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Tag Archive for employee feedback

Employee Feedback Gone Wrong

 

watching

 

Employee feedback is important to the success of a company; simply put, gathering feedback from your employees can give insight into many areas of the customer experience, including:

  • Where employees feel they are not supported
  • Issues with morale, management, or loyalty
  • Great ideas and insight into ways to make the customer experience stronger – after all, employees are on the front lines and have a unique insight that upper management may not
  • Customer perceptions- customers like to talk to employees, and they may hear a pattern of similar concerns/strengths regarding the company during daily interactions

I’m a huge proponent of employee feedback and enjoy working with clients on an effective employee feedback program. However, when not done correctly, it can be a waste of time and money while tanking employee morale and loyalty.

Here’s a real life example of how an employee feedback program can go wrong (true story):

A company provides an annual employee feedback survey where topics range from coworkers, overall job satisfaction, management review, and a general feedback/comments section. The company houses an online portal for employees to track hours, request time off, and for continued online training. The company decides to use this online portal for efficiency and a streamlined process.

Each year before the survey is dispatched, they hold a staff meeting and remind employees that they survey will be live soon. They stress the importance of being honest and assure staff that the information will remain anonymous.

Bob, an employee who is eager to provide feedback, waits for the release date and then goes to the site to take the survey. He first finds that he has to login with his employee credentials. That makes him wonder how anonymous the survey really is. He is hesitant to provide completely honest responses to some of the questions, as he had had some issues with his direct supervisor. He has tried to resolve them in the past without success and isn’t sure if there would be ramifications for sharing this feedback with corporate. So, he continues on the survey without providing this information.

A week later he is working alongside Jane, a coworker. Their direct supervisor approaches Jane and says that her records indicate she hasn’t taken the employee feedback survey yet and needs to do so in the next three days so they get 100% participation. As the supervisor walks away, Bob and Jane talk about the fact that the survey is supposed to be anonymous, yet the supervisor knows who has taken it and who has not.

In the break room, conversation turns to the feedback. Some employees say they were completely honest in their feedback, though there were only a couple. Most say they were concerned about potential backlash and admitted that they gave high ratings across the board since they had to log in and they know that managers will know who said what.

What went wrong:

  • Management tried to assure employees that the survey was anonymous when in reality the employees had to log in to participate. As employees found they had to login to take the survey, they started off with a sense of distrust. This could (and in fact did) skew the results.
  • To further complicate things and show that the survey was not truly anonymous, the supervisors were seeking out employees who did not yet participate and remind them to take the survey. If they weren’t sure the survey was anonymous before, they realized it at this point.
  • By trying to obtain 100% participation in the form of supervisors and department managers reaching out to employees with reminders, it also enforced the concern that these managers were not only privvy to who took the survey and who didn’t, but would potentially have access to the feedback provided. If employees wanted to share negative feedback, especially about a manager or supervisor, or even how a department is run, knowing that this information could be easily accessed gave hesitation to being completely honest.

How can this be done better? There are some steps this company can take in the future to improve methods and ensure that employees are providing the most honest feedback possible:

  • Make it truly anonymous: while using the company’s online portal is likely efficient and cost effective, it would be better to find a way to use the portal but not require employee login to participate. This would give a sense of anonymity and perhaps garner more honest feedback.
  • Realize there will not be 100% participation: while the company’s procedure to remind employees to take the survey was likely done in good faith, wanting to hear from every employee, the way they went about it didn’t bode well. While 100% participation would be great, the reality is that this won’t happen. Encourage employees and offer general reminders (“the survey closes in five days; please take some time to participate if you haven’t done so already), but realize that not everyone will participate.
  • Offer options to take the survey outside of work: this company’s portal can be accessed by employees at any time, whether they’re at home or at work. For this survey, employees only had the option to take it while at work. Give them the opportunity to take it at their convenience. This will not only increase response rates, but will provide another layer to ensure results are anonymous.
  • Hire a third party vendor to conduct the surveys: employees may find it hard to provide feedback when they know their direct supervisors will see it, especially if there are significant issues. Hire a third party to execute the survey and aggregate results so the results truly stay anonymous. The company will still receive employee comments and performance ratings, but will only be tied to the store location and not to a specific employee.

More and more companies are collecting employee feedback, which is an excellent way to get insight into day to day operations. Employing best practices will ensure that it is money well spent and the data collected is as accurate as possible.

