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The ROI of Anonymous Employee Feedback

If you have a problem with turnover, your employees may be leaving because they don’t feel heard. Here’s a breakdown of the positive ROI on anonymous feedback.

If you have a problem with turnover, your employees may be leaving because they don’t feel heard.

A new report on “The State of Employee Feedback” finds that 41% of employees left a job in the past because they didn’t believe that their employer was listening to them, and an additional 18% have thought about leaving because of that reason. Employees want to feel engaged and productive, and that they’re contributing to their work culture. If they don’t, then they won’t stick around.

This means that your employee retention is directly related to how you conduct your feedback programs, and whether you’re actively asking for and appreciating it when employees speak up about their experiences.

Here’s how improving your employee feedback program can increase employee engagement, decrease turnover, and save on the bottom line. 

Where Feedback Programs Fail
You may already have a method for gathering feedback in place already. This could be through engagement surveys, or by having a digital or physical suggestion box available. It could also be through normalizing the giving and receiving of feedback at one-on-one manager meetings or staff meetings, or by encouraging employees to take advantage of an open door policy.

Whatever program you have in place, the intention of employee feedback is to gather information and insights into how engaged your employees are, any concerns they may have around workload or safety issues, and if they need to flag any wrongdoing like harassment or bullying. Any good leadership team wants to know these things: it gives insight into what’s going on in their culture, and lets them address issues before they lead to employees leaving or costly lawsuits.

But even if these programs are in place, many employees don’t feel safe giving feedback or they’re afraid of repercussions if they do. This is especially true when it comes to entry-level workers who feel they can’t take the risk to speak up because it’s either not their place or they don’t want to be ostracized, or workers from a minority group who have routinely been silenced in the past or not believed.

This type of hesitancy to speak can result in a drop in engagement. Engagement is what keeps people employees productive and wanting to come to work each day to do their best to contribute to a common goal. But why stick around if they don’t feel they’re fully part of the workplace? In fact, a Fast Company report found that 49% of employees say they’re not even asked for their ideas.

Losing employees is costly, and it not only impacts morale and productivity, but impacts the budget. According to SHRM, the cost of replacing one lost employee, including recruiting, hiring, and training, may be as high as six to nine months’ worth of that employee’s salary.

Additionally, high turnover may not allow you to attract high-quality talent. It can also affect morale around the workplace, and decrease productivity, which can also affect the bottom line.

If you’re like 87% of leaders who call improving employee retention a critical priority, you need to focus on creating ways for giving feedback that your employees will feel comfortable using and that they can trust. Since 74% of employees say that they’d be more inclined to give feedback if it was truly anonymous, that’s where to start.

The Benefits of Anonymous Feedback
Gallup notes that “Organizations have more success with engagement and improve business performance when they treat employees as stakeholders of their own future and the company’s future.” If you want to increase engagement and retention, and lower turnover and wasted productivity, the first step is to roll out a way for employees to give anonymous feedback. Here’s why:

More Feedback
Employers should always be interested in receiving feedback about their workplace, and should want that feedback to be often, insightful, and honest. If employees are more inclined to give feedback if it’s anonymous, this means an increase not only in the amount of feedback, but an increase in more honest, unedited feedback. It also means more employees feel like they’re participating in making their workplace better.

More Incentive to Give Feedback
Anonymous feedback lowers the barrier for employees who may fear retaliation for sharing, who have been shamed in the past or told they weren’t believed, and for those who are hesitant to share because of fear of repercussion. This could be many of your employees, as the EEOC reports that the number one reported workplace issue is retaliation. Lowering that barrier means more employees feeling safer to participate, and seeing that their company has their psychological safety in mind.

Increased Engagement and Retention
Any time employees feel like they’re contributing to their workplace culture or feel like they’re being heard boosts their engagement. And engagement is key for healthy teams, happy employees, and productive companies. Gallup also found that highly-engaged teams see a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 17% increase in productivity, and upwards of 59% less turnover.

Signals That You’re Listening
Providing multiple ways to give feedback, and especially providing one that’s anonymous, signals to employees that you’re listening to what they need and meeting them where they are. Our report found that 44% of employees said that by simply being asked to provide feedback, they felt their employer cared for them. Again, this is a way to increase engagement, which increases productivity and retention.

Multiple Returns on Investment
While it may not seem connected, investing in your employee feedback program and offering anonymous methods for delivering feedback can result in exponential returns when it comes to retaining top talent, increasing productivity, and keeping your employees eager to come to work each day.

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