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6 Signs your feedback loops are falling off the rails

6 Signs your feedback loops are falling off the rails

Feedback loops are a well-loved tactic for advocating a culture of improvement and empowerment among frontline workers. But what happens when the feedback loops you have in place stop being effective? Sometimes organizations forget that these loops can’t simply be a “set-it-and-forget-it” solution. You must actively maintain these channels and manage them to ensure things flow. 

While you may have done the work to put feedback loops in place, things can sometimes go awry. Things can go wrong when trying to capture feedback from your frontline employees. 

When feedback loops fall off the rails, it can disrupt team dynamics and the trust you’ve built. It can lead to problems with employee engagement and psychological safety, which can take time to regain. And keeping an eye out for warning signs is just as important as having a way to resolve the situation when it happens.  

Here are 6 signs that your feedback loop has hit a snag and how to get unstuck.

1. The feedback you’re receiving is too vague

Clarity and action are the name of the game: when it comes to feedback, unclear feedback can be worse than none at all. It can lead to miscommunications, reinterpretations, and misused energy. But vague feedback can often be traced back to problems with the feedback loop – from overly vague questions to a lack of psychological safety. 

Here are a few ways to remedy an overly general feedback loop:

  • If you receive vague feedback from an employee, work with their floor manager to ask for more details. Get specific when you give feedback and ask for that specificity in return. 
  • Encourage a “radical candor” approach with direct, clear language. Lead by example with concise, direct language when sharing communications or updates with your workforce 
  • Diversify your approach and offer different avenues for feedback, including open forums as well as anonymous and secure employee input feedback channels. 
  • Connect feedback to business outcomes. Showing your employees through action that their feedback has yielded a great outcome, and they’ll be more likely to share in the future.  

2. Feedback is coming in from outside of designated channels

What happens when an employee has feedback but isn’t sure how to report it? Or if they are not using the tools in place to share thoughts or ideas? The solution comes down to education. Employees can’t provide feedback if they don’t know where to go. And if they use a non-designated channel, you run the risk of losing vital information in the mix. 

Don’t assume all your employees know how and where to give feedback. Find ways to share your channels consistently and push the systems you have in place. Be clear and direct about the type of feedback you want. Coupling that with a digital communication tool (we know a great one!) can keep all your communication channels in one place and promote a culture of feedback with your staff. 

3. Feedback is all the same 

If you keep receiving the same feedback over and over from your employees, it’s not them. It’s you. Chances are there is a blind spot, or programs and processes in place may not be working to your advantage. If you receive the same feedback time and again from your team, it could mean one of three things: 

  • There are significant issues that need addressing
  • You’re not processing feedback properly, and crucial feedback is going unactioned
  • There may be some groupthink or hive mind inadvertently happening, and employees are hesitant to share their dissenting views 

And that last one is particularly troubling. When combating employee groupthink, diversity may be the answer. Broadening your feedback channels and finding creative solutions can lead to better business decisions. Strong D&I efforts in the workplace foster high levels of engagement and a strong sense of belonging, and inclusive teams reportedly make better decisions 87% of the time. Bringing in different voices to help make decisions can help you avoid costly mistakes and smartly identify missed opportunities. 

4. Feedback is getting lost, forgotten, or ignored

Now let’s go back to the issue we mentioned above – not processing feedback properly. Feedback loops are only as effective as the action you take afterward. Action is as vital as collecting the information itself. Inaction around collected information is a miss at the head office level and demonstrates a break in the process. If your organization doesn’t have the tools to capture and act on shared feedback, you risk alienating team members – not to mention miss out on valuable ideas that could drive better business outcomes. Plus, companies that collect and act on feedback are more likely to retain their employees. 

And we know – processing feedback when you have hundreds of thousands of frontline employees can seem daunting. But these tips on acting on feedback at scale can help!  

5. Your feedback flow is uneven…

Certain feedback loops you promote may function better than others. Some may bring great feedback, while others…not so much. But if you’re not collecting inputs from various sources, you’re not getting a complete picture. 

