Are You Asking for Employee Feedback? If Not, Good Luck With Retention. In a survey that Franchise Business Review conducted, over half of industry leaders admitted to never getting formal feedback from their teams. That's a giant missed opportunity for retaining talent.

By Michelle Rowan

This story appears in the July 2022 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Turnover. These days, it's hard to think of a word that carries a higher price tag for businesses. And yet, many leaders are still blind to their employees' needs.

What's the problem? My company, Franchise Business Review, surveyed industry leaders about their employee management practices, and learned that half have never gotten formal feedback from their employees.

That's a huge miss. If you want to know how your employees feel in key areas — and then address their feelings and keep them in their jobs — then you need a true system to do so. Every company is different, so the insights they seek and receive from surveys will vary. But at a minimum, you should be evaluating responses to these five statements:

I receive the support I need to do my job well.

I have defined goals and clear measures for my performance.

I receive the recognition I deserve for a job well done.

I enjoy the relationships I have with my coworkers.

My manager cares about my success.

You may be surprised by what you hear. In our research, we've identified some common points of dissatisfaction that are particularly detrimental to retention. So once your employee feedback is in hand, here's how you can start addressing those issues.

Related: Improve Employee Retention By Taking a People-First Approach

1. Break down silos.

One of the lowest scoring questions on our survey is, "Do you receive the support you need from other departments?" If you're seeing low scores there, too, you need to build a culture that emphasizes accountability
to the company's larger goals — and to other teams.

After one of our clients saw their own low scores, they set up focus groups made up of a wide mix of team members. Each group met regularly over five weeks to discuss the survey data and brainstorm solutions. At the end, they presented to the executive team, which created a follow-up survey to drill down into the top issues to tackle the coming year. The company shared those objectives with the entire staff.

2. Be specific in your feedback.

According to Gallup in 2019, only 26% of employees believed the feedback they received at work helped them do a better job. Our own research shows a quarter of corporate franchise employees do not have defined goals and clear measures for their performance.

If you are vague with your employees, they may not understand what you need from them. For example, it's nice to tell someone that they did a good job on the website project — but it doesn't convey much. Try something like, "I appreciate that you were able to get cross-departmental buy-in to meet the deadlines on the website launch and save time for the developers." The same goes for negative feedback: Focus on specific behaviors that can be changed and provide actionable suggestions for improvement.

Related: Employee Retention: 4 Tips to Help Keep Your Top Talent

3. Invest in success.

"People don't leave companies; they leave managers." You've heard it before — and it's true. Today's leaders need more soft-skills training. If you are in a small organization and know there isn't a long-term career path for your employees, be upfront about that — but show them you're still invested in their growth.

For example, Tamra Kennedy is a multi-unit Taco John's franchisee with over 100 employees, many of whom are teens in their first job. She knows they won't be there forever. Still, she emphasizes that their restaurant skills — customer service, communication, multi-tasking, stress management, math, teamwork, and confidence — will be valuable in their next chapter, whether that's in the restaurant, their education, or another career.

Being a leader today means you can't just leave it to your managers to lead. You need to be much more involved and accessible to everyone in the organization. Research from Dale Carnegie in 2020 showed that 85% of CEOs said employee engagement is a top priority, but employees rated leadership lowest in terms of contributing to their engagement. Today's workforce wants more authenticity and transparency than ever before. When you focus on how they feel working for you, you'll reduce turnover — and attract your next great hires.

Related: 3 Ways Franchisors Can Recruit for Diversity

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