Exciting news: The Deskless Report 2022 has launched 🎉 Read it here!

Close ticker
How to track (and improve!) your employee feedback program

How to track (and improve!) your employee feedback program

Here at Nudge, we’re pretty passionate about the power of employee feedback. An effective employee feedback program can boost your employee engagement, sharpen your competitive edge – and even save you money.  

And we know there are many great companies out there who are walking the walk and implementing upward feedback loops. However, creating feedback channels is only the first step in building a culture of feedback. Equally important is tracking the effectiveness of the feedback tools you have in place, and identifying areas for improvement. 

After all, you don’t want to be sinking considerable time and resources into managing channels that aren’t actually effectively capturing your employees’ opinions, ideas, and concerns. And what’s more, the health of your employee feedback channels could indicate broader issues, whether it’s low employee engagement or a lack of psychological safety that’s preventing employees from sharing their thoughts with you. 

Not sure how to track feedback? No problem. We’re here to help with six actionable steps you can take to start tracking and improving your employee feedback program. 

Step 1: Identify and analyze your current feedback channels

If you’re currently only getting feedback from employees once a year, you’re making a mistake. A recent survey by Saba found that more than half of employees reported that their organization didn’t have adequate feedback channels, with the majority saying they were rarely asked for their input. 

To get started, take stock of the upward feedback channels you make available. This might include: 

  • Annual employee surveys
  • Forums
  • AMAs
  • Town halls or focus groups
  • Pulse surveys
  • Digital suggestion boxes
  • 1:1 meetings

There are all kinds of feedback you can and should be thinking about collecting, so double check that you aren’t missing out on opportunities to gather key insights from your employees. 

As you start to identify your existing feedback channels, ask yourself: 

  • What are our formal vs. informal structures? Is our mix of feedback channels right?
  • How easy is it for employees to access feedback channels (especially frontline or deskless employees)?
  • Are there types of feedback we’re not currently asking for that we need?

Answering these initial questions will help guide you as you dig deeper into your feedback metrics and outcomes. 

Step 2: Track employee feedback participation 

Once you’ve identified your existing feedback channels, it’s time to look at how much each one gets used.

At the most basic level, you’ll want to assess metrics such as response/participation rates, to understand how actively employees are engaging with each channel. It’s also worth breaking down participation rates by various categories such as regions or teams. This can help you identify where there may be a break in your feedback loop. For example, in the Saba survey, 61% of female employees reported that they were rarely asked for feedback, compared to 56% of men. Female employees also tended to be more uncomfortable offering feedback than men. 

Using your metrics to identify these gaps can help you assess whether you’re using the right channels, or if there are interventions you can make at the organizational level to boost response rates among different segments of employees. 

While it is easier to track metrics when you have a digital communications platform on hand to do the heavy lifting for you (yes, like Nudge!), it doesn’t mean you should ignore your non-digital feedback channels. You might track the number of regular meetings between location managers and their staff, or the number of new ideas or complaints coming up from the shop floor.  While you may have to rely more on anecdotal or qualitative data, you can still sharpen your understanding of how well your feedback channels are working. 

Step 3: Establish feedback benchmarks

The best way to track how well your feedback channels are working over time is to set benchmarks and compare against them regularly. 

This takes time. Depending on the feedback channels and platforms you’re using, you might be able to leverage industry or comparative benchmarks. But one of the best indicators of success is to track participation, response rate, and idea sharing at your own organization, over time. After you’ve established a channel and let it run for a few months, you can set a benchmark, e.g. the number of ideas you want to generate each time. Every time you seek feedback, you can track whether you’re meeting your benchmark and use that information to inform your future employee feedback program strategies. 

Step 4: Hone your employee feedback program processes 

Getting feedback from employees will only ever be as effective as the processes you use. If you send employees never-ending surveys or only ask vague, open-ended questions, you’ll likely see a dip in the quality and quantity of feedback you receive.  

