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The positive impact of feedback culture in the workplace

by Ata Victor June 07, 2019

​Increased accessibility and visibility in the digital age has cultivated the demand for feedback on our food, services and even employers. Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Indeed are the unrivalled forerunners in the external feedback movement, allowing potential employees the chance to gain insight into companies’ weeks before the first interview.

Review and feedback are no longer constrained to a top-down model, reliant on downward feedback in order to develop company culture and evoke change. Websites like these have spearheaded a new workplace precedent, one that favours continuous and upwards feedback. However, the demand for upwards and lateral feedback from employees is far from exclusively external.

After the highly documented successes of Google’s ‘People Analytics’ workplace-wide rebranding of traditional HR, it seems that in order to yield higher productivity and retention and compete with flexible, independent employment – companies must consider how to successfully foster the feedback culture internally.

In 2019, definitive feedback culture is paramount for successful retention and company growth. Diversion from traditional performance management towards a more open approach is proven to increase productivity and have a positive impact on overall company culture. It is clear that the process of open feedback between employees and employers is now indispensable and comes in numerous forms:

  • Constructive feedback

Information specific focused and based on observations. This can be overtly positive or negative with the aim of correcting and resolving work based issues.

  • Praise

Solely positive observations. Most employees will respond to praise with an increase in self-esteem, self-efficacy and/or confidence.

  • Criticism

This is generally completely destructive; it establishes an issue without proving resolution or pathways for growth of your employee’s skill and career.

A successful feedback culture is vital for businesses attempting to remain office based with a strong internal culture in which employee’s feel valued. Highly-engaged companies use one-on-ones, upwards and lateral feedback between employees and leadership. Disengaged companies neglect open to feedback and employee face-time with leaders and subsequently suffer for it. However, poor feedback, in companies that favour continuous feedback culture can also have a negative impact on morale and retention.

Retention in the midst of an increasingly flexible workforce filled with disengaged Gen Ys who favour the gig economy over traditional working structures is far from easy. It is vital for companies to invest in their feedback practices in order to adapt. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce inevitability changing workplace demographics, so workplace culture must also shift accordingly. The difference in the reception of feedback already differs within different demographics.

  • Baby boomer leaders prefer giving positive feedback while their millennial counterparts prefer not to give either positive or negative feedback.

  • Millennials agreed that “my performance and possibilities for success in my career would have increased substantially if I had been given more feedback.”

For both sides, it is imperative that employers improve feedback practices in order to equip their leaders and retain workers that strongly favour flexibility. Google’s approach has placed them as the forerunners in the revision of HR through their use of human data, feedback and engagement to build an (award-winning) healthier company culture. Subordinate feedback is continuous but not anonymous or unfocused. Stewarding Good feedback practices with companies for both employer’s and employees is a continual growth process.

We suggest 5 simple ways to implement feedback culture in your business:

  • Top-down engagement

Make engagement with your company a corporate priority. Revaluating the ways in which you internally measure engagement throughout the company. Aspire for external recognition for your efforts to improve company engagement. Make sure senior leadership is aware that engagement and retention are No. 1.

  • No more annual surveys

Engagement happens in real-time and the way you assess your company culture should reflect this. Consider using data processes that already work for clients and services. Use familiar tools to better understand weaknesses and strengths. This may incur some added cost or time – but are guaranteed to boost productivity and are considerably more cost-effective than annual surveys.

  • Make work meaningful

Implement a 360 approach to leadership, coaching and performance management; this will help employees see their work as meaningful. Reinforce the importance of a coaching and feedback culture, and teach leaders how to be authentic and transparent.

  • Listen to the Millennials

Despite their bad PR, they are set to make up more than half of the workforce by 2025. Their input, desires and values will shape your company’s culture over the next 10 years.

  • Simplify

The simplification of work can help reduce the burden of today’s 24/7 work environment, this will increase employee engagement as well as their participation in training and feedback.

A culture of feedback specifically ones that work unilaterally, can help to engage the future workforce. Although it initially remits traditional HR structures, it ultimately reshapes companies culture overall, replacing reviews, reinterpretations and misunderstandings. It succeeds only when both sides feel heard and allow feedback to create substantial change. Handling people as cautiously and inventively as you do data can reap numerous rewards. Supporters of the feedback culture structures favour constructive feedback over criticisms, actionable judgements and praise in order to promote a growth-minded culture that yields higher productivity and retention of likeminded employees. 

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