Here, we share different types of feedback that you should be collecting. If you find that you’re receiving one kind of feedback most often (such as manager performance) and not enough of others (like knowledge sharing), then that’s your cue to intervene. Go deep into these areas, and use these tips on tracking and improving employee feedback programs on an ongoing basis. 

6. …or feedback dries up altogether

Despite having these multiple channels in place, what happens when feedback stops coming in at a steady pace? 

When the feedback stream stops flowing, there isn’t enough information for you, as a leader, to use to create new inputs for your processes. Without insight into your team,  you won’t have a way of knowing what is and isn’t working. You will have a harder time reporting back about programs or finding ways to improve customer service. Not only does your team stall, but on a larger scale, your company’s overall growth may take a hit. 

With deskless employees, finding ways to receive feedback continually is critical. They are the source of truth for an organization’s frontline problems. They’re your direct line into what’s working and what isn’t. Avoid losing touch with this vital resource. 

If you find your well of feedback running dry, go back to the source. Whether it’s a widespread drought or specific channels that have stopped flowing, create more touchpoints with your employees, and be creative. Use mechanisms like surveys, Ask Me Anythings (AMAs), and build more face-to-face time into your days. 

If that doesn’t help, look at the feedback culture you have in place. After all, you can’t have a strong feedback loop without having trust in place, and vice versa. When psychological safety is failing in a work environment, employees will believe there that they will face repercussions for providing upward feedback, voicing opposition, or making a minor error at work. As Stanford University instructor and executive coach Laura Delizonna, PhD., shares in a Q&A, “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.” 

One final tip: collecting feedback is a daily responsibility. Avoid creating a culture where you only collect feedback once a year. In fact, according to one study, 58% of employees want more frequent employee engagement surveys. 

When you open up opportunities for feedback, upward or otherwise, to all your employees, your chances of increased profitability and retention grow. But leaders must focus on making both giving and receiving feedback easier through technology and processes that encourage real-time sharing, ease of use, and closing the loop. 

6 reasons employee recognition is good for business

6 reasons employee recognition is good for business

Across all industries, frontline and deskless workers have faced many challenges in the last two years. Organizations are struggling with burnout, a lack of connection, and abysmal morale, with many workers choosing to leave their jobs in hopes of finding more fulfillment and growth elsewhere. 

As the great resignation takes hold and the competition for talent continues to mount, it’s become exceedingly vital for organizations to show how they value their employees.

And recognition tops the charts as the number one ask from employees in the post-pandemic return to work. Finding ways to weave a robust employee recognition program into your organization’s day-to-day is way more than just an HR play. It can positively impact your culture and, by extension, on the engagement and retention of key players – not to mention, of course, your bottom line. 

A quick primer on employee recognition: it comes in many forms but generally refers to how an organization actively applauds its employees’ work. Companies equipped with strong recognition programs are 12x more likely to see strong business outcomes. Just be sure to pay attention to who is doing the recognition. A Deloitte study of 16,000 employees revealed that 44% of employees value recognition the most from leaders above their direct supervisor. 

Let’s take a look at how you can build strong employee recognition programs that result in strong business outcomes. Here are 6 reasons employee recognition is good for business: 

1. Recognition drives engagement (and excellence!)

Employee recognition forms part of the bedrock of company culture that places exceptionalism and excellence at its peak; it helps foster appreciation and can empower each employee to do their best. Recognition fortifies relationships and provides team members with a clear purpose aligned to achievable company goals. 

Companies that promote a culture of excellence can trace their efforts back to higher retention levels, culture, and employee engagement and satisfaction. It connects your people and culture to a shared purpose. Companies that provide clear feedback and recognition also see positive, measurable impacts on employee engagement levels. The SHRM/Workhuman Employee Recognition study, for example, found that a whopping 84% of respondents said recognition positively impacted engagement. 

2. Recognition fosters employee retention

As we already mentioned, the labor crisis has left organizations struggling to retain loyal staff – and employee recognition is proven to be a major driver of retention. Why? Workers celebrated by their leaders are more likely to stay at an organization for the long term. Nearly 91% of employees say that a strong culture of recognition makes a company an attractive place to work. 