In other words, it’s not just what you ask, but how you ask it. According to survey platform company Alchemer, there are five survey design principles you should keep in mind: 

  • Focus: Set specific objectives
  • Connection: Design your survey with your audience in mind
  • Respect: Respect your employees’ time – don’t make them take a never-ending survey or jump through hoops just to give you the feedback you’re asking for
  • Action: Be prepared to take action or make a decision as a result of your survey 
  • Engagement: Continue the feedback loop – share survey insights and decisions/actions taken with your employees

When developing an employee feedback program, be mindful of using distinct feedback channels to elicit different types of feedback. For example, how you ask for feedback on management practices will likely look different to your request for new product ideas. Different types of feedback will need different levels of psychological safety, assurances, and incentives in order for your employees to choose to participate. 

Step 5: Run feedback awareness campaigns

If you’re consistently seeing low response from your feedback channels (whether throughout the organization, or in certain regions or roles) your employees may simply be unaware of your attempts to gather feedback. This can be a particular challenge for companies with large numbers of deskless employees, where communication channels can be fractured, and there may be less focus on formal upward feedback. 

It’s why a digital employee communication tool can be such a game-changer when it comes to deskless employees. With an integrated communication and feedback platform, you can run feedback awareness campaigns that could include: 

  • Feedback training, e.g. how to guides on how to give and receive feedback or videos highlighting how to use your communication channels
  • Highlights of how you’ve used feedback in the past
  • Ideas contests or forums
  • Senior leadership sharing the “why” behind feedback requests, connecting feedback to the larger mission

Remember: different messages may be more effective with some groups than others. You’ll want to track employees’ responses to your awareness campaigns, and possibly do some A/B testing.

Step 6: Ask employees how you’re doing

As we’ve already established, user experience is a critical component of making an employee feedback program successful. So while it may seem a little circular, make sure to ask your employees for input during employee surveys on how well your company’s feedback channels are working for them. Are they aware of the channels available to them? Do they use them? Do they feel safe giving all types of feedback? What do they think about your feedback channels?

You might even want to push out a regular pulse survey to employees to check whether they’ve used one or more of your feedback channels in the past month or quarter (which would also help you when it comes to setting benchmarks). 

Tracking feedback can make an already complicated process seem even more time and labour intensive. But if you want to walk the walk when it comes to employee feedback, it’s important to track how you’re doing and identify opportunities for improvement. After all, the most expensive mistake is to set up ineffective feedback channels that fail to deliver the real return on investment that comes from creating a positive culture of upward feedback. 


Employee red flags: 6 workforce metrics to watch

Employee red flags: 6 workforce metrics to watch

Every leader wants to uncover employee red flags – but finding them can be tricky. Especially when your deskless workforce is hundreds of thousands of employees, spread across the country. 

Enter workforce metrics. 

As we’ve talked about before, workforce analytics isn’t just about gathering data and calling the job done. The workforce metrics you collect are useful only insofar as you use it to gain insights into what’s working – and what isn’t. And it’s that second part that can be especially telling. 

Workforce metrics will help identify those crucial employee red flags and underlying workplace issues that threaten your organization, so that you can address them before they escalate into major problems. 

But what are the red flags you should be looking out for? Here are the workforce metrics to keep an eye on. 

Here are 6 employee red flags that every organization should look out for: 

Red flag #1: High voluntary turnover rate

What it means: Voluntary turnover tracks the number of people who have left your organization on their own volition against the average number of employees overall. A high turnover rate means that an above-average number of employees are quitting.  

Why it matters: A high turnover rate is costly for your business. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, the typical cost of turnover is approximately 21% of an employee’s annual salary. It also follows that if your turnover rate is high, there may be underlying issues within the organization that are prompting employees to leave. These issues could be related to employee experience, problems with managers, a lack of communication or any other number of problems (psst…that’s why collecting upward feedback is so important!). 

