Acting on frontline employee feedback at scale

Acting on frontline employee feedback at scale

You know collecting employee feedback from your frontline workers is an absolute must. And you know there are a number of ways to collect this valuable intel.

But once you’ve gathered this employee feedback, what happens next? 

Especially when we’re talking feedback from thousands (or hundreds of thousands!) of employees, how do you take the ideas and feedback they’re sending you and put it to use? 

This is where the difference between deskless and deskbound workers really comes into play. For deskbound workers, employee feedback is often more of an HR KPI. Gathering upward feedback is about giving employees a voice, and making sure their concerns are heard. 

The same benefits are there for deskless workers, but there’s also a huge business opportunity to tap into as well. Your frontline workers are just that: on the front line. They are seeing things that head office isn’t. So the feedback they’re sharing can make-or-break your business: customer insights, updates to tactical processes, ways to boost productivity, and more. 

That’s why it’s so critical for deskless and frontline organizations to have a way to organize and act on employee feedback – because they can turn those ideas into increased revenue, higher sales, and more efficient processes. Plus, acting on feedback is the best way to ensure your workforce continues to engage in your feedback loops. As one writer put it, there’s no such thing as survey fatigue when you act on employee feedback.

Here are 5 ways for frontline organizations to use employee feedback at scale:

1. Find common sentiment

A great place to start with employee feedback is finding common sentiment with what your frontline staff has to say. This is particularly useful with types of feedback like process change ideas or manager feedback, where finding that common thread amongst thousands of ideas is a huge time-saver. Knowing more than one staff member has the same feedback to share gives it more weight.

Gathering common sentiment can be done a few different ways. Using forums or surveys, you can seek feedback around a question or topic, like “How can we make our inventory update process more efficient?”

Depending on the communication tools you have in place, you can then identify those common threads through word clouds, sentiment analysis, or other analytics tools. After all, there’s strength in numbers, and when you find shared sentiment, you’ll have a better understanding of what actually needs to be changed or updated. 

Nudge’s digital communication platform makes it easy to collect feedback at scale and highlight the key sentiments coming from your team! Learn more here

2. Focus on specific insights

Being specific about the feedback you’re looking for is another way to leverage the intel quickly and easily. This relates to the types of feedback you’re collecting, but also the topic. Be clear on why you’re asking for feedback, and what outcome you’re hoping for. For example, if you’re looking to improve your loyalty program, you want to be more specific than just asking for “Feedback on our loyalty program.” instead, you could reach out to your workforce and say “We’re launching a forum to collect thoughts on how we can improve our loyalty program. Enrollment has been down, so we encourage you all to share best practices and ideas on how you’re enticing customers to sign up.” 

That way, you’ll get at the specific insights and ideas that come straight from the frontline. When you’re collecting specific feedback like this, it’s much easier to act on it quickly. 

3. Let your workers identify great ideas

Again, this tactic depends on what feedback channels you have in place. But when your organization utilizes features that allow employees to engage with each other’s feedback (through likes or comments) some of the heavy lifting is done for you. 

For example, if you’ve asked your workforce for feedback on your health and safety protocols, a company-wide forum allows all employees to see all ideas. So instead of repeating the same feedback again and again, workers can just engage with the ideas they agree with – and head office can focus on the comments that get the most engagement.

This can also work to foster communication around specific ideas and let your teams build on feedback with additional suggestions or constructive criticism. Who says collaboration can’t happen in dispersed teams? 

4. Zero in on tips from top-performing (and worst-performing) regions

Quick: where are your top-performing regions, locations, or employees? (If you don’t know how to identify them at scale, here’s a quick primer.) Knowing these top performers will help you to focus your attention when it comes to employee feedback. Focusing on the tried-and-true suggestions from these regions or locations can help to identify quality feedback quickly – and find best practices to implement at other locations.

The same can be said for your lowest-performing regions and locations. If you see regions that are struggling, pay close attention to their responses to feedback requests. They’ll provide a lot of insight on what isn’t working, and what changes can be made for improvement. 

5. Use numbered-focused feedback

Open-text responses are obviously crucial to any organization. But need to get a fast look at the opinions, morale, and overall mood of your workforce at a scale? Consider feedback that’s numbers-focused, like surveys with multiple choice responses or ranked answers. 

For example, if a survey asks “how safe do you feel at work?” with the prompted response being an answer between one (not safe at all) and ten (extremely safe), you can use the responses to see at a glance where your workforce is at. 

It can be challenging to parse through what seems like an endless list of employee feedback, ideas, and best-practices – but using the above tips will help you to identify those game-changing ideas quickly and easily. 

Collecting employee feedback: 4 tried-and-true methods

Collecting employee feedback: 4 tried-and-true methods

We’ve talked about why to track feedback. We’ve talked about what types of feedback to collect. But what about how you should be collecting employee feedback? 

