The best workplaces are those that listen to employees and act upon their feedback in a way that benefits both the enterprise and its employees. In fact, companies that implement regular employee feedback see 14.9% lower turnover rates.

However, the idea of inviting employees to submit their feedback and ideas can feel like opening the floodgates. Worries about the volume of input, as well as the quality of the commentary, cause many leadership teams to put employee feedback on the back burner.

The key to gathering employee feedback that is both useful and manageable is found in a simple framework that can be used to inform decisions and corresponding actions that we call The DARE Approach™.

What is structured feedback?

Before we jump into the DARE Approach itself, it’s useful to think about structured feedback in the context of inviting your employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

Structured feedback is the feedback received as the result of a survey or questionnaire. In most cases, the feedback relates specifically to the questions posed. Examples of unstructured feedback include comments on a blog post or responses to a social posting, in which the feedback may be on any aspect or angle of the post to which the commentator is responding.

How to gather structured employee feedback:

The quality of the feedback received is dependent on several factors, including the nature of the questions asked, whether or not employees will feel their responses will make a difference, and the organisation’s track record (if one exists) on using prior feedback. With all this in mind, the three keys to gathering useful, actionable employee feedback are:

  • Ask specific questions. Questions that are vague or open-ended are more likely to generate unfocused responses, whereas questions that are more specific result in more useful feedback. For example, consider these two similar questions:

“What suggestions do you have for leadership?” 

“What suggestions do you have for improving the employee experience?”

Both invite employees to offer suggestions to leaders. However, the first question is extremely broad and is likely to generate similarly wide-ranging responses.

However, the second question focuses answers on “the employee experience,” and by doing so, will produce feedback that is more relevant and useful to company leadership. In fact, analysis of the feedback to this question may even reveal trends or patterns, which are of even more utility to leaders.

  • Set expectations for use of input and responses. A great way to cut off the feedback spigot and deprive the leadership team of employee feedback is to make people feel like their input goes into a void.

Tell the team how you’ll be using the feedback, and follow up with them by highlighting key themes and particularly insightful comments. These actions build trust and show employees that their voices are truly being heard.

  • Make employee feedback a habit. If you ask for employee feedback once a year, chances are good the volume will be overwhelming. However, if you survey your team consistently (we recommend surveying quarterly), feedback becomes part of standard operating procedure, and everyone gets better at it.

The DARE Approach to gathering employee feedback

We’ve developed a simple framework to gather structured employee feedback based on our years of experience in surveying teams. We call it “DARE” and it comprises four elements: Define, Ask, Refine, Engage. These four simple steps can help you advance your business by using input from your employees efficiently and productively.

When you involve your employees in moving the business forward, they become stakeholders, not bystanders, and are measurably more engaged and productive. 

Define: It starts with a leadership meeting focused on achieving consensus and commitment at a senior level on a topic or issue. This is always an energising and enlightening experience that in itself creates alignment through healthy discussion.

Ask: With leadership focused and energised, your next step is to ensure your employees feel the same by asking for their feedback and ideas. Nobody knows your business as well as they do and their insights will inform your decisions and actions, ensuring they resonate with your people.

Refine: With your team’s feedback, the next step is to bring the leadership team together to review the results. It’s always enlightening, often filled with ‘ah-ha’ moments, and is another opportunity to create total cohesion at a senior level. Refine the feedback to create statements that leaders can carry forward, and use to motivate and inspire the team.

Engage: When you incorporate employee feedback into business decisions, the voice of your employees becomes part of your organisation’s DNA, and the benefits are manifold: your people will feel valued and respected, which are cornerstones of employee engagement. Engaged employees show up present, focused, and energised by their work, which improves retention, morale, and performance.

On-Demand surveys make gathering employee feedback easy
One last note regarding the DARE Approach and structured employee feedback: Engagement Multiplier’s library of topic-specific On-Demand surveys are fantastic tools for acquiring topical and focused input from your team. Additionally, you can also create your own using our On-Demand capability. Either way, On-Demand surveys are particularly good at delivering specific and useful input from your team.