One important note: what constitutes a “high turnover rate” will vary according to a number of factors, e.g. location, industry, and your own historical benchmarks. This is true of all these employee red flags, but especially turnover. For example, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 turnover rate for accommodation and foodservices was 78.9%, while in retail it was 58.4%. Determining whether your turnover rate is too high requires context in order to understand what your data is showing. 

Red flag #2: Low reachability 

What it means: As we’ve talked about before, reachability refers to the number of employees that you can communicate with. At Nudge, reachability refers to the percentage of employees that have adopted the app and used it within the past 90 days. Low reachability means that a large portion of your employees aren’t, well, reachable. 

Why it matters: If you have low reachability, you don’t have access to a large portion of your workforce. Reachability is critical to keep your workforce informed and aligned on company-wide initiatives – and ensure they’re ready to mobilize in an emergency (like, say, a global pandemic?). Low reachability also suggests that your communication channels are ineffective, hard to access, or confusing to use. 

Red flag #3: Low feedback participation

What it means: This one is simple: low feedback participation means that employees aren’t giving your organization any of the vital types of feedback it needs to thrive, whether it’s health and safety concerns, protocol and process suggestions, or even customer insights. If you have a digital communication platform in place, you might actually be able to track a feedback participation rate, which indicates how many employees are delivering feedback through surveys, forums, or other channels. A low participation rate means that few employees are engaging in (or don’t know about) the feedback process. 

Why it matters: The ROI of upward feedback is well worth the processes you’ll need to put in place to encourage, harvest, and analyze employee feedback at scale. There are a number of business outcomes that can be achieved by fostering a feedback culture with your deskless workforce. So, when you’re seeing low participation in your feedback channels, you’re losing out on valuable insight that could drive your company. This red flag may also signal there isn’t enough psychological safety in the workplace. Limited psychological safety arises when employees fear their feedback will lead to reprisals or negative outcomes. In the absence of psychological safety, feedback participation is unlikely to improve. Low feedback participation can also be indicative of logistical issues: for example, your feedback tool is too time-consuming, poorly constructed, or hard to find. 

Red flag #4: Low campaign engagement 

What it means: This metric tracks the level of engagement linked to a specific employee communication campaign. A campaign could be related to an employee experience initiative, like a wellness month, or it could be focused on a new customer promotion or product feature. Again, if you have a communication platform in place, you’ll be able to quantify this number even more with a campaign engagement rate, calculated by the number  of employees who interacted with the campaign compared to the number of employees who received it. 

Interested in learning more about employee communication campaigns? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication.

Why it matters: Whether it’s implementing a new hygiene protocol or educating employees on new product lines, your communication campaigns contain important information. Low campaign engagement can be a warning sign that a campaign your team has spent a lot of time, energy, and budget to implement is not fully reaching your frontline staff – it can be a red flag that, for example, they’re not informed enough to properly engage with customers on a promotion or campaign. At a deeper level, low campaign engagement is a warning sign that aspects of your internal communication strategy aren’t working

Red flag #5: Knowledge gaps

What it means: Put simply, a knowledge gap is a disconnect between what you need your employees to know and what they actually know. Knowledge gaps can be identified in many ways, but to identify this red flag at scale, a digital communication platform comes in very handy. With Nudge, for example, organizations can push out quick skill-testing quizzes and then analyze the results by location and region to identify areas that need more training. 

Why it matters: If health and safety knowledge is low on the factory floor, a workplace accident may be about to happen. If hotel employees aren’t up to date on a new loyalty program, they’re going to provide a poor guest experience. If retail employees don’t know as much (and more!) about a product than consumers can learn online, CX suffers. 

More broadly, organizations worldwide spend $357.7 billion on learning and development between 2007 and 2020, with an average annual spend of $1,307 on each employee. But according to advisory and consulting firm Gartner, 70% of employees report that they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to succeed in their role. In another example, one global technology firm found that its sales employees didn’t know about or understand 22% of the product’s features. Given the investment made in employee training, and the need to have skilled and knowledgeable employees on the frontline, a low knowledge rate can flag major issues.

