How to ask for employee feedback

Question mark on a pink background. Image by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash. Thanks Towfiqu!

Make sure you ask nicely. That’s it, that’s the blog.

No, in all seriousness –

Why is employee feedback important?

Employee feedback helps you to:

  • Identify areas for improvement – find problems & drive innovation with fresh perspectives from the shop floor
  • Show employees their voice matters – build a culture of community, better engage employees & boost wellbeing
  • Retain & attract top talent – an excellent company culture is what makes people stick with an organisation through hard times, whilst helping to pull in new employees from your competitors

Barriers to employee feedback

So what gets in the way of employees giving feedback? Here are a few of the barriers:

Don’t ask, don’t get

To get people to give feedback, you’ve usually got to make it pretty obvious you want it. If you’re already getting a lot of feedback, take a look at where it’s coming from – is it the louder, more confident, outspoken employees? Do you get the same level of input from the quiet ones? People need to be asked, and they need an easy way of giving you their answer.

Psychological safety

This is an umbrella term for: lack of trust, fear of consequence, trepidation of retribution…you get the picture. Basically, people need to feel safe and comfortable before they can open up about how they really feel.

In the everyday world, it’s complicated enough establishing psychological safety, but when you add in all the extra dynamics of the workplace – office politics/promotional opportunities/upcoming redundancies – you’ve got a far more slippery fish on your hands.

Lack of anonymity

No matter how hard you work on your company culture, there are always going to be things that are very hard for employees to say without the protection of anonymity. Plus, the hardest things to say tend to also be the most important to hear. So if your team don’t feel like your survey link or problem box gives them a 100% anonymity guarantee, then whether or not that’s the case, those seeds of doubt will get in the way of you and your most valuable employee feedback.

Getting employee feedback: The Cheatsheet

Enough already! How do you get the damn thing? Well…

Give an easy way to respond

Steer clear of time-swallowing annual surveys that gather dusk on desks until employees have a moment to skim through them in a hurry – or risk survey fatigue skewing your results.

Make sure your survey appears as anonymous as it is

There are a number of factors that can plant seeds of doubt as to the anonymity of a questionnaire – from white-labelling to sending unique links – we’ve written a whole post explaining what to steer clear of.

When you get feedback, take action

And shout about it! Employees who see (and are reminded of) their thoughts being taken seriously are going to keep giving you the insight you need to improve their engagement & your company culture.

Go forth on your quest! Return with feedback in hand

Best of luck out there! Remember, one in the hand is worth two in the bush. You can’t lay hens without any hay. Something of that nature.


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