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What do your staff really think of you?

You may have an open-door policy in your workplace, but there’s many reasons your staff might stay quiet about their thoughts… fear of coming across the wrong way and losing a promotion, low performance reviews or even just feel like their query is silly!

‘In a number of studies, we’ve found that when employees can voice their concerns freely, organizations see increased retention and stronger performance.’ (Harvard Business Review)

Getting this important data from your employees is integral not only to the attraction and retention of great staff, but to the overall outcomes of your business.

To get the information we really need from our people, we need to ensure they don’t fear the looming potential consequences of their words.

We’ve compiled a few resources to help you get honest with your staff, get the feedback you need and the buy in of your employees for a positive outcome!

1.    Anonymous feedback

Anonymous feedback can be a fool-proof way to get the uncensored opinions from your team; using free services such as Survey Monkey

Although anonymous surveys deliver on the data, they can sometimes be perceived as having the opposite effect we intend:

The Harvard Business Review also says ‘allowing employees to remain unidentified actually underscores the risks of speaking up—and reinforces people’s fears. The subtext is “It’s not safe to share your views openly in this organization. So we’ve created other channels to get the information we need.” It also poses an issue if serious issues are brought up in the anonymity (such as anti-discriminatory behaviour, abuse, illegal activity etc.) as it cannot be followed up without knowing who is claiming this.

A good way to mitigate these issues around anonymous feedback is to bring in a third party. Not only does outsourcing with a non-biased professional show your staff you’re invested in their views feelings and qualms, but you want to make sure it's handled properly, by experts. Outsourcing this activity also gives you access to professionals who can tailor an approach to your business and use methods to get the most meaningful data out of your surveys. They can also help you utilise this data in a practical way, assist with evidence-based decision making and highlight growth opportunities.

2.      Create a “Communication Culture”!

Your staff are more likely to be straight up with you if you encourage it, of course, but there are a few specific things you can do as a manager to let your employees know you’re here to listen, and act on what they say.

Align your staff with the business strategy.

Letting your team in on the bigger picture gives them a buy-in and gives them more responsibility for the end results and goals of the organisation. Your employees understanding what contribution they’re making to a wider goal can give more purpose and meaning behind their tasks.

If your staff can see how their input is impacting the end result, they may be more likely to share some ideas or identify opportunities!

Ask them for their opinions.

Seems obvious – but a business-wide email can sometimes come across as a big wall between your thoughts and the input of your staff. Sometimes it might be good to back off the one-way communication for a scaled-down conversation, asking your employees for their input before a big decision is made. Once again, this buy-in for the staff goes a long way in motivating them to be on board with a common goal. Try to make sure this infomation is relevant for the staff you’re communicating with. Ask them “what do you think about that?” or “do you have any thoughts on that?” to open up a discussion about how decisions might impact them.

Multiple Communication Streams

Whether it’s a quick chat in each other’s office or a team chat on the Teams app – provide your staff with a stream of communication that is less formal than emails. Keep the topics of conversation work-friendly and professional, but reach out for a general chat from time to time!

3.      Staff feedback and engagement forms

Use these non-anonymous forms to create a more personal approach to understanding your workforce. Where an anonymous survey could serve to get some issues off their chest, an engagement and feedback form can offer an opportunity to really get to know your team.

By asking teams to use rating systems or give feedback on these forms and then using this data similarly to anonymous data, you can get detailed and specific on your growth areas and strengths in the team. Remember, the happiness and wellbeing of your employees directly relates to your business productivity; it’s a great opportunity to ask them what they would like to see more of in the workplace and what they’re already enjoying. Use this infomation to aid you in motivating and increasing the retention of your staff. Understand the specific career goals of your staff and give them the opportunity to let you know what they’re aiming for too.

You can use sites like to gather this data.

Collecting as much data on what your staff really think about work will give you all the insights you need to motivate, attract and retain great people who will be on board with your organisational goals.

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