Red flag #6: Low employee advocacy

What it means: You’ve heard of Net Promoter Score when it comes to your customer satisfaction surveys, but what about employee NPS? Yes, it’s a thing. It’s essentially asking whether your employees would recommend your company as a good place to work and/or whether they would recommend your company’s products/services to a friend. eNPS tracks whether people in your organization are promoters (likely to talk up the company), passives (unlikely to talk about the company either positively or negatively), or distractors (employees who have issues with the company). A low NPS means you have more distractors and fewer promoters. Employee advocacy can also be measured through other review and advocacy channels, like Glassdoor.

Why it matters: Tracking employee advocacy is a good way of tracking overall employee engagement: an engaged employee is more likely to be an advocate of your brand. Conversely, if your advocacy levels are low, there are likely engagement issues within the organization that may be negatively impacting productivity or customer service. If you have a large number of distractors who are unhappy with the organization, that can also pose a reputational risk, as they are more likely to bad mouth your company to friends and family (your potential customers). 

Catching employee red flags is critical. Keeping your workforce informed, engaged, and productivity is crucial to driving better business outcomes for your organization for years to come – and catching issues before they become larger challenges will allow you to stay on track. 

Q&A: Building psychological safety in the frontline workplace

Q&A: Building psychological safety in the frontline workplace

It’s no surprise that as a digital employee communication platform, we think a lot about what creates the right conditions for meaningful two-way conversations in the workplace. One critical component is psychological safety – without it, even the best tools in the world won’t get you the kind of feedback and engagement you want from your deskless and frontline employees. 

To understand the concept of psychological safety and how you can build it with your frontline workers, we spoke with Laura Delizonna, PhD., a Stanford University instructor, internationally renowned speaker, author, and executive coach. She is an expert in psychological safety, optimal team performance, leadership effectiveness, and wellbeing, and has worked with companies like Google, Tommy Hilfiger, and Disney. 

We sat down with Dr. Delizonna to talk about psychological safety with deskless and frontline workers, fostering employee feedback channels, and more. 

What does the concept of psychological safety in the workplace mean?

Laura Delizonna: Psychological safety is the unconscious answer to what I believe is an evolutionary based question: “Are you for me or against me?” In other words, as an employee, if I don’t show up in an ideal way, if I make a minor flub or am not 100% perfect, will there be excessive negative consequences for me?

At a basic level, when psychological safety is failing, employees will begin to believe that there will be explicit or implicit negative repercussions for expressing an opinion, voicing opposition, or making a minor mistake or error. Negative consequences can be explicit (for example, not getting promoted), but often it’s more implicit, for example, through competence being quietly questioned.

The flip side (when psychological safety is present) is feeling appreciated and valued. Sometimes that part gets left out. Psychological safety is more than just believing that bad things won’t happen: it’s actually believing that there is a welcoming of opinions, perspectives and vulnerabilities.

Why are organizations starting to pay more attention to creating psychological safety?

While the term may be new, I think most people when they hear the definition of psychological safety find the idea very familiar. Psychological safety is an invisible force that exists in all relationships. But organizations are now focusing more on psychological safety because we are in an economy of success that requires more input from multiple voices. To succeed requires diversity of thought and breakthrough innovation.

“We are in an economy of success that requires more input from multiple voices. To succeed requires diversity of thought and breakthrough innovation.”

Back in the days when we could just work harder to boost a business, for example on a production line, there wasn’t the same need for psychological safety. You just needed an action to be completed. 

But now, we’re looking for more than just specific actions to be completed: we’re in an idea economy. Success is created in almost every company by bringing in creative thoughts around how to do things, when to do things. Companies realize that when they’re tackling complex problems in an error dependent environment, employees need to be encouraged to speak up.  