When it comes to collecting employee feedback, your deskless workforce needs a specialized approach. After all, your teams aren’t in front of a computer all day. They’re not all working 9 to 5. They’re spread across the country – or further. That means you can’t collect these valuable insights in one-on-one meetings or other other standard deskbound channels. 

In a more fluid workplace, it’s important to have the right channels in place when collecting upward feedback from employees, whether it’s an idea, complaint about a coworker, customer insight, health or safety concern, you name it. 

Not sure what channel is best for your organization when collecting employee feedback? Here are 4 tried-and-true options to consider:

1. Surveys

We know what you’re thinking – you hear surveys and instantly roll your eyes. There’s no shortage of articles talking about the challenges of employee surveys – but the truth of the matter is that it is a tried and tested method, if it’s done right.  If you fail to take the time to ask the right questions, or try to share surveys in the wrong places, you won’t get the kind of answers you’re looking for. 

One of the biggest criticisms of employee surveys is that they only collect employee feedback once or twice a year. You don’t want to let a brilliant employee idea or a potentially concerning customer complaint pass you by, especially when you consider that 58% of employees wish their company conducted employee engagement surveys more frequently. 

That’s why pulse surveys are a great option. That way, you can foster a feedback culture  – and your employees get used to the regular cadence of being asked for their feedback, ideas, and concerns. With pulse surveys, you’re asking a shorter list of questions (sometimes, only one!) on a more regular basis. As Achievers explains, “Making surveys quick and easy for employees to complete leads to greater participation and stronger, more reliable results. Pulse surveys also allow for streamlined data collection and timely analysis of results, so organizations can respond to feedback quickly.”

2. Forums

This is a go-to for Nudge. When it comes to collecting employee ideas and sharing best practices at scale, forums are a great option. Employee feedback forums are an online communication channel where employees aren’t just sending ideas up to head office, they’re engaging with each other’s comments and insights as well. This is more of an open channel where workers can build on other peoples’ ideas, especially around a specific topic or question. 

The best forums are easy to use and accessible at all times (frontline employees using Nudge, for example, can access Spark Sessions via their phones). After all, inspiration can strike at any time – you want to make sure your workforce can log their ideas or customer insights before they’re forgotten. 

This method of collecting employee feedback has its challenges too – if you’re bringing thousands of employees into a forum, you need to ensure you have the right tools in place to capture common sentiments and great ideas (Psst…Nudge can help with that!). The worst feedback mistake you can make is not following up on the great ideas your employees share. 

3. Ask me anythings (AMAs)

Ask me anythings (a.k.a. AMAs) aren’t just for celebs on Reddit. These Q&A sessions are a great way to collect questions and concerns that senior leadership needs to address pronto. Usually questions are submitted ahead of time (often anonymously) and they’re answered in a forum, virtual town hall, or any number of other digital communication channels. 

AMAs can take place at any time, but they’re particularly useful around major product launches or after leadership has made a significant announcement. Providing a space for every employee to ask questions sends the message that they are safe, supported, and heard – and they’re an integral part of the organization. 

In a Forbes article on his AMAs, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein explains, “When I get up to field questions, I’m showing my team that I’m really willing to listen to them: that their feedback is valuable and their experience matters just as much as mine. It’s truly one of the most important things I do in my job.”

4. Face-to-face conversations

This one is tricky. If a frontline worker has something directly to say to their manager or supervisor, then there’s always the option of providing feedback through a face-to-face conversation. While this can be a valuable option for more personal concerns, it’s hard to level up. First, feedback can go through the broken telephone game as it makes its way back up to head office from the floor manager. If a worker gives a critical insight, idea, or suggestion to their manager, they have to pass it along. When the feedback gets to the right person, is the original idea still there, or has it become convoluted?

Second, this channel is highly dependent on the availability of an individual’s manager and how urgent the feedback is. There’s also a concern that this approach can be inconsistent across locations and regions, which can drive a lack of psychological safety at an organizational level. 

If face-to-face feedback is crucial to your frontline organization (research suggests that 95% of professionals consider face-to-face communication vital for long-term business), consider running focus groups or structured group feedback sessions as a way to gather those insights in a more standardized way. Or, work with floor managers to bring collected feedback directly into your digital communication platform or feedback channel to ensure no idea gets lost. 

Collecting employee feedback can seem like a major challenge for larger frontline and deskless organizations. But with the right feedback channels in place, it can be simple and easy to foster a feedback culture and collect those insights seamlessly, no matter what the scale. And once you have your channels in place, be sure to follow these steps to track and improve your programs!

Proven ROI of 484%

Forrester Consulting's Total Economic Impact™ study found a 484% ROI with Nudge!*

*over three years.