The Complete Guide to Employee Feedback Programs

Whistleblowing vs. Feedback

There is a misconception in the workplace surrounding the term whistleblower. Though it’s often associated with illegality and disloyalty, the intentions are broader. Without the help of whistleblowers, it is dicult for upper management to become aware of workplace violations.

Benefits of Honest Employee Feedback

In most cases, employees on the frontlines are closer to organizational challenges. They can provide an invaluable inside perspective on what works and what doesn't. Asking for feedback engages employees and, if carried out responsibly, shows that management cares about improving the workplace.

Confidential Program Types

A confidential employee feedback program is often executed using emails, in-person meetings, culture surveys, and more. For the benefit of reporting to the company’s leaders, employee responses are aggregated by team, location, job role, and/or manager, ostensibly to create some confidentiality for each individual employee.

Employee feedback programs address and prevent internal issues and protect your company’s reputation. To be effective, they require structure. They require an established set of rules and guidelines that ensure authentic, reliable feedback. But, these programs have inherent pros and cons. This guide will delve into the different types of programs and why you need to lean into anonymity.

What are Employee Feedback Programs?

At their core, employee feedback programs are simply a mechanism for employees to deliver information to decision-makers regarding their experience at work, which can be anything from relationships with coworkers and supervisors, to feedback on the direction of the company and leadership, to the workplace environment more broadly. There are four primary reasons to have an employee feedback program.

  1. Increase Employee Engagement and Productivity - Studies show that disengaged employees cost organizations between $450-550 billion every year. What's more, 69% of employees surveyed said they would work harder if companies would include more recognition. Understanding why employees are disengaged starts with giving them safe ways to speak up about the changes they would like to see.
  2. Employee Retention - Employees with lower engagement are twice as likely to quit the following year. With the cost of turnover as much as two times their annual salary, engagement is important to business operations as well as the bottom line.
  3. Risk Management - According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2019, employers paid out a record $68.2 million to those alleging sexual harassment violations alone. The risk of a public scandal is not just about dollars spent on legal action. It’s also about the irreversible damage to the company’s reputation, especially now, when companies are being held to higher standards than ever.
  4. Company Culture and Employment Brand - More companies are investing in continuous improvement in the company’s employment brand. Having a reputation as a great place to work yields better hires and improved succession planning and contributes to the items above.