The Importance of Feedback Loops in Staff Retention

By on December 6, 2022

Employee retention is a genuine problem and seems to grow every day! Employee turnover is expected to be 50-75% higher than companies have previously seen. What’s worse is that it’s taking about 20% longer to fill roles than it was pre-Covid. 

Companies are looking for different ways to keep their employees engaged and retain their best talent. Offering more money, in most cases, doesn’t seem to be the answer.

Employees today want to make an impact, want their contribution to mean something, and want to work for companies that are making a difference. Implementing feedback loops is one way by which employees feel heard and as if their opinions matter. 

What are feedback loops?

Let’s first start with the basics. Feedback is an analytical study of an activity or process or its results and can be of various types

Feedback loops – as the name suggests – are continuous process of soliciting feedback, making changes based on feedback received, and seeking further feedback on the changes made. 

Feedback loops can be used to improve the internal workings of an organization. These focus on internal processes, operations, and functions and use employee feedback and opinions to improve the company’s functioning. They are referred to as positive feedback loops, resulting in internal changes and improvements and better employee engagement and retention. 

Feedback loops can also focus on customer criticism, complaints, and feedback. These are called negative feedback loops, and reviews are collected from various channels, including social media, surveys, emails, etc. These negative feedback loops result in an enhanced customer experience and good PR for the company. 

This article, however, focuses on positive feedback loops and their impact on employee retention. 

How feedback loops serve as an employee engagement strategy

Feedback loops are fast becoming one of the best ways to improve work conditions, enhance organizational culture and ensure that employees feel heard, appreciated, and motivated. 

Employee feedback loops involve a system that allows employees to voice their opinions and concerns. These are taken into consideration to make visible improvements. However, these feedback loops need to have a purpose of being effective.

With a well-defined purpose, these feedback loops can be a great tool to enhance employee engagement. Say, for example, your company wants feedback on new in-house facilities to be introduced for employees. You can set up a system where employees can volunteer to try out these new facilities and provide targeted feedback on their experience.

Based on your feedback, the HR team can make further tweaks to improve employee facilities and experience. The same employees can be asked to review the facilities after the changes have been made and give more feedback. 

This situation is a win-win for the company and its employees. The company is confident of introducing facilities that will be well-received and utilized by their employees. The employees participating in reviewing and refining these facilities feel like their opinions and feedback matter. They can see a real-time implementation of the feedback that they give. 

This is just one way that a feedback loop can be implemented. Other feedback loop examples include:

  • Improving communications between managers and their teams.
  • Improving work conditions through formal employee surveys and exit interviews.
  • Even soliciting customer reviews on products and services.

Implementing effective feedback loops

As with any other process, implementing employee feedback loops is most effective when it follows a particular system. Although, seeking feedback towards continuous improvement is an art that can be learned!

Implementing effective feedback loops

1. Clarify the Objective:

To ensure that this process works best, the goal needs to be clearly defined. What kind of result do you need? What is the intent of introducing the employee feedback loop? Once that is clear, it becomes easier to design the rest of the process.

2. Identify feedback channels: 

You can choose to have this step completely structured or informal. A structured method would involve setting up surveys or questionnaires, which could be online or emailed to employees. Informal methods could include asking employees to leave anonymous feedback in drop boxes or to send emails with their opinions.
Based on the channels you choose, you may need to train employees to offer their opinions, fill in survey forms or send feedback.
You can also choose to monitor online forums where employees can rate the organizations for which they work.
Whatever method best suits your needs or the purpose of the feedback loop, ensure your employees know that their feedback is appreciated. More importantly, ensure they know where and how to voice their opinions. 

3. Fix timelines: 

To maintain structure in the process, you need to create a schedule and maintain it. Feedback loops cannot be initiated and implemented at random. They should have a proper agenda – for example, how often feedback will be collected, at what intervals feedback will be analyzed, and the timelines within which changes will be implemented. 

While these may change based on the process for which feedback is sought and the type of feedback received, it at least provides a framework to work.

4. Analyze:

When all the feedback has been received, it must be collated and analyzed to move into the next loop phase.

The analysis depends on what type of feedback has been solicited and received. Of course, this exercise is much easier when dealing with quantitative data, ratings, and the like. 

When your data comes to you as answers to open-ended questions, you can gain many insights, but it becomes more challenging to organize and examine. Fortunately, the analysis of such unstructured data doesn’t have to be done manually any longer. There’s plenty of software available to analyze this data and get you the intelligence you seek from it. 

5. Time to act: 

Whether it’s quantitative data, unstructured data, or a mix of both, if you’ve planned and executed your feedback loop well, you should have plenty of insights and opinions. Be sure to use these to tweak your product or service perfectly. 

After you’ve made the changes, remember to notify those that have taken the time to evaluate and give their considered opinions. Highlight the changes made as a result of the positive feedback loop. As an extra step, you can also acknowledge valuable ideas or strong opinions that couldn’t be feasibly implemented. This lets your employees know that they’ve been heard and considered. Thus improving their sense of worth in the organization and the team’s overall morale. 

6. Close the loop: 

Just as an employee feedback loop must have a purpose and a clear plan of execution, care must also be taken so that it does not go on endlessly. There must be an actual closing of the loop. 

This can happen once the feedback is received, changes implemented, and employees are asked to do one final test or review of the product or service you plan to implement. The last survey need not be as comprehensive as the initial one. It can only be based on what improvements have been made with one or two open-ended questions. 

Positive feedback loops are an essential tool and can be used to increase employee engagement. They can also be used for better communication between managers and their teams. Using this tool, feedback on employee performance can be done more often. This continuous and regular performance feedback allows employees to be more aware of what’s expected of them and can seek the necessary support and training they need to excel at their jobs.

The result of these feedback loops not only ensures the retention of an organization’s best talent but also encourages a sense of active participation. This leads to a sense of ownership and contribution to the organization’s success!

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