How to Benefit from Employee Feedback

It’s surprising the number of companies who collect employee feedback — through surveys, exit interviews, and in-depth conversations — but don’t really use this data to make changes. The point of gathering this insightful data should be to improve the company and its processes, and yet many HR managers simply shove the comment cards into […]

It’s surprising the number of companies who collect employee feedback — through surveys, exit interviews, and in-depth conversations — but don’t really use this data to make changes. The point of gathering this insightful data should be to improve the company and its processes, and yet many HR managers simply shove the comment cards into a file and never look at them again.

Does your company have a process for handling employee feedback, as well as a policy for what you’ll do to act on a suggestion or address a complaint? If not, you could have a higher turnover rate than necessary. It’s easy enough to address, if you know what information to pay attention to.

Look at What Kind of Feedback You Have

Beth N. Carvin, HR guru and CEO of retention management and metrics company Nobscot Corporation, says there’s two types of feedback a company can get:

Anecdotal feedback: an employee’s stories, complaints, and problems. This feedback is highly based on his own perceptions and experiences, and may not be entirely helpful to the company as a whole.

Analytical feedback: tends to provide a reflection of the entire organization, and is beneficial for creating change. Companies can look at aggregate data and identify trends that need addressing within specific departments.

Most companies won’t benefit much from that anecdotal feedback. It’s simply too personal and individual to incite change at the larger level.

The analytical feedback, on the other hand, is the good stuff. HR managers can look at multiple exit interviews or surveys to see where the weak points in the company are, and can make changes accordingly.

Moving from Anecdotal to Analytical Feedback

Getting more out of your employee feedback is as simple as shifting your thinking about the data you collect, says Carvin.

“For example, historically, the purpose of exit interviews has been viewed by many managers as being about understanding why a particular employee is leaving the company (and sometimes to make a counteroffer),” she says, “This is short-term, anecdotal, individual-focused thinking. To think analytically, exit interviews should be viewed as an opportunity to learn about the company. Rather than looking at each individual exit interview in a vacuum, the exit interviews should be looked at as pieces of a puzzle that come together to create a picture of employee turnover drivers.”

Carvin says exit interview data can provide a wealth of information that can help a company understand what drives turnover, as well as what can be done to improve the company.

Using the Right Tools

Spreadsheets and printed exit interview sheets are now a thing of the past, thanks to online exit interview management systems like Nobscot’s WebExit platform. With the right technology, companies can conduct exit interviews online and analyze results across the board to spot trends.

Tracking this data is only as useful as the benchmarks a company sets up. By identifying key areas you want to keep a close eye on — such as management in a specific department — looking at the exit interview results can help you quickly address any data points that fall below the benchmarks you’ve set.

Spend more time on analyzing your employee feedback, and make changes to reduce the issues, and you’ll see lower turnover and better business results.

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