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How to analyze employee feedback to inspire action

Last updated

14 November 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

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Knowing what your employees think about your business is key to creating a productive, happy workplace. Feedback is a great way to discover where employees would like to see improvements. And they might even tell you what you’re doing right. 

Still, asking the right questions and interpreting responses isn’t easy. That’s why we’re looking at employee feedback analysis today, including collection ideas and tips for implementing it. 

Why is it important to analyze employee feedback? 

If you want to improve your business, you need to know what you’re doing wrong. And you’ll want to replicate the things you’re doing well. That’s where employee feedback comes in. 

Gathering employee feedback is a great way to learn from those who matter to your business. They’ll know where improvements are needed as they're well-acquainted with the work. 

Seeking feedback also means employees know you value them and their opinions. 

Common ways to collect and analyze employee feedback 

While collection methods vary from business to business, several basic methods can work for nearly any company. 

Here are some of the most common ways to gather and analyze employee feedback:

Anonymous surveys 

Employees may not always be comfortable sharing their honest thoughts, especially if they’re worried about repercussions. They may say positive things and gloss over issues. While that’s nice for your metrics, you’re not getting the information you need. 

Anonymous surveys are the answer if you’re concerned about inaccurate feedback: Employees will feel more comfortable commenting on many issues. 

These responses can give you a better idea of the business aspects employees appreciate and those needing improvement. 

An example of an anonymous survey might be an employee satisfaction survey focused on benefits and the working environment.

Non-anonymous surveys 

Anonymous surveys often provide more helpful information than non-anonymous surveys, as employees feel free to speak their minds. 

Sometimes, it can be helpful to know who the responses came from. For example, demographic groups may have different experiences or new hires may encounter specific issues. 

It also means you can follow up with specific employees if you need more information about their responses. 

Non-anonymous surveys can be a great way to recognize employees who suggest innovative ideas that work for your company.  

An example of a non-anonymous survey is asking employees for improvement ideas with specific how-tos.

Pulse surveys 

Lengthy employee engagement surveys can unveil a wealth of information, but your employees are unlikely to have time to fill them out frequently. 

Pulse surveys provide a faster, more frequent option for asking your employees about something specific. They’re simple and only take a few minutes. 

These surveys typically consist of one to five weekly or monthly questions that give you an idea of what your team thinks about your company at that time. 

Regularly asking the same questions helps you analyze responses over time. This can help you determine whether you’re moving toward your goals, especially following changes in response to earlier pulse surveys. 

An example is asking your employees to rate their overall satisfaction with your company or a specific question about medical benefits.

Combination of open and closed-ended questions

Asking various questions can deliver more insights into how your employees feel about your company. This approach can obtain quick answers and dig deeper into the details.

Closed-ended questions are easy for your employees to respond to quickly. You can easily convert this data into easy-to-understand statistics. 

Now you have a quick view of how many employees answered yes or no or which multiple-choice answer received the most responses. 

For example, you might ask your employees whether a policy change or other initiative has positively impacted them. Or you might want to know which idea from a list of options they’d most like your company to implement. 

While these questions don’t explain why your employees feel the way they do, they provide a helpful starting point. 

Open-ended questions give your employees more freedom to explain their answers. This provides your business with more information about their response. Employees also gain peace of mind knowing you’re less likely to misinterpret their answers. 

With this option, your employees can provide as much supporting information as they want, allowing them to thoroughly describe what they think. 

Although these surveys take longer to complete than closed-ended question surveys, open-ended questions provide valuable information. 

You can use this information to create new policies and procedures that better align with their preferences while supporting your goals. 

Feedback meetings

Your company may also find success in asking employees to share their opinions in person instead of in writing. 

Employees may be more willing to quickly share information during a conversation. A chat means they don’t have to worry about carefully wording a written response. They also don’t have to wait until a survey comes around. 