It even transcends financial motivations: employee recognition is cited as one of the top non-monetary factors for employee retention. One study even found that Companies with recognition programs had 31% less voluntary turnover than those without. Those numbers are hard to argue with. 

3. Recognition promotes productivity

Appreciation pays dividends. Recognition is instrumental in boosting employee engagement at an individual level, but it can also increase productivity, which drives business outcomes and can be tied to higher retention levels. 

How? What behavior gets recognized gets repeated. One study found that 92% of employees are more likely to repeat activities they receive recognition for. And 90% of employees say that some form of appreciation motivates them to put more effort in at work. And in companies that employ internal communication tools or have an employee recognition program, both employee productivity and performance are seen to be 14% higher

In other words: an employee recognition program is a great way to encourage (and scale!) the behavior you want to see – and discourage the behavior you don’t want to see. 

4. Recognition nurtures trust 

By recognizing your employees, you can help build trust with them – you can help them see that their company values both them and their contributions. And depending on the type of positive feedback you offer, you may increase trust in various business areas. For example, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can lead to higher feelings of belonging, a more robust culture, and a 26% increase in engagement scores.

Why does this matter? Trust and efficacy go hand-in-hand. High levels of organizational trust and in the company as a whole can be linked to profitability. Trust is also a key component of employer branding, essential in this new age of talent search and retention. 

5. Recognition increases customer satisfaction (and profitability!)

Frontline employee recognition doesn’t just stay in the ranks of your employees. It trickles down to many other areas of the company and, in some cases, can have a direct impact on your customer experience. Here’s an example: By weaving recognition efforts and programs into day-to-day operations, The Walt Disney World Resort saw a 15% increase in staff satisfaction. Not only did that rise impact engagement, the results correlated with higher-than-average guest satisfaction scores at the resort. 

Here’s another one: U.S.-based superstore chain Meijer found that increasing employee recognition from twice a month to twice a week increased customer satisfaction by 5%. The same study found that the higher the employee recognition rates went, the  higher customer satisfaction was overall. 

Alas, the opposite is true, too. Less appreciation leads to lower engagement levels, and according to Gallup, disengaged employees have a negative impact on profitability. They tend to exhibit 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and, for the companies who employ them, 15% lower profitability. In dollars, that’s equal to around 34% of a disengaged employee’s yearly salary, or $3,400 of every $10,000 you pay them.

6. Recognition provides you with vital employee data 

Depending on the tools you use to run your employee recognition program, you might be able to gain access to a whole new arena of workforce analytics that can help you make data-driven decisions about your workforce, your processes, and the organization as a whole. 

Data derived via employee recognition programs provide an honest, impartial line of sight into the performance of your team and your company. Leveraging a communications platform (like Nudge!) to drive employee recognition gives you access to data on your top performers and scalable best practices that have garnered praise. This data can also show you regions or locations with low participation in your recognition program, which can be a red flag for disengagement or culture issues.

When it comes down to it, people are more likely to repeat behaviors they are recognized for. If you seek to build a robust, profitable, and inclusive culture, an employee recognition program might be the solution.  

5 common mistakes leaders make when tracking workforce analytics

5 common mistakes leaders make when tracking workforce analytics

Companies are increasingly turning to workforce analytics to drive serious change company-wide – everything from sales and CX to employee engagement and retention. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Report, more than half of the responding organizations said their leaders’ interest in workforce analytics had grown exponentially in the past two years. However, despite this, nearly 30% of senior executives state that they still rely primarily on intuition when making major business decisions…oops! 

In deskless organizations, where frontline employees can number in the hundreds of thousands, workforce analytics is crucial. Interpreting reliable data to improve decision-making at scale can have major impacts on business outcomes. If it’s done right. And that’s a big if. 

Because when it comes to harvesting, interpreting, and actioning on this crucial data, there are a lot of common blunders that send organizations astray. 

Here are the 5 most common mistakes organizations make when tracking workforce analytics.

Mistake #1: Not setting goals

When used effectively, workforce analytics can support your organizational goals. As a leader, you’re helping shape the trajectory of your company’s growth by identifying pain points or key insights for quick wins and long-term plays. But to do that, you must first understand the story the data is telling you. Without goals in place, you’re just collecting data for data’s sake – you’re not turning those metrics into insights.  

