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Feedback in the workplace
The term “feedback” is frequently utilized by mission controls to describe the signals sent back and forth between a space rocket and planet Earth. Feedback determines the accuracy of the rocket’s course and is used to make corrections and adjustments to keep it on the right path. The term has been integrated into business as a means to discuss performance and to keep employees on course.

It is important to keep in mind that feedback is not just a one way street. We must foster a work environment where employees are both open to receiving and giving feedback. The use of frequent and timely feedback alerts us to where we stand at any given moment and lets us know if we’re on the right track to achieving organizational goals. So, how do we envelop this concept and foster a feedback-friendly work environment? Read on for some simple tips.

Giving feedback            

One of the more commonly thought of places for giving employees feedback is the annual or semi-annual performance review. Although this process does provide one opportunity to engage employees and solicit their thoughts and ideas, it cannot be the only means to do so. After all, once or twice a year is just not enough. Instant feedback for a job well done or constructive criticism in areas needing improvement, and regularly scheduled touch-base points, are vital to keeping on track.

  • Immediate recognition: Catch people doing good things on the job and provide staff with immediate recognition for a job well done. A rewards program can be a great way to call out those who go the extra mile. For instance, you see a nurse go above the call of duty by checking another break room for a magazine requested by a patient. Immediate praise and a small token of thanks, such as a stress reliever or imprinted travel mug, can go a long way to recognize an outstanding employee.
  • Constructive criticism: Communicate negative feedback as soon as possible and in private. Be specific about what went wrong and how improvements can be made. Expand on how the negative behaviour effects everyone involved and be clear in your expectations going forward.
  • Touch-base meetings: Regularly scheduled, touch-base meetings provide the opportunity to cover things in between performance reviews. These one-on-ones can be a great forum to discuss goals, wins, concerns and expectations.

Getting feedback
Now that we’ve established some methods to give feedback, we need to get some in return. You may be wondering: How engaged is the staff? How satisfied are they working at this facility? What is the communication like between doctors, nurses and other staff? Does everyone feel they have the right tools to do their jobs? Do they feel secure in their jobs? Here are some ways to find out:

  • Surveys: One method of generating employee feedback is to conduct a survey. Allow time for staff to complete the survey on the clock and during non-peak hours. A baseline survey should be no longer than 15-20 questions and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. More frequent, shorter surveys can be conducted afterwards as a means to check-in. Encourage participation by offering contributors a small token of appreciation like a lanyard, pedometer or a bendy pen.
  • Suggestion box: A suggestion box or an online portal where employees can post comments and concerns can be a great way to generate feedback and get opinions that may not otherwise be shared. This lets employees know you’re interested in what they have to say and gives a sense of anonymity to those who may be shy or unwilling to share otherwise.
  • Share and share alike: Once a survey is complete or the suggestion box is emptied, share your findings—both the good and the bad. Foster an environment that values openness and honesty and while presenting the results, open up the conversation for additional feedback and clarifications.
  • Act: Why ask for feedback if you’re not going to do anything with it? The purpose of asking for employee input is to make organizational improvements and to assess what needs to be done to either get back on track or continue to follow the right course. Develop a plan that entails how you intend on doing this and share it with staff.

Feedback is vital to the health and well-being of your organization and without it you risk disengagement, lack of clarity and lost opportunity. It is imperative that you are not only giving feedback on a regular basis, but also that you are fostering a culture where it is safe and encouraged to give, too. Let your staff know you can walk the walk and talk the talk.

Feedback: Why It’s So Important For Keeping Employees on Course.TLNT. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

Hatter, Kathryn. “How to Give Feedback to Employees.EHow. Demand Media, 01 Aug. 2007. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

How to Get Feedback From Employees.Inc.com. N.p., 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

5 Tips to Get Great Feedback from Employees!FluidSurveys 5 Tips to Get Great Feedback from Employees Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

“Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Why Feedback Is so Important.” TLNT. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

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