Building a healthy and strong culture at the workplace should be the #1 goal of HR managers. An atmosphere of positivity encourages employee growth and higher performance – while a negative, hyper-competitive culture can stunt the growth of individual employees, lead to higher turnover rates, and much more.
One of the best ways to raise employee morale and create a more positive and happy workplace environment is with a “feedback culture”. If your employees feel free to always share what they think about your organization, management, and other employees, they are more likely to be happy and engaged with your organization.
This is very important, especially today when so many workers feel undervalued and disengaged. It’s been estimated that about 51% of the American workforce does not feel engaged, and that only 16% of workers felt truly “connected and engaged” with their employers.
And the results of this are truly staggering. According to the engagement institute, disengaged or under-engaged employees cost companies around the world between $450-$550 billion annually – due to high employee turnover, lower overall job performance, and a variety of other factors.
Clearly, a focus must be placed on increasing employee engagement, decreasing employee turnover, and fostering a positive, nurturing, employee-focused culture in your organization. But how can you do that?
That’s where feedback culture comes in. By creating a culture where feedback and honesty are valued, you can increase employee morale, build a better company, and increase job performance – all in one fell swoop.
Interested? Read on, and learn more about the basics of feedback culture. We’ll discuss what it is, why it’s important, and some basic steps you can take to create a feedback culture in your workplace or organization. Let’s get started now!
What is a feedback culture?
A feedback culture is, essentially, a workplace culture that is focused on honest feedback between employees, between employees and managers, and between managers and executives. A feedback culture is a culture where every employee feels they have the right to give feedback to another person in the organization – no matter where they may fall on your organizational chart.
This sounds pretty simple, right? A feedback culture should be easy to implement – just tell employees to be honest with one another and with their superiors. Boom! You’re done!
Naturally, that’s not quite the whole story. You see, feedback cultures take time to grow and develop. The idea of providing regular feedback to both peers and superiors can take some time to get used to.
Why? Because most companies have never had a true feedback culture. It’s just that simple. The idea takes some time and effort to get used to, because most organizations are traditionalist at heart. It’s easier to have yearly performance reviews, and ignore the need for regular feedback among employees – especially if your organization has been doing that for years.
However, building a healthy feedback culture is absolutely critical to the long-term health of your organization. There is a reason that so many large, cutting edge companies – such as Reddit, Workday, SAP America, and W.L. Gore are placing such an emphasis on the value of their feedback culture.
Why is a healthy feedback culture so important?
So, why is a healthy feedback culture important for your future organizational success? There are dozens of reasons – so we’ll just list the top ones here.
- Boosts employee engagement – A feedback culture is essential to creating an atmosphere of employee engagement. Engaged employees are more effective workers – and they’re more likely to be loyal to your company.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, workers who feel engaged with their employers are 20-25% more effective in the workplace. And according to Gallup, employees who feel engaged are 27% more likely to self-report “excellent” performance, and teams with high engagement rates are 21% more productive.
Engaged employees are not just a “nice-to-have”. If you can manage to engage with employees using your feedback culture, you will enjoy increased performance – that’s a guarantee.
- Creates a more positive workplace – Just like employee engagement, the presence of a positive and fun workplace environment has a huge impact on how well employees can perform. A workplace focused on negativity that lacks communication can seriously impact the well-being of employees, as well as their ability to perform at a high level.
The numbers reflect this, too – Employees in a positive workplace are 12% more productive, according to Fast Company. And according to the University of Warwick, employees who feel that they work in a negative workplace are 10% less effective.
Google is a prime example of the benefits of creating a more positive workplace. After launching a variety of different programs to increase employee engagement and happiness, they managed to increase employee satisfaction by 37%. In turn, this led to better workplace performance, lower turnover rates, and more.
- Decreases turnover and “brain drain” – Turnover is extremely expensive for HR managers. It’s been estimated that the cost of losing an employee is about 33% of their salary – given the amount of time, energy, and resources that must be put into finding a replacement. Because of this, companies with high turnover rates tend to be much less effective and productive than those with lower rates of employee turnover.
This phenomenon is not limited to low-level workers, either. Executives and skilled, talented specialists may leave a company if they feel like they are “treading water”, and unable to learn, improve, or move up in their position at a specific workplace. This leads to a phenomenon called “brain drain”. The most talented and skilled employees will leave to find other work, leaving behind fewer workers who can give your company a competitive edge.
A feedback culture can help address both of these issues. When workers are able to issue honest feedback, and get feedback about how they can improve, they are less likely to leave a company. In addition, a feedback culture can also allow a company to establish clear guidelines for moving up in the corporate structure – thereby addressing “brain drain”.
- Improves corporate communication – A feedback culture can help improve corporate communication with employees. When a company focuses on being open and honest with itself, it’s easier to communicate corporate objectives, goals, and areas of focus/improvement.
Again, this can have some serious benefits when it comes to employee performance. A study from McKinsey showed that clear, transparent corporate communication between internal employees can help boost productivity by as much as 25%. In addition, better corporate communication helps companies engage with employees, and build corporate loyalty more effectively.
- Helps the company improve as a whole – A feedback culture should not be limited to interactions between individuals. In fact, employees should always feel comfortable sharing feedback about how the company is doing – and where it may be able to improve. By taking these ideas into account, you can change the objectives of your company or organizational structures, or even open up new avenues of product research, or service offerings.
These are just a few of the numerous benefits of building a feedback culture at your workplace. Next, let’s discuss the steps you can take to implement a feedback culture.