Resist the urge to track everything at once – instead, think about the questions you want answered. Are you looking to identify your CX success drivers? Are you looking to understand the story of your employee experience by studying data relative to retention rates or how engaging your internal communications are? Maybe you’re trying to understand whether or not you have a strong culture of feedback to capture best practices and scale across your company? 

Once you know what goals to focus on, you can fine-tune the data you’re collecting, and use the workforce analytics to drive predictable outcomes.

Tip: Focus on the areas where your business can benefit the most. To do this, understand the most valuable KPIs that help drive your company’s growth. If you’re looking at ways to increase retention, for example, you can dive deep into your workforce analytics to identify pain points your employees are experiencing. From there, you can hone in on the areas that require your attention and find ways to remedy or act on them.  

Mistake #2: Not seeing the bigger picture

Specific metrics can seem super important (and sometimes a little scary! We’re looking at you, voluntary turnover rate), but by digging deeper, we see it takes multiple layers for a story to unfold. The idea, as Ultimate Software VP Cecile Alper-Leroux puts it in SHRM, is to “get past the ‘what’ and fully understand the ‘why.’” 

And that’s where this mistake becomes far too common. Data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Misunderstanding the larger story behind the workforce analytics you’re collecting can be a huge miss for companies and lead them to miss out on important, actionable ways to improve their overall employee experience. 

For example: seeing a low open or read rate on internal communications at your company could lead Head Office to deduce that their employees aren’t engaged, or worse, lazy and unproductive. But combining that data with the “reachable” rate can tell leaders that most employees simply don’t have an easy way to access communications to read them at all. From there, understanding how your team interacts with your communications can provide visibility into engagement. And that information can help you understand what’s resonating with your team. You can even use this data to evaluate program performance against various vertical benchmarks and identify areas for improvement across your operations. 

Tip: Looking at data as larger workforce insights ensures you’re staying focused driving better business outcomes from your data, not just panicking over individual numbers.

Mistake #3: Not having the right tools in your toolbox

A common mistake that organizations make is trying to capture workforce insights without the right tools in place. If your communication and feedback channels and other tools aren’t fully capturing your metrics, you’re at risk of telling an incomplete story. Or, worse – you’ll start to fall back on anecdotal evidence or gut instincts to fill in the blanks, which can be just as bad. 

For example: let’s say you want to learn how your feedback channels are performing. If you currently collect feedback verbally through managers, through email, or through a suggestion box at each location, there’s really no way to properly measure how effectively you’re capturing feedback because you don’t have a way to accurately gauge how many employees have been asked for feedback, how many have delivered feedback, and what employee ideas were acted on and led to better business outcomes. 

Email is another example. Email communication was once the most effective way to connect with your employees but now lacks the depth and nuance necessary for a modern deskless workforce. Email tells a shallow story: open and click-through rates rarely reveal anything about engagement. 

See what we mean? 

Tip: The tools you need to properly capture workforce analytics depends on what insights you want to learn, but a great place to start is a digital communication platform (like Nudge!) that offer a two-way communication and feedback channel that can be tracked, start to finish. With a communication platform, you can track all your people analytics: engagement, knowledge retention, feedback participation, even recognition.  

Mistake #4: Not capturing everyone in your workforce

Another mistake leaders often make when gathering workforce data is not including everyone in their organization in the data collection. Why? You might have certain workers, locations, or even full regions that are invisible when it comes to collecting data. They might not have company emails, for example, or they might not engage in your channels because of language barriers or even time zone changes. 

This is a crucial mistake to avoid because you need a complete data set to give you an accurate picture of your workforce – and your organization as a whole. A complete data set will ensure any policies or changes you enact represent the needs of your deskless or frontline employees. 

Tip: Depending on what type of internal communication tool your company employs, you might be able to quickly identify regions, individual locations, or individual employees that aren’t represented in your data set. What could be inaccurately interpreted as “disengaged” could merely be an issue with the reach of your current tools. 

Mistake #5: Not actioning on your data insights 

Value cannot be derived from insights unless they are put into action. And, unfortunately, a common mistake that organizations make is sitting on their findings, unsure what to do next. 