The equation for success in today’s workplaces is that success happens in interdependent complex contexts. Our work is becoming more complex, we’re working cross-culturally, we’re solving wicked problems, we’re conducting agile rapid learning experiments… All these factors mean organizations need psychological safety. 

Traditionally, organizations might have viewed their frontline workers precisely as part of a production line. Why is it important to build psychological safety for frontline workers?

Frontline workers have access to an incredible amount of data and information about the customer or client that leadership does not. Leadership will likely rarely talk to customers directly, but frontline workers know what the customer needs, wants, what their pain points are, what’s frustrating to them, how the company is not serving them (or not serving them well). 

All this information really serves leadership. If managers and leaders are not gathering employee feedback, they are making decisions and creating policies and systems without being informed. Whenever a question like “What can we do better?” or “What do our employees need in order to serve our customers better?” arises, frontline workers have the answers. 

Even with questionnaires or market research, leaders would be foolish to ignore the insight that their frontline workers have. Otherwise, they’re making decisions that are at best uneducated guesses. There’s just such a greater wealth of qualitative information when you ask your frontline workers in service industries and customer service lines for their input. 

How can organizations build psychological safety for its frontline workers? 

When you’re seeking upward feedback, you have to reward the messenger.

For example, if a customer service rep brings bad news, says “I need X” or “Y isn’t working,” then that has to be welcomed. Coming forward with feedback can’t be harmful. Frontline workers aren’t stupid. They’re not going to say things that are going to be poorly received, or have negative consequences for them. They’ll stay silent.

“Frontline workers aren’t stupid. They’re not going to say things that are going to be poorly received, or have negative consequences for them. They’ll stay silent.”

Or worse, if frontline workers feel unappreciated or sour as a result of how management has responded to their feedback, they might take it out on the customer, or become disengaged from the company. Organizations need to remember that frontline workers are your representatives, representing the company, its norms, its values. This is important: you have to set up frontline workers so that they can bring their best. Their emotional states, their mood, their happiness, their feeling of being appreciated, all this matters. When you can do this, frontline workers feel like part of the team, not the machine. 

That’s part one: putting employees first and enabling the employee to feel proud of their role and their company, feel loyal and willing to go above and beyond, able to tolerate difficult situations. 

The other part is, how do you make it safe for these workers to give their input?

For this, there has to be air cover for candor. You have to make sure the bearer of bad news isn’t punished. Leaders need to recognize it’s a very dangerous place to be in for frontline workers to be criticizing a system – because people, including managers, can take feedback personally. Nobody wants to be seen as the problem, and that’s why employee feedback can only happen when there’s enough psychological safety for the workers.

What steps can leaders take to show upward feedback is welcome?

Words aren’t enough; talk is cheap. Employees have to have proof that there won’t be negative consequences or repercussions for pointing out a problem. 

One thing I’ve encountered is that the person who points out a problem can often be blamed. Managers attribute the problem to the employee, saying, “Well, you’re having a problem because you’re not performing well enough.” This is one of the subtle but most ubiquitous ways that feedback gets blocked in an organization: the receiver attributes it to a problem with the individual, rather than looking at the system or considering where change might be needed. 

So, first of all, leaders need to lead the way. Leaders are asking workers to be vulnerable by bringing forth negative feedback, opposition, or mistakes, but they often don’t start with themselves. The leader has to say, “This is how I have messed up…” or “This is what I have noticed…” or “I don’t know the solution, I need your help.” This shows that the leader is willing to undertake some emotional exposure, to experience uncertainty, too. 

Most leaders refuse to do this, because they’re also afraid to be seen as weak or incompetent. But there’s always a way that leaders can do this.  For example, leaders can acknowledge the complexity of the current environment (“We’ve never been here before”) or call for knowledge they don’t have (“You’re on the frontline, I’m not”) or appeal to a shared vision or purpose (“we need to figure this out together.”)