How to create a feedback culture in the workplace
If you’re interested in the benefits of a feedback culture – as outlined above – you may be wondering how, exactly, to get started. Here are some basic tips that you can use to create a better feedback culture in your workplace.
- Encourage employees to come to you for feedback – To get employees to “buy n” to a workplace culture, you must “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”. That means that, even as an HR manager or an executive, you should encourage employees to come to you for feedback. You should also encourage employees to give feedback to you – this helps foster an atmosphere of openness and honesty.
- Promote peer-to-peer feedback – Peer-to-peer feedback is one of the most important aspects of a feedback culture. Ideally, you want employees to continuously give each other helpful, positive feedback – and feedback related to areas of improvement.
Peer-to-peer feedback can help individual employees feel valued, and is incredibly useful when it comes to giving feedback to underperforming employees. Higher-performing employees can mentor these workers – and give them strategies to help them succeed.
- Nurture a growth mindset – Your entire company should have a “growth mindset”. You never want to be satisfied with how well you’re doing now – you should be looking at the future. Encourage a growth mindset by emphasizing employee training and continuous learning, and providing employees with everything they need to expand their skill-sets and capabilities.
- Provide feedback training – This is very important. Feedback training should be mandatory for every employee, especially when you begin the process of adapting to a feedback culture.
Some employees may be better at giving constructive criticism and positive feedback than others. Those who do not have much experience giving feedback, or who can be blunt and somewhat rude may risk hurting the feelings of other, more thin-skinned employees.
For your feedback culture to grow, employees must be able to share honest, open feedback with one another – without feeling personally attacked or hurt by others. Feedback training allows you to provide each worker with this skill set – thereby avoiding negativity.
- Use continuous feedback rather than periodic feedback – As you may have gathered, a continuous feedback process is critical to a good workplace feedback culture. Periodic feedback – such as yearly performance reviews – don’t really have a place in a modern feedback culture. They are archaic and outdated.
Instead, focus on continuous feedback – with shorter, more informal meetings every month or two, or a project-based performance review process.
This regular, helpful feedback helps reinforce the importance of a feedback culture in your employees. And as they continue to give each other feedback, they will become more and more comfortable with the process. It will start to feel more natural.
- Emphasize openness and trust – For your feedback culture to succeed, everyone must feel able to speak their mind. Because of this, openness and trust are absolutely critical.
Your employees should feel free to share feedback with one another – and with the company – without any fear of reprisals or punishment. If you don’t take steps to ensure that this happens, your culture will fall apart.
Employees will be scared to be honest – and your workplace atmosphere may quickly turn quite negative. If this happens, it will be extremely counterproductive, and employee performance may suffer.
- Balance critical feedback with positive feedback – Your feedback culture must walk a fine line between honesty and negativity. If an employee is struggling, you should not shy away from addressing their faults. However, if you only provide critical feedback, employees may feel attacked or hurt – and they may even leave the company.
Every feedback session should include both positive and critical feedback. Encourage employees and other HR managers to start with the positives, and really emphasize areas where an employee excels. Then, they can give constructive critical feedback – without it feeling like a personal attack.
- Normalize the process of giving feedback – This is one of the biggest hurdles that each workplace must overcome in order to create a successful feedback culture – especially in the early days of the new policy.
If your employees are not used to giving feedback to one another, it will be hard to normalize the process, in some cases. You can overcome this by building feedback into normal, everyday situations.
For example, maybe you’re having a team meeting once a month to discuss an ongoing project. After the meeting, make it a habit to split your workers into groups of 2 or 3, and have a feedback session where each person can be honest about what’s going well – and what may need improvement.
That’s just one example. Do a little bit of thinking, and figure out where you can integrate the process of giving feedback – and how you can normalize it so that employees quickly become comfortable regularly giving and receiving feedback.
- Emphasize personal accountability – Personal accountability for feedback is especially important for executives and HR managers. Your employees always take their cues “from the top”. That means that, if you keep telling them how important feedback is, but then skip every feedback session to do other things, they are unlikely to believe you. They’ll follow your example – not your words.
Executives, managers, and other supervisors must be personally accountable for feedback. By showing that they are willing to adapt to this new culture from the top-down, they can inspire workers below them to change.
In addition, you and other executives should constantly be asking for – and getting – feedback from everyone, even lower-level workers. This helps you set a great example, and inspire a better feedback culture.
- Utilize multiple feedback channels – Not everyone feels comfortable with a one-on-one, face-to-face feedback session. Consider having a few different ways to give feedback – such as an online feedback platform, small group feedback sessions, or other alternatives.
By providing employees with some flexibility when it comes to giving feedback, you’ll be able to cater to those who may not be as comfortable interacting with their peers – thereby increasing engagement with your program.
As you can see, building a feedback culture at your workplace will take quite a bit of work. These are just some of the tips you can use – but if you follow them, you’re sure to find success.
Get started today – and build a better feedback culture at your workplace!
Whether you’re already beginning to implement a feedback-based culture at your workplace, or you’re just dipping your toes into the world of feedback culture, this guide is sure to help. The benefits of a positive feedback culture are too great to ignore – and with the steps we’ve outlined above, you’ll be able to begin the journey towards better corporate health.
So don’t miss out on the benefits of a feedback culture. With a feedback culture, you can more clearly outline your organizational objectives, improve the performance of all of your employees, and ensure that your workers feel loyal, engaged, and satisfied.
With this helpful guide, you’ll be able to start creating a feedback-focused culture in no time at all. Don’t fall behind other multinational organizations – take your first steps towards a workplace culture revolution today!
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