Earning Employee Input to Improve Engagement & Innovation

Look around you – are your colleagues yawning through meetings? Are your employees checking their Facebooks? Are managers playing Tetris on their iPhones?

The American workplace has an engagement problem.

When 600 HR pros were asked, “Do you think it’s a good idea to engage your workforce on major issues facing the company?” 97% said yes.

When asked if their firm was doing a good job getting employee feedback, only 38% agreed.

Talk about a disconnect! But if your suggestion box is gathering cobwebs and only crickets answer when you ask the group for questions, how can you get employees more involved?

The Good News

You may already be on the right path – Gallup found that women leaders are overall better at engaging their employees, largely because women leaders tend to provide more feedback. Employees working for women are:

  • 1.26 times more likely to say that someone at work actively encourages their development,
  • 1.17 times more likely to say they recently received recognition for good work, and
  • 1.29 times more likely to say that someone has talked to them about their progress recently.

When these conversations are more likely, employees will more often respond with their feedback in kind.

Open Dialogue

If you are offering your insights, encouragement and recognition, people see that they matter to you and that you’re willing to start that conversation. You’re being clear about your feelings and the business impact of their work, so they feel much more involved and important.

This transparency opens the door for more feedback, since they’ll no longer feel they don’t know enough to contribute.

(Photo via wocintechchat.com)

Listen Up

Employee feedback will fall flat instantly if employees don’t feel like they’re heard. You can’t implement every idea your team offers, but it’s essential that you not only request feedback, but actively and visibly consider the feedback you receive.

If you can’t use an idea immediately, be sure to follow up and let employees know how it was used or why it wasn’t. Even if it is a bad idea for legitimate reasons, you want to hear their next one – it could be a gem.

If they don’t feel heard, their ideas might stop coming.

Survey Says

Ideally, you’ll want to capture every great idea your team has, which means using every channel available to you. While most valuable employee input will come face-to-face or in a meeting, surveys shouldn’t be disregarded.

The main thing a good survey offers is anonymity – while employees should feel safe and comfortable putting less-popular ideas, you don’t want to alienate those that don’t. Offering an online survey or an anonymous comment box will keep that option open.

The Feedback Loop

Employee feedback isn’t a suggestion box or a Q&A after a presentation, it’s a conversation. And the more information and feedback you offer, the more you’ll receive.

This open dialogue not only improves employee engagement, it also brings your company fresh new ideas – some of which could change the face of your business.