How Feedback Loops Increase Employee Retention

15 November 2022 | 5 Minute
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How Feedback Loops Increase Employee Retention

Feedback loops should allow employees to openly and honestly give their input about their organisation to enable a feedback culture. Such loops should highlight concerns and strengthen relationships to help the team cope with challenges or change, and should also aid employee engagement, communication, commitment and employee retention. 

However, there’s plenty of scope for feedback loops to go wrong or not fully deliver.

Here's why you need to create or enhance your organisational feedback loops to improve employee retention.

But first let’s understand…

What is a Feedback Loop?

A feedback loop is a process to measure feedback. It is often used to improve customer service by gaining feedback from customers about a product or service. However, it's also a useful tool to gain feedback and measure employee engagement to improve the workplace culture and make it a better place for employees.


Positive and Negative Feedback Loops

You can use different feedback loops to collect positive and negative feedback. It's pretty self-explanatory, but a positive feedback loop is designed to listen to employee feedback, including complaints or concerns, to identify improvements and how to implement them. This output will give you, as the organisation, honest and open employee grievances so that you can put in place options for change to improve the organisational culture.

A negative feedback loop is concerned with gaining feedback or output from customers and using the feedback to improve products or services.

Both positive and negative feedback loops include four stages which are:

  • Creating input
  • Gathering input
  • Analysing and evaluating input
  • Making decisions and conclusions from the input 


Feedback Helps With Organisational Change

Change will always occur in an organisation, regardless of the type of industry, whether large or small, old or young. And organisational change can be an incredibly positive experience. However, when it comes to restructuring or mergers and acquisitions, change can be feared or difficult for employees to deal with.

In three studies of the impact of restructuring different organisations and making redundancies, findings report that effective communication was key. When employees were given clear feedback on the rationale behind the restructuring and their redundancy, they were more accepting of it. If there is no clear feedback or explanation, then there is a risk to morale and employee engagement.


Feedback Loops Are Proactive

By creating a feedback culture, you are regularly asking your people for their input, you are empowering them to share their opinions and thoughts, and you may also find and solve issues before they become bigger problems. 

They can turn you from a reactive culture to a proactive culture of identifying issues and quickly putting in place measures to improve them. This can keep employee morale and engagement as not only are employees being given a voice, but they are also seeing a proactive approach to problem-solving.


Listening and Feedback Loops

For a feedback loop to be effective, those who are giving and receiving the feedback must be fully engaged. This is no easy feat, but listening is essential to the feedback loop.

There are several reasons for this. In order to react to employee feedback, you need to listen to it. This isn't a tick-box exercise where you let your people speak, and you don't listen or gather information from them because that can do more harm than good. You need to find ways to listen to their feedback and be prepared not only to ask questions you may find uncomfortable but also to receive information that may not be positive.

Once you have collected the feedback through the feedback loop, you need to be able to analyse the input from your people and be objective about what they're telling you. Then you can put into place action plans and consider which areas need to be dealt with immediately and which are less urgent. Such action plans need to be shared with others so that more than one person is accountable, and there should be dates in place for reviews.

A crucial part of the feedback loop is how you communicate back to the people who have given you the feedback in the first place. For example, if you collect employee feedback and take the time to analyse and action it, this isn't going to encourage your people if you don't tell them what you're doing with their feedback. 

Therefore, you need to communicate to them what you have done to review their feedback and how you intend to make changes. If you do all the hard work and forget this final step of communication, you risk demotivating your people and reducing engagement.


An Example Of An Employee Feedback Loop

Employee feedback surveys are an excellent example of employee feedback loops and should include the steps mentioned above. 

For example, you carry out an employee feedback survey to gain valuable feedback from your people about various aspects of working for your organisation.

Once you have the feedback, you analyse it and look for trends and areas where the organisation is doing well and areas where improvement is required. 

Next, you create action plans to ensure that you are putting in ways to make improvements in the low-scoring areas. Your action plans should include measurable actions and have clear timelines for delivery or reviews.

Finally, you communicate the feedback results and actions to your people to ensure they understand how their feedback is being used and therefore valued. This also reiterates that their input has been listened to and ways to resolve concerns are in place. 

This loop should enhance engagement, create a culture of transparency and trust, and help with employee retention.


Some Final Thoughts

Although employment engagement surveys are a good example of feedback loops, be careful not to limit yourself to just doing the odd survey to gather feedback. To truly create a workplace where employees can give and receive feedback as the norm, ensure that feedback is encouraged and listened to.

There are many ways to do this, but initiatives such as suggestion boxes or regular mini surveys or polls can help to give your people a chance to give feedback whenever they want to rather than sitting on it.

Feedback loops should be safe spaces where opinions and input are nurtured and listened to, because the outcome of employees not speaking up or feeling like they are heard could be frustration demotivation and turnover.

If you want the best chance of improving employee retention in your organisation, then either introduce employee feedback loops or assess the feedback loops you already have. By giving your employees a voice that you act upon, you can unblock lines of communication and show your people that you are interested in their input and are proactively seeking it and acting on it. In turn, this should improve your culture and help you to retain your people.

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