After all, the goal of workforce analytics is to identify areas for improvement. If you’re only tracking metrics for the fun of it, you’re wasting precious time and energy. Workforce analytics data can help your company start taking a proactive approach in everything it does.

For example, given the time and cost of recruiting, using workforce analytics to identify potential patterns in employee turnover can realize significant savings for your business. Examining variables like engagement, tenure, and role of the staff who leave could help your company identify others who are considering an exit. Here, you can optimize processes, set up ‘stay’ interviews, or provide development planning to increase retention.

Tip: If you’ve collected data but are unsure what to do next, consider reaching out to professionals for a consultation (psst…if you’re a Nudge user, our award-winning customer success team provides ongoing support and analysis of your data). 

Gathering and actioning on workforce analytics can lead to some major wins – if you steer clear of the common blunders that trip organizations up. Avoid these common workforce analytics mistakes, and you’ll be on the right path to effective employee communication. 

4 ways to bring inclusion and diversity into your internal communications

4 ways to bring inclusion and diversity into your internal communications

Communicating with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of deskless workers can be challenging. Fractured communications across locations, culture and language barriers, and an overall lack of belonging can leave organizations struggling to connect with your frontline. But you can increase engagement across all your deskless employees by championing diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

What diversity and inclusion is (and why organizations should prioritize it) 

The role that diversity and inclusion plays in business success is undeniable, but not all organizations have a clear sense of what D&I is. To understand it better, remember that diversity is about variety in representation, and inclusion is about engagement. Data suggests that teams focused on diversity and inclusion tend to deliver the highest levels of engagement and a strong sense of belonging. 

And that’s critical right now, because over time, and especially during the pandemic, a lack of prioritization of deskless workers has led to feelings of isolation and apathy. Despite efforts by employers, deskless employees struggle to feel valued, appreciated and motivated, with only 56% saying they feel “connected and engaged by their employers.” This highlights a diminished sense of trust, connection, and communication between employees and employers. 

Accelerating diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace can proactively combat these feelings of disconnect. Weaving D&I principles throughout your workplace can have resounding effects, including higher engagement and an increase in a sense of belonging. In other words: companies that create environments where employees’ differences are celebrated will reap great results. 

In fact, one Deloitte study found that focusing on workplace belonging can lead to a 56% increase in overall employee job performance and can be attributed to a reduction in employee turnover risk by 50%. When it comes to profits, companies that report high levels of internal diversity tend to bring in 15 times more sales revenue than companies with lower levels of diversity. 

The advantages that come from infusing diversity and inclusion initiatives into your internal communications plan go beyond anything that numbers and metrics can see. The benefits of an inclusive workforce can be attributed to a myriad of things, including better team problem solving and an increase in a sense of belonging and overall workforce engagement

To encourage belonging, organizations should aim to create an environment where all employees from all different walks of life feel valued, respected and safe. They should approach inclusion and diversity in the workplace authentically and transparently, and avoid being performative. With that in mind, the role that internal communications plays in engaging your teams and frontline workers in diversity and inclusion initiatives is vital. Beyond effectively sharing important information, it helps push through important agendas and campaigns to underpin the company’s values and overall mission, which can extend and amplify D&I efforts. 

Not sure where to start? Here are four ways to use inclusion and diversity initiatives to shape your communications, to engage and celebrate your employees, no matter who (or where!) they are. 

1. Create D&I-based communication standards

An essential part of communication is just that: communicating. And successful communications rely on inclusive language. The language you use should be free from tones, words, or phrases that promote discriminatory, prejudiced or stereotyped perceptions of specific people or groups.  

For example, the term “guys” is a catchall phrase to refer to a group no matter their gender. Yet, for many, including non-binary, non-conforming, transgendered women and men, this term can reinforce a lack of belonging. Simply replacing this term with something like everyone or team can be more inclusive. 

As times change and our collective understanding of diversity in the workplace continues to evolve, so too does our language. It’s up to us to be thoughtful about how we express ourselves and work to avoid excluding others from being seen as part of a group. When in doubt, always lead with empathy.

