How to obtain honest and valuable employee feedback

Offering a free meal to encourage conversation and build trust can improve the quality of your employee feedback.

Offering a free meal to encourage conversation and build trust can improve the quality of your employee feedback.

Regularly soliciting and genuinely considering employee feedback is essential to making staff members at all levels feel valued and heard. When encouraging this type of open dialog, it's important for employers to recognize that negative feedback is essential, and can sometimes be more constructive than positive feedback. In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Stash Tea Co. VP of Operations Patrick Proctor offered the following advice on obtaining the most useful feedback possible.

Be approachable.

"Have more than just an open-door policy," Proctor writes. "It's essential that you remind your employees that there are no wrong answers." Be gracious regarding the feedback you receive and appreciative of the employees who share their observations and/or recommendations. Do your best to perceive negative feedback as constructive rather than purely critical. 

Buy lunch.

Providing your people a free meal in a casual environment is a good way to stimulate conversation. Additionally, expressing interest in their lives outside of work (within reason) will communicate that you see your employees as individuals, rather than cogs in your company's infrastructure.

Care.

There's no getting around this one– sharing insight that falls on deaf ears is frustrating, and many employees who feeling they're doing so will refrain in the future. Genuine interest in what your workers have to say will encourage them to offer up honest, valuable information.

Ask questions.

You don't have to relegate yourself to the role of silent listener. Asking particular questions can help you get the information you really need to provide employees an encouraging and productive day-to-day experience at work. Questions might cover professional development (e.g. "Do you feel supported in your professional growth?"), an employee's current or projected loyalty to your organization and/or opinions regarding the efficacy and frequency of internal communications, to name a handful.

In addition to regularly obtaining employee feedback, utilizing the right HR software can add considerably your company's investment in its talent.