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A Fresh Set Of Eyes For One DMV

 

dmv

 

Going to the DMV is never a pleasant experience – they are noted for long wait times, unpleasant staff, and other issues that cause dread in people needing to visit.

The DMV in Connecticut is making some big changes.  Commissioner Michael Bzdyra was recently appointed to the position, and after a close look at operations with what he refers to as “a fresh set of eyes” is making some sweeping changes to help improve the consumer experience, some of which include:

  • Conducting focus groups and surveys to learn more about why consumers aren’t utilizing the online services
  • Streamlining the telephone system to cut down on inefficiencies and wait times for callers
  • Creating accountability by appointing a Chief Operating Officer. Along the same lines, he is working to improve the training procedures at the facilities

These are three of the major changes coming based on a recent article. In this case, it’s a great opportunity for a new person to step in and take a look at overall operations from a fresh perspective; that is one step in fixing some of the general issues that can arise.

For your business, is it possible to implement changes and find a “fresh set of eyes” without changing key staff?

Absolutely. Here are a few tips:

  • Similar to what this DMV is doing, take an objective look at processes in place. Now is a good time to ask employees for feedback and look at customer feedback survey data – any trends or consistent trouble spots? If so, you now have a starting point.
  • Get a fresh set of eyes from outside the company. Hiring a mystery shopping service to get a baseline snapshot of the customer experience can give greater insight as to areas of strength and weakness. Couple the data from this baseline study with the results of your employee & customer feedback.
  • Keep staff accountable. Once you have done the above steps, it’s time to lay out a plan to make improvements, renew training initiatives if needed, and then create a consistent measurement system. Mystery shopping is just one way this can be done; consider quality control monitoring of your call center, manager spot checks, or even spot check evaluations to collect objective data about the customer experience. Analytical reports can be used to continually monitor and gauge performance across staff, locations, or geographies. Use this data in performance reviews, training sessions, and incentive programs for maximum effectiveness.

For the Connecticut DMV, it will take some time before the benefits of the sweeping changes will be seen. However, this new Commissioner is doing things right, and it will pay off in the long run.

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Your Employees May Not Be Talking To You…

 

…but they may be talking to the world!

 

Social media monitoring tools are generally thought of for monitoring a company’s online reputation with its customers. Have you given thought to the fact that employees are sharing their thoughts and opinions too?

 

We’ve seen an increase in clients wanting to monitor their online reputation in the eyes of their employees lately, even if they use an employee based feedback program. As it is with customer feedback programs, sometimes employees do not share their true, honest opinions for fear of retaliation or thinking that no matter what they say, their voice will not be heard. But, they will tell the world through social media.

 

Traditionally, our social media monitoring started as monitoring employee online activities for instances of company degradation or disclosing proprietary information. Lately we’ve seen a shift in more general monitoring – not to see what an employee is doing this weekend, for example, but instead looking for trends among employees talking about their work.

 

This can be more difficult to uncover and cannot always be tied to a specific individual because they prefer to leave anonymous comments. However, this data is still quite useful, especially if you see a negative trend in one or more aspects of the workplace. This may be a sign that you need to do more in depth interviewing of your staff.

 

There are a few places you can start:

 

1. Glassdoor: if you’re not familiar with the Glassdoor site, it is a site that offers company information, along with an area for employees to review the company. A quick search on this site may tell you if employees are talking about your company and what they are saying.

 

2. Run an initial online search: type in your company name along with the words “employee” and “reviews” or even “hate my job” – word phrases that disgruntled employees may use. You might be surprised with what you find. You may even find, like with Starbucks and Walmart, that there are forums specifically created for employees to complain about their jobs.

 

3. Google Alerts: this is a start to uncovering employee opinion and sentiment, though it can be challenging and time consuming depending on how you set up the search. If, after running an online search, you find results that indicate your employees may be talking about their work online, then it’s a good idea to set up a Google alert to watch the trend in conversation. If it remains consistent or increases, good or bad, it might be time to turn to a more formal social media monitoring program to help you. These programs are more streamlined and do the legwork for you. Additionally, they can provide some analytical insight into the social media data.

 

Keeping the lines of communication open with your staff is important; making sure you’re collecting as much feedback as you can, from as many channels as possible, will serve you well in the long run.

 

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