Boost Employees' Engagement by Truly Inviting Their Feedback Managers are bypassing an important resource if they don't solicit staff opinion. Check out six ways to do so.

By Raphael Crawford-Marks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


How's your company doing? Are employees happy -- really?

Many organizations are struggling to develop a culture that's compelling enough to engage and retain their talent.

A 2012 Gallup study of workplaces in 140 countries found 87 percent of workers are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, ultimately leading them to be less productive. Yet last year Deloitte studied 2,500 organizations in 90 countries and found that only 17 percent of managers believe they have an engaging and compelling employment brand.

Ask employees for their feedback about their experience at the company to help identify what's going well and what could use some improvement -- but do so tactfully. Here are a few tips for asking employees for feedback to gain an accurate snapshot of the organization's culture:

Related: Inspire Performance by Providing Optimum Feedback

1. Ask who or what makes employees happy at work.

If there's a decline in productivity among employees, it might be a sign something's not quite right. Ask employees what they like the most about their job at the moment and the things have enjoyed in the past. Have there been major structural changes at the company to employee roles that affect the type of work he or she does?

In research released in 2012 by OnePoll, 65 percent of more than 1,000 U.K. adult workers surveyed said being happy at work makes them more productive. And a University of Warwick study last year of more than 700 individuals revealed happy employees are 12 percent more productive.

Take into account how personal problems outside the office might affect employees' work and let them know their well-being matters. Then work with employees to develop a plan to incorporate more of what makes them happy at work on a regular basis.

2. Encourage peers to evaluate one another.

It's impossible for managers to know all that transpires in an office between colleagues. To better understand how employees communicate with one another and how they perceive the performance of others, ask them to evaluate their peers. This can reveal people's strengths in helping co-workers.

For example, Jason might occasionally help Melinda use Photoshop when he notices her struggling with it. Although being proficient in Photoshop isn't part of his official work role, he is well versed in it. His manager might not know he has these skills until Melinda publicly recognizes him for his help.

Related: Smart Leaders Keep Their Ego in Check and Listen In

3. Solicit employees' values and reinforce the company's.

On a regular basis, ask employees what they value, personally and professionally. See whether your organization's values and staffers' answers align.

A study published in 2013 in the Research Journal of Recent Sciences measured the alignment between organizational goals and the personal objectives of workers at an Iranian steel company. The researchers found "better alignment increases the chance of accomplishment of missions," leading to lower costs because of efficiency. "When employees share the values of their organization, they would acquire a clear understanding of the importance of products and service they provide for customers."

Feedback from employees can also be effective for managers in figuring out if the company's core values are evident in the company's day-to-day life. The process of soliciting employee viewpoints is a good organizational self-checkup.

Ask staffers if they feel the organization could do a better job in demonstrating core values and request suggestions.

When employees can directly relate their own work role to their organization's success, they may feel their work is significant. They can be more proud of what they do and their company.

4. Give staffers a way to record their opinions.

If employees have the freedom to voice their views in writing, they might take more care in crafting what they say, especially if it will be public.

And if employees have the chance to review the feedback of others, they might notice they're not the only ones who feel a certain way about some aspect of the company or a role. It could help reinforce their opinions or spur new ways of thinking about the organization.

5. Validate contributions of staffers.

Don't make employees feel they need to give a certain response to the comments of others. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, let employees know their observations and opinions are helpful and always reward honesty.

If employees aren't allowed to be honest, negative emotions will begin to seep into the organization's culture along with perhaps months of painful turnover.

6. Focus on moving forward.

There's no point in dwelling too much on the past. When the company receives employee feedback, the goal should always be to take the knowledge and move forward. So when inviting staffers' feedback, request that it be conveyed with a "forward-thinking" mindset.

Ask employees what they hope to see happen at the organization in the future. But don't leave these lofty ideas forever dangling in the distance. Consider what this means the organization might be missing at the moment and help bring proposed ambitions into the present.

Related: 5 Steps to Getting Better Employee Feedback (Even If You Hate It)

Raphael Crawford-Marks

Co-Founder and CEO, Bonusly

Raphael Crawford-Marks is the co-founder and CEO of Bonusly, a New York City company providing a web platform that helps companies reward and motivate employees by using peer-to-peer bonuses.

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