Don’t request feedback only to ignore it, report reminds employers

Employers must be wary of asking employees to lend their voice if they’re not prepared to take action on that feedback, a McLean & Co. report reminded employers June 20; doing so may erode trust and hinder engagement.

While many employers now understand the importance of listening to workers, McLean said, employees still say they do not feel heard — which means employers may not be using feedback to inform strategy.

“Continuously asking employees for feedback without taking action only contributes to disengagement as employees lose trust in the organization’s listening efforts,” Amanda Chaitnarine, director of HR diagnostics, advisory and data insights at McLean & Co., said in a statement. “It may seem daunting to address all pieces of employee feedback, so it’s important for organizations to remember that focusing efforts on executing fewer listening goals well is more impactful than spreading efforts over many goals.”

In answer, McLean offered four guidelines to approaching listening:

  1. Define the need and purpose. Why is the organization seeking input? Make sure it is connected to ongoing HR strategy.
  2. Complete an analysis. Ask employees how the current listening process feels.
  3. Prioritize listening goals and act as needed. Make adjustments to listening channels as needed, considering aspects like timing, frequency and what metrics will be in place.
  4. Communicate. Identify what managers might need to keep communication and listening going, including training.

Workers, generally, want organizations to respond to their concerns and feedback quickly and efficiently, an ADP report said in January 2023. To do so, employers need to be sure they have a proper framework in place to accept and act upon that feedback, the report similarly noted. 

Building trust with employees is key to overcoming culture challenges, experts told HR Dive — and listening is an important way to build that trust.