It’s a great way for your company to compile lots of feedback at once. You can hold an open forum and invite everyone to share their thoughts. Or, you can take a structured approach and ask each employee to answer each question. 

Whatever you choose, these meetings can spark conversations that get everyone on your team thinking about potential changes.  

An example of a feedback meeting question might be asking new hires to provide their thoughts on onboarding. What works well, and what needs changing?

Find ways to boost participation

Employee feedback works best when you can obtain responses from as many team members as possible. That may mean providing participation incentives. 

A small discount, giveaway, raffle entry, or other reward can encourage your employees to respond to your surveys or attend feedback meetings.

An example might be offering a catered lunch to all employees if the company reaches an 80% participation rate.

Set goals to shape the questions you ask 

Knowing what you want to do with the answers you obtain can help you ask the right questions. 

Determining specific goals can ensure your survey benefits employees and your business. 

Writing questions that encourage authentic responses provides valuable insights. 

This ensures the time employees spend responding is worthwhile and provides usable results. 

How to analyze the feedback you receive

Your team can use various methods to interpret and analyze your results. Turn your basic data into information that powers the improvement of many business areas. 

Here’s how:

Read and organize

First, read all feedback carefully. Organize the comments into categories like "positive," "negative," and "suggestions."

Look for patterns

Look for things mentioned by many employees. This can show what is going well or what needs improvement.

Pay attention to emotions

Notice how employees feel: Are many happy or unhappy about something? That’s what you should be addressing. 

Focus on key points

Find the most critical feedback that can make a big difference. Don't get lost in details.

Compare with past surveys

Are there changes from previous surveys? That’ll tell you if things are getting better or worse.

Identify root causes

If there are problems, try to find the reasons behind them to generate solutions.

Discuss

Share feedback with others, like managers and team members. They might have valuable insights.

What to do with employee feedback analysis 

Here are some helpful ways to use your employee feedback results to make changes: 

Focus on high-impact areas 

It can be difficult to respond to every employee concern. Focusing on the most critical areas can have the most significant impact on your business. 

Look at management

Your business should always prioritize strong communication and collaboration. Look for areas where managers aren’t working together as well as they could. Dealing with this can improve cohesion across business areas. 

Make sustainable choices

It’s tempting to change everything to keep your employees happy. But is it sustainable? Realistically, you probably don’t have the resources for many complex changes at once.

That’s why it’s vital to prioritize what needs changing now and what can wait. If you jump the gun, you could struggle with several new ideas rather than mastering one. And that could really disappoint your employees. 

Work out what’s most important and easiest to maintain and go with that idea first. 

Exchange knowledge among leaders 

Compile information from employee surveys, conversations, and other methods. Distribute it to your organization's leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

As employee feedback reveals areas that need improvement, leaders can determine the most impactful changes. They can also see which aspects perform well, helping them replicate this across the business.

Make decisions and create action plans

Selecting changes for your business should be your goal before officially asking your employees for feedback. 

Identifying options that support business goals and align with employees’ wants can help you get the most out of the results. 

Communicate actions 

Any reputable organization has strong communication, especially during times of change. 

Telling your employees about changes you’re considering is a great way to build transparency and trust. It also provides an opportunity for better ideas to arise. 

Follow up and update 

Listening to your employees’ feedback is crucial. Taking their comments into account during decision-making shows their opinions matter. 

You can also talk to employees who suggest things that won’t work. Thank them for their input, and let them know why the idea won’t work for your business. 

Additionally, using pulse or follow-up surveys will let employees know how their suggestions lead to improvements.

FAQs

What questions should I ask my employees? 

The questions that’ll give you the results you’re looking for depend on your business and the information you need. Thinking about what you’ll do with the responses can guide you to the most appropriate questions for the most helpful results. 

Consider focusing on areas of discontent in your organization. Perhaps you’ve noticed increased turnover or inability to recruit. Look at exit surveys and employee feedback to dig into these points further.

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