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Why continuous employee feedback will unlock success in an ever-changing business world

Performance Review

Thanks to the likes of Gallup and other workplace pollsters, it’s a generally  accepted (and rather depressing), fact that 70% of staff are simply not ‘fully engaged’ (and therefore not fully performing), in the workplace. Unhelpfully there is often a litany of complex and interrelated reasons as to why this might be. They might include having a dismal office environment; low pay; lack of flexible working; poor training and development or over-burdensome workloads. Unsurprisingly, which of these to tackle – and by how much – is often a difficult question to answer. There is, it is said, no single silver bullet.

The power of feedback

Or is there? Increasingly, experts are beginning to understand the power of good, honest feedback – but not just any old feedback; more continuous feedback at that. According to new research1 employees feel decidedly short-changed by the persistence of firms to actually ‘engage back with them’ so infrequently. It finds 70% still follow the traditional annual review, yet what staff actually want (from 64%), are far more regular performance check-ups. 

By ‘regular’, researchers are discovering that even quarterly reviews no longer cut the mustard. A study by PwC found 60% wanted feedback on a daily or at least a weekly basis – and yes, you guessed it, that increased to 72% for the more the digitally-connected Generation Z – people for whom waiting a few hours for a like or re-tweet or response to a message feels like an eternity.

Regular feedback makes sense

At an intuitive level, it’s easy to see why staff want regular one-to-ones. At a time when change is omnipresent; and work is being organised in much more project-based ways (and with more short-term achievable targets), the very concept of annual catch-ups feels decidedly outdated. But there’s much more to it than this. In an age where staff increasingly demand to contribute to more purpose-driven companies, what employees really need to feel (ie experience), is the sensation that they matter; that they are a part of the bigger corporate purpose; that they belong. This is when 360 degree feedback – that which includes the input of peers as well as supervisors and managers – comes into its own. At its simplest, it’s regular involvement, including as many people as possible, that breeds inclusion. Regular communication builds commitment. 

And to all those that might suggest one-to-ones typify the worst of HR wooliness, comes some of the most staggering data of all – for instance, the fact that staff whose managers regularly communicate are three times more engaged than those with managers who don’t; with an eye-popping 43% of highly-engaged employees saying they receive feedback at least once a week.

As we all know, the link between engagement and productivity is now no longer even debated, and given Gallup finds managers are responsible for at least 70% of the variance in their employee engagement, it’s clear that the regular dispensing of feedback rests squarely on their shoulders.

Linking feedback to performance is win-win

Some employees might only need a quick ‘thanks’ over coffee, or a snatched moment over lunch. For others though – who may need more structure to work productively – feedback might have to be more regular, and planned, and most closely linked to performance goals. That’s when guiding feedback against actual performance, via a team or goals dashboard, can be so valuable. Staff feel valuable when technology recommends shout-outs for work well done; while managers can see who they might need to give extra coaching. 

Regular communication really is win-win. When employee-manager trust grows, great things can happen. It really doesn’t take long for organisations to start to notice the performance difference this can make. So, isn’t it time you got into the habit of regular feedback? If you're interested in seeing how cutting-edge HR Software can take your performance reviews to the next level, you can book a demo or try us yourself, free for 14 days.

September 2019 - Amongst 300 HR leaders, 500 managers and 1,000 employees by ClearReview