5 Employee Feedback Stats That You Need to See

February 8, 2016

When it comes to feedback, we all want it, but none of us really want to hear it (at least when it's bad). But frankly, we all need it. It helps us improve more quickly and do our job better.

In fact, according to PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis—a number that increased to 72% for employees under age 30.

More than 75% of respondents believe that feedback is valuable. About 45% of respondents also value feedback from their peers and clients or customers, yet less than 30% said they receive it. WHAT?

Well, there are a lot of reasons employees might not be receiving the feedback they desperately need. Maybe we’re coddling the next generation of workers, perhaps it’s fear of confrontation, or perhaps it’s the grandaddy of all excuses…we’re too busy.

Unfortunately, while these excuses may be true, they are no less acceptable. Feedback is useful, feedback is actively and loudly desired and feedback has incredible impact on the workplace. In fact, the best companies have a feedback loop installed.

Still not sure? Take a look at these stats:

1. Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability.

According to the folks over at Gallup, people who know and use their strengths -- and the companies they work for -- tend to be better performers. In one study of 65,672 employees, Gallup found those who received strengths feedback had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than for employees who received no feedback (controlling for job type and tenure).

A study of 530 work units with productivity data found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback.

And in a study of 469 business units ranging from retail stores to large manufacturing facilities, Gallup found that units with managers who received strengths feedback showed 8.9% greater profitability post-intervention relative to units in which the manager received no feedback.

2. 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

HR Pundits (myself included) have long banged on about the importance of recognition, but this is a stat that really underscores the point. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?

While traditional managers might joke that “their paycheck is their recognition” in reality, that doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, Zenger and Folkman asserted that not only is positive feedback important, so is negative feedback. You know it’s true. feedback is valuable even when critical, especially when it’s delivered properly. Which brings me to my next statistic...

3. 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”

From Zenger and Folkman’s survey again, performance feedback is crucial to...wait for it...performance! In fact, only 8 people out of a hundred disagreed.

And if you’re one of those managers or even employees that really dislikes confrontation, well the news just gets worse. Turns out those who can’t dish it out, also can’t take it. It’s the confrontation itself that stresses them out.

That really makes a great case for companies to start a culture of feedback, early and often. Train your employees (and yourself!) on how to give and receive feedback. Your entire bottom line will thank you. Keep in mind though, negative and constructive feedback are not the same thing. There are essentially three types of feedback:

  • Positive reinforcement where you recognize good work.
  • Constructive feedback where you suggest improvement.
  • Negative feedback where you highlight behavior that cannot continue.

4. 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews.

What’s more is they feel this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job. This is how feedback fits into succession planning. Gen Y wants this feedback. Heck, maybe the workers in other generations want the same kind of feedback and have never had the temerity to ask for it.

So if annual reviews are a process everyone hates, then why are we doing them? Why can’t we do feedback in short, helpful bursts that allow everyone to improve (see stat above) by building up their confrontation skills and reducing the stress around annual (and some say ineffective) formal reviews.

5. 77% of HR execs believe performance reviews aren’t an accurate representation of employee performance.

Wait...what? Yes, the ubiquitous review. The bane of every manager’s holiday season...has been deemed by over three quarters of the profession to be pretty darn close to useless.

Why would I include this stat? Well, because feedback and performance review are nowhere nearly synonymous! Feedback creates a consistent communication loop between employees, each other and their managers. In fact, when done right, a culture of feedback can go up, down, sideways and interdepartmental, creating confrontation opportunities throughout the organization. And there is absolutely no reason not to employ feedback in your company.

How to implement feedback in your company

1. Practice confrontation opportunities when possible.

The best way to start this is through regular positive feedback. When you have regular feedback implemented in your organization (perhaps at a weekly meeting or via the company intranet, or even an email prompt on Fridays), begin the next phase of feedback, which is constructive. This is feedback that makes good work better. If you are a good manager, you are likely already doing this. If not, don’t worry, you can start right now. Use the patented OREO technique:

Tell the employee something you like about the project, offer up a couple of suggestions to make it even better and follow up with a compliment around something more personal, like their hard work on the project, or their dedication to getting it done even though the deadline got pushed up.

In this way, when it’s time to give negative feedback (the kind that tells an employee about unacceptable behavior), you have already built up a culture of feedback. They know to expect feedback on their work, both positive and constructive. Constructive is a touch confrontational but as you’ll recall, even critical feedback can be useful for performance when delivered properly. By practicing confrontation regularly in all its forms, you will naturally be able to deliver negative or critical feedback more easily than if you had not built your feedback culture.

2. Find a platform designed for “short-wave communication.”

While technology may make feedback easier to give (and get), it also can assist with today’s remote teams who have to learn to communicate at regular intervals, before performance management issues arrive. A poor performer or a bad co-worker relationship can really derail a mostly or entirely remote team if left until too late. Today’s performance management experts call this microfeedback or quick reviews and it means that you have a tech enabled feedback loop.

Originally pioneered by the UX community, HR practitioners and vendors have taken the microfeedback concept to heart and created tools and platforms to scale for the employer/employee relationship. Recognition tools and company intranets can also serve this purpose if configured correctly. Just remember that any performance data needed for actual reviews (that is, if you cannot get your company to get rid of them) needs to be tracked and filed...just in case.

3. Accept feedback.

Ugh. The third and final step in building a truly unique feedback culture is to accept feedback yourself. Whether you are the CEO of a small company reading this, or an HR manager hoping to whip his team into shape or a VP of accounting who wants more joy in her department...you need to learn to accept feedback.

Feedback culture starts with those at the top and it can’t always flow one way. If this has historically been the case, find a way to implement feedback you can handle, one suggestion at a time. Have an open meeting once a quarter, or try a virtual suggestion box. Implement a platform that allows employees to respond to your feedback with...feedback. And then take it, because let’s be honest...you’re not reading this article for nothing!

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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