisfaction, and productivity and leads to improved business outcomes such as increased revenue and profitability.

When neuroscience methodology is used, measurement of how your people are thinking and feeling becomes objective and quite useful. Inspirus is a trailblazer in this area, with our partnership with The Happiness Index.

Recognize the Landscape is Holistic

Typical employee engagement models fail to give a complete picture of workplace culture because they don’t measure the entire landscape. Too often, they focus on a limited set of metrics, such as employee satisfaction or productivity, without considering other factors that contribute to workplace culture, such as leadership, communication, diversity, and organizational values.

A baseline survey to assess the cultural health of your company is a great starting point. The results will objectively show what’s going on in every corner of your organization and in every critical area of impact — from diversity to wellness to values, organizational change, culture, and more. Once you discover where your cultural strengths and weaknesses lie, you can set out to specifically craft initiatives to enhance those strengths and improve the areas of weakness.

When you understand what makes employees happy and engaged — what drives them — you can make the right adjustments that improve your organization's cultural health and send signals to your employees that you hear them and are open to taking action.

One solution our clients love: the cultural assessment survey integrated within Connects, in tandem with human insight partner The Happiness Index. It is administered anonymously, boosting the odds that employees will participate and be truthful, without fear of repercussions.

Finally, did you know that there is one very simple thing you can do for your employees that will boost engagement as well as their likelihood of continuing to provide feedback regularly? Share survey results with them. That has been shown to increase participation rates for future surveys. And it’s a very tangible way to show them you heard them and you’re committed to improvement.