Leaders must also be willing to share their own errors and mistakes. Maybe it’s negative press or board feedback: but if leaders can show that they can make and own their mistakes, it sends the signal that mistakes, feedback and learning are welcome at all levels in the organization. 

What are some mistakes that organizations make when seeking upward feedback that can diminish psychological safety?

How leaders respond to feedback is critical. Everyone in the organization is watching and paying attention to whether someone gets reprimanded, ignored, or dismissed when they give feedback. 

There are three responses that can play out when feedback is given. 

  • Turning against: When the person giving feedback gets blamed and criticised.
  • Turning away: When feedback is dismissed, not responded to, talked over, or ignored.
  • Turning towards: When the feedback is received with curiosity and appreciation. In this situation, the leader says, “Oh, thank you. Tell me more.” 

Leaders have to make sure they are turning towards feedback. Whenever they turn away or turn against feedback it will silence any additional feedback for the entire group, not just for that person. Anyone who has witnessed or been told secondhand about a negative response to  feedback will be discouraged from sharing their own feedback in the future. 

However, it’s worth noting that asking for feedback does not necessarily mean you have to implement it. I’ve heard leaders say they don’t want to ask for feedback because they’re not sure what will happen if they ask for input and then decide not to use it. It is okay to ask but not implement input or feedback. The key is to thank employees for the input/feedback and explicitly acknowledge that the input is not being acted upon but that it was considered. It can go a long way to explain the decision making process: why and what variables were at play in making the final decision. Then people feel respected, and heard rather than dismissed, which diminishes psychological safety.

Another consideration is that the whole organization needs to be on board; turning toward feedback has to be part of your culture. Negative repercussions don’t just come from senior leadership, they could come from the store manager, or another cashier. Nobody’s going to do anything that’s going to hurt their chances for promotion, advancement. Nobody wants to risk being seen as incompetent or unlikeable. 

“It’s like your brain and your mind is scanning, constantly saying, ‘Don’t get killed, don’t get killed, don’t get killed.’ And a negative comment is the sabertooth tiger in the modern day workplace.”

Remember, we are social animals. We read micro-expressions: a manager can say exactly the same words, but even a slightly negative tone or facial expression can change the whole meaning of an interaction. Reading these subtle and unconscious social cues constantly is wired into our brains. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s like your brain and your mind is scanning, constantly saying, “Don’t get killed, don’t get killed, don’t get killed.” And a negative comment is the sabertooth tiger in the modern day workplace.

If a leader knows that their organization has a history of shooting the messenger or ignoring feedback, how can they turn the culture around?

You must repair harm to improve the future. 

I think of these as “regrettable incidents”– over time we will all have harmful responses and reactions that can damage a relationship. And when a regrettable incident occurs and there’s some kind of relationship rupture, you must repair it. 

Most people will say something like, “I know there have been problems, we’re going to do better in the future.” But that’s weak: it doesn’t have an emotional impact and it doesn’t prove anything. It isn’t convincing. 

Instead, I advise leaders to practise the “three Rs.” 

The first R is responsibility. Leaders need to take specific responsibility for what’s gone wrong by saying, “I take responsibility for this action that created this harm.” 

The second R is remorse. Leaders need to show regret, say sorry, acknowledge that they want to do better. In some circumstances (when appropriate), it may be important for leaders to offer up greater degrees of emotional exposure, saying things like “I feel bad for how this happened” or “I’m embarrassed, “ or “This was unacceptable.” 

The final R is recommit. When a leader realizes that they haven’t responded well or haven’t listened as well as they should have, the next step is to recommit. Leaders need to show that they are ready to listen and must share specific actions that are going to be taken in the future–and acknowledge specific mistakes that are not going to be made again. For example by saying, “I’m not going to do that again, instead I’m going to do X.”

Leaders need to immediately take action on the new plan, even if it’s something token or a small step in the right direction. In a recent executive coaching session I had with a CEO I told them they had to take action that day. And so the CEO sent out an anonymous survey that same day, as soon as the town hall was over, to gather opinions. That starts to walk the talk immediately. People have some sense that maybe this time there’s actually going to be a real change. 