Setting guidelines around language use and offering support can go a long way. Our words hold power, and in this case, they can have the power of making or breaking your relationships with or between employees. 

What you can do today: Be proactive. Set a standard for inclusive language that is neutral, intersectional and includes everyone in the organization, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and more. Maintain consistency with a conscious style guide, which will help answer questions around spelling, phrasing, and more.

Make sure you include your employees! Engage your D&I team or create a committee to encourage better language usage and weed out problematic or outdated phrasing. Revisit quarterly and keep adjusting. 

2. Celebrate differences through storytelling 

One of the most effective ways to grow your inclusion efforts is to share positive stories of the diverse group of employees within the organization. This helps your workforce see that the company gives fair opportunities to people from various backgrounds. Find ways to celebrate your employees’ different opinions and ideas while giving credit where it’s due. Highlight their successes by attributing to an individual an idea they put forward or celebrate their wins with an expression of gratitude. Find ways to sponsor underrepresented individuals.

Sharing successes not only promotes a stronger company culture, but it lends itself to a company’s ability to story-tell. As storytelling expert Michael Kass explains, this can help a company “divest from exploitative ways of being and relationships with the communities and people we purport to serve while fostering more equitable, inclusive, and human relationships.” 

For example, HSBC brought together their global workforce with a photo competition. This company-wide initiative was focused on showing off the unique perspectives of their employees – afterward, a compilation on YouTube helped HSBC’s workforce to see the magnitude of their submissions.

What you can do today: Organizations can begin by building strong relationships with a diverse group of employees. Be a listener and amplify those voices; make an effort to get an objective review on all communications. Speak with your company’s BIPOC and underrepresented groups. Listen to understand, not to defend. 

Make space in a company newsletter for features like “a day in the life of” highlighting unique team members and their journeys, aspirations or goals. Set up contests or events where employees can showcase their unique perspectives. 

3. Facilitate psychological safety 

Being a good listener is vital, but for larger organizational change, leaders must facilitate a space where everyone is encouraged to have vulnerable and honest conversations. This means fostering a sense of psychological safety, the process of providing safe spaces for employees to challenge and ask for help without fear of repercussion. Managers who actively create psychological safety workplaces are less likely to experience turnover on their teams. 

In organizations with high psychological safety, employees are empowered to give honest, valuable feedback. By speaking up to and sharing with those in positions of power, employees can help challenge the status quo, creating a cascade effect of identifying problems and finding opportunities for improvement. And so, part of encouraging psychological safety means being prepared to respond to and facilitate discussions around tougher conversations

By eschewing the concept of staying apolitical and encouraging dialogue around your employees’ differences, you can promote healthy conflict and curiosity. Through sharing constructively and safely, your employees can be sure that their differences are respected and valued. 

What you can do today: To empower employees to share more, consult your team during the decision-making process and ask them for their input. Don’t stop there; once the decision has been made, keep engaging your employees and including them in the conversation.

Also, be authentic and transparent. Encourage the management team to arrive to each conversation willing to share successes and failures. Provide opportunities for your employees to get to know who their leaders are. This could be in the form of monthly AMAs, dedicated office hours, or monthly leadership fireside chats – all of which can be done virtually to connect globally dispersed teams. 

4. Keep testing and improving

As you build out your roadmap to add more diversity and inclusion initiatives to your communications plans, you’ll want to find ways to keep improving your efforts and check in on the impacts of your programs. Here are some ways to check in on your diversity and inclusion initiatives:

  • Create feedback loops: This can be done via weekly polls, continuous feedback and pulse surveys, as well as specific outreach to underrepresented groups.
  • Ask for help: Work with the D&I department and ERGs to gain feedback on messaging to make sure you’re hitting the mark. 
  • Dive into data: There is a direct correlation between diversity in the workplace and critical HR metrics such as employee retention and engagement. To review the success of your diversity and inclusion initiatives, pair anecdotal feedback with these analytics. 

By prioritizing and championing diversity and inclusion initiatives, you set your entire team up for success. The benefits of making this investment will return tenfold in the form of employee engagement, retention, and increased innovation. What more could you ask for?