1st August 2023

Creating an Employee Feedback Strategy: A Guide for Startups

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Startups can be high-pressured environments, often with world-changing missions that encourage employees to work tirelessly. It's no wonder that the average tenure at a rapidly expanding startup is only two years, which is several years less than the market average.

Employee turnover is not only expensive but also disruptive, especially in today's competitive talent market. To combat this, increasing tenure is a top priority for organisations of all sizes. A crucial step towards achieving this is listening to employee feedback and acting accordingly. In this article, we discuss how you can develop an employee feedback strategy that works.

Step 1: Decide what questions to ask.

It can be challenging to know which questions to ask, but at the heart of it, you want to know what’s working and what’s not. To start, we recommend using a straightforward approach with just three questions:

  1. On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [company name] as a place to work?
  2. What do you like about [company name]?
  3. What could be improved about working at [company name]?

The first question provides an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), which is a strong indicator of satisfaction and loyalty.

The remaining two questions provide insight into the “why” behind eNPS. We’ll tackle how the responses to these questions can deliver actionable insight later in the article.

For companies with 15 or more staff, it may be worthwhile to include a couple of segmentation questions, too. We suggest capturing team name and the length of time they’ve worked at your company.

The key is to create a survey that provides you with insight that can drive change. To monitor satisfaction over time, it's beneficial to keep some questions constant, such as eNPS.

Step 2: Collect honest feedback.

Humans have a natural tendency to try to fit in. And although this has helped to ensure our survival for millions of years, it can be a major barrier when it comes to collecting honest feedback.

If employees know that feedback can be traced back to them, their responses may be biased towards what they believe their managers want to hear. As a result, difficult but essential matters that could be hindering the growth of your business may be left out.

To help combat this, personal identifiers should be avoided, and staff need to be reassured that their feedback is anonymous. If the survey contains segmentation questions, such as team name, it's always important to provide a "prefer not to say" option. Partnering with an independent provider (such as New Possible!) to distribute and collate the survey results may also be worth considering.

Of course, developing a culture where everyone believes they can speak up, will also encourage honesty – not just across employee surveys, but in day-to-day communications, too. And that’s better for everyone. Google’s Project Aristotle found that psychological safety was the most important factor behind a team’s effectiveness.

Step 3: Avoid survey fatigue.

Rather than relying on an annual survey to gather employee feedback, we suggest checking in with your team every three months. This allows you to be more proactive in addressing any issues, which can be particularly valuable in workplaces with high employee turnover rates.

But how do you keep response rates high?

Survey fatigue can be a concern, but from our experience, the issue is overblown. Employees are keen to share their feedback if they know that you care enough to listen and act upon it. One way to show employees that their feedback is valued is by sharing the findings and any changes made in response to it. This communicates that your organisation is invested in its people and that their voices are being heard.

When designing surveys, it's important to keep them concise and purposeful. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "What can I do with this information?" This helps to eliminate unnecessary questions and keeps the survey shorter and less intimidating.

Step 4: Generate meaningful insight.

Congratulations on collecting your first employee feedback! The next step is to transform this into something useful.

We’ll start by examining the responses to eNPS: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [company name] as a place to work?”

Depending on how this question is scored, group individual responses into the following categories:

  • 9-10 – Promoters: Happy and motivated
  • 7-8 – Passive: Mostly happy, but not passionate enough to recommend
  • 0-6 – Detractors: Dissatisfied and wouldn’t recommend

These categorizations will be used alongside responses to the second and third questions (see Step 1) to identify what matters most to your employees:

For promoters, what do they like about working at your company? Some common themes should stand out. These are the key drivers that are helping to make your organisation an employer of choice, so make sure to celebrate and nurture them.

For detractors, what would they like to improve? Feedback should reveal opportunities where you can have a material effect on employee retention and acquisition. Some may even be quick wins, that can provide almost immediate results.

Once you've completed your first survey, the findings can guide you in creating questions that are more specific to your business and allow you to explore key themes in greater depth.

New Possible can automate the above process for you and deliver benchmarkable insight across a range of themes, including satisfaction, wellbeing, and culture.

Key Takeaways

Although it may be challenging to initiate employee feedback, don't let it discourage you from starting the process. By starting with a simple approach, such as the one mentioned above, startups can access a wealth of knowledge that can be used to enhance employee engagement. And numerous studies have shown that this can be incredibly beneficial to revenue growth and ultimately profit. This also translates to spending less time replacing talent and more time building a thriving business environment that both employees and customers really love.

New Possible is the employee insight platform that's helping leaders build healthier businesses. Find out more about our mission or book a demo.

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