Because remember, if you promise but don’t follow through, then there is no belief that your repair will be valid. You’ll lose credibility. Employees are used to “promises, promises” from management, but not seeing the action taken. This builds resentment and actually degrades the situation further. You have to make an effective repair. 

What’s your biggest takeaway for how to build psychological safety?

The main thing is to be curious and give ample appreciation. When receiving feedback, say, “Thank you, that must have been difficult to say. Tell me more.” Ask people for examples, acknowledge that they’ve raised something valuable that you hadn’t thought of before. Make it clear that you’re ready to hear more from the person giving you feedback, that it is welcome. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. We’re grateful to Dr. Delizonna for speaking with us, and acknowledge that her participation in this Q&A does not represent an endorsement of Nudge’s products and services. Find out more about Laura Delizonna’s work at delizonna.com

The ROI of deskless employee feedback

The ROI of deskless employee feedback

It’s a well-worn cliché for companies to claim that their employees are their most valuable asset. But are you actually harnessing the power of your employees? To do that, you need to have an employee feedback channel. 

Your deskless employees are at the forefront of your business. Maybe they’re on the frontline, dealing with customers. Maybe they’re directly producing your product. Maybe they’re cleaning your locations. Wherever they are, these employees have the real world, real-time insights that can drive sales, secure customer loyalty, and grow your business.

So: are you listening to upward feedback from your deskless employees? Or are you leaving this valuable asset untapped?

Here are 5 reasons you should make sure you’re seeking upward feedback from your deskless employees.

1. Address changing customer needs – in real time

Businesses invest millions of dollars in market research and customer insight surveys – without tapping into their key source of customer insights. Your frontline employees handle customer questions and feedback every day. Implementing strong upward feedback systems gives you a direct line to what your customers really care about.

Take fashion brand Zara. Fashion is a notoriously fast-paced and competitive environment. To stay ahead of the curve, Zara relies on their retail staff to share insights like customer requests, ideas for new cuts and styles, and even trends they identify by studying what customers wear as they shop. 

Brand strategist Martin Roll explains: “Zara employees are trained to listen, watch and be attentive to even the smallest seismographic signals from their customers, which can be an initial sign that a new trend is taking shape.”

The results? By gathering employee insights, Zara beats out the competition. Whereas competitors may take months to showcase a new style, Zara can have them on the shop floor in a matter of weeks. Using the signals from your employee feedback channels can help you take pole position in your market, anticipating new trends and meeting customer needs as they arise. And that means higher sales, better CX, and stronger customer loyalty. 

2. Empower your workforce to drive business outcomes

Empowering your deskless employees with upward feedback channels may also be the key to boosting your sales and growing your business. 

When you empower your employees and make them feel that their actions have a direct impact on the business, you can turn them into active ambassadors for your brand. A study from the Harvard Business Review showed that when frontline employees were empowered, there was a significant boost in business performance. According to the study, companies who invested in employee empowerment reported higher levels of customer satisfaction, service quality improvements, top-line growth, and boosts in market position. 

By empowering your employees to share their feedback, you create a virtuous circle. Creating a connection between the work your employees do and business outcomes encourages them to feel a sense of pride in their work. As you encourage frontline employees to develop new ways to boost customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, you make every location into a customer experience lab. And then by gathering that feedback and best practices, you can scale the most successful ideas across your business. The result? Your employees are engaged, and you’re seeing better business outcomes. 

This culture shift is part of what Bain & Company calls  “frontline obsession,” which is all about securing customers as your best advocates, empowering your frontline employees, and encouraging relentless experimentation

For businesses that crack this code, the payoff is worth it. Take Soft Surroundings. The lifestyle retailer recognized the importance of upward feedback as they expanded their brand. Just a few months after implementing Nudge, over 4,000 ideas and feedback submissions had come in from associates. In one case, an idea led to a 22% increase in silk pillowcase sales. 

3. Win the war for talent by being an employer of choice

The labor shortage is no joke. If you want to win the war for talent, you need to focus on building the emotional bond between your employees and your mission. 

The workforce is changing. Gen Z and millennials now make up 46% of the US workforce and they arrive at work with different expectations. These employees want openness, transparency, respect, and recognition. Sure, employees will show up for a paycheck. But employees who have a commitment to your business will go above and beyond and deliver real business gains.   

So, how do you create a winning employee experience? According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2020 it’s all about listening to and acting upon employee feedback – and expanding the circle of which employees are engaged and involved in decision making.

While head office may be used to soliciting feedback from deskbound employees, deskless employees can be overlooked as a source of critical information. But when a core part of your employer brand is listening to your workforce – your entire workforce – you attract more top-performing candidates that want to join your organization.  

4. Avoid unnecessary employee turnover

There’s nothing worse than spending weeks advertising, hiring, and training a new employee, only to have them quit three months down the line. And it’s not only frustrating: it’s costing your business money, too.

A report by the Center for American Progress estimated the typical cost of turnover at 21% of an employee’s annual salary. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual rate of separations is particularly high for industries with high numbers of deskless employees. Numbers for 2019 showed a turnover rate of 58% in retail and 79% in leisure and hospitality. This compared to an annual average across all industries of 45%.

So how do you prevent a sky-high turnover rate and protect your bottom line?

The evidence is clear. Giving space for employees to share their feedback (even when they’re dissatisfied) can prevent employees from walking.  Researchers from the Good Business Lab found that employees at one manufacturing company who were given a chance to voice their concerns were far less likely to quit than those who didn’t receive the same feedback opportunity.

In the current labor shortage, already-high turnover rates are at risk of getting out of control. Knowing that feedback is welcomed and will be listened to is a crucial part of getting your top people to stay put. 

5. Save money by making better decisions

Your deskless employees are experts in their area. When you gather their feedback, you can make decisions with the input of the people who really know how the job gets done. Take the example of the national airline who saved $30 million dollars when they engaged their cleaners, bag handlers, ground crew, and ticket agents in coming up with cost-saving ideas 🤯.

In fact, broadening your sources of feedback can lead to more creative solutions and limit the risk of groupthink. Diversity in teams has been repeatedly shown to lead to better business decisions – one study found, for example, that inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time. That’s why it’s so important for deskless and frontline organizations to ensure they’re hearing from voices across the business when making decisions. By engaging deskless employees in upward feedback channels, you increase your chance of identifying missed opportunities – and avoiding costly mistakes.

The importance of acting on employee feedback

One final warning: gathering employee feedback alone isn’t enough. You need to act on it. According to a recent report by LinkedIn, 1 in 3 companies do not regularly act on employee feedback – and that’s a problem. 

Ignoring employee feedback doesn’t just leave employees feeling like they’re not heard at work. It also leaves valuable ideas on the table. Famously, Hewlett Packard ignored Steve Wozniak when he went to the company with his prototype for a personal computer, and we all know how that ended. 

Of course, changing an organization’s culture to bring in new employee feedback channels can take time and effort, but it may be the key to boosting your competitive advantage. After all, it was a junior software engineer’s suggestion that led to the creation of Amazon Prime. 

Psst…not sure how to follow up on employee feedback? A digital communication platform like Nudge makes it simple to encourage idea-sharing, harvest ideas, and run targeted forums around specific topics or questions. Nudge’s analytics allow organizations to easily track ideas, identify common themes, and identify disengaged locations or teams. 


Your deskless employees are an invaluable source of ideas, energy, and creativity. When you harness the insights of your deskless employees, you create a culture of innovation. And you make it clear to every employee, from shop floor to C-suite, that they are playing a vital role in building the next phase of your company’s success. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?