Employees feedback described as “mediocre”

Roly Walter, Founder – Appraisd

Knowing if you are doing a good job and understanding where you can improve is how you learn and progress. Without relevant, timely and useful feedback, employees can feel like they are working in a vacuum, unsure if they are adding value or doing the right thing. Currently, with many employees working alone at home in their own little bubbles, this feedback becomes even more vital. Without it, it can be easy for them to become estranged from their objectives and detached from what the business is doing.

Our own research reveals that employees think there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the feedback that they are currently receiving. The 2,000 employees surveyed rated the quality of their feedback as only 6.32 out of 10. This is barely above average and shows that many employees do not feel what they are getting is as useful as it could be.

Delving further into the results, a third, 33%, rated their feedback at 5 out of 10 or less, and 14% rated it as only 3 out of 10 or less, showing there are a significant number of employees who are very dissatisfied with what they are receiving at work. 10% of those surveyed said they never receive any feedback at all, which means almost a quarter of the workforce are missing out on valuable guidance which could seriously hamper their career progression.

When we explored who was happy with the quality of feedback they were receiving, 9% rated theirs as 10 out of 10, with a further 7% giving theirs 9 out of 10. This means there are a few organisations which are excelling in this area, but most employees are missing out and this should be an area of concern from a significant number of employers.

All employees agree there is room for improvement

The survey showed that employees across the board are generally underwhelmed by their feedback. There was very little difference between the ratings given by male and female employees – men rated their feedback as 6.47 out of 10 and women, 6.2 out of 10. Given that the research highlighted that women are receiving significantly less feedback than men, it is perhaps surprising that both feel the quality of feedback could be improved.

There were also only minor variations between the different generations in the workplace. The oldest employees in the workforce, those aged 55 and above are the most dissatisfied with the feedback they are receiving. They rate it as only 6.15 out of 10 and 14% say they never receive any feedback at all.

The youngest members of the workforce, those under the age of 25, rated their feedback most highly with a score of 6.49 out of 10, but this is far from a ringing endorsement. These employees, just starting off their careers are the ones who could benefit most from useful feedback and it is worrying that they don’t feel what they are getting is generally of a high standard.

The survey results reveal that employers are generally under performing when it comes to feedback and it is an area that needs attention. This is especially relevant at time when a significant number of younger employees, those aged under 35, are reporting a lack of motivation, struggling with the constraints of the current challenging working environment.

From our survey, we know that employees want feedback. Only 9% said they would not like to work in an organisation that embraces a feedback culture, showing just how important it is to the majority of the workforce. Failing to provide employees with useful, relevant, and timely feedback is a failure that could be very costly for employers. Not only could it encourage dissatisfied employees to leave, looking for a more supportive environment, it could also mean they struggle to attract the best talent.

Our survey shows that employees value feedback, but what they really want is feedback that is useful. It is clear that a significant number of employees don’t feel this is what they are getting at the moment and they would like to see an improvement.

Over the years I’ve we work with hundreds of organisations to help them build an effective feedback culture, where everyone is keen to understand how they can improve. From my experience, the following initiatives can make a huge difference, helping employers provide their employees with what they need to grow and progress:

  • Build feedback into every process within your organisation. Take your recruitment process for example. Ensure that everyone involved in the process can give feedback and is encouraged to do so, on what worked well and what could be improved. Also, make sure all candidates, whether successful or unsuccessful, receive practical feedback on their performance that they can use at their next interview.
  • It can be difficult to know the best way to give feedback, particular if addressing something negative. Employees need support and guidelines to get it right. Provide practical training on how to both give and receive feedback, with examples that employees can follow and learn from.
  • Make feedback as timely as possible. Feedback is most useful when it refers to something that has just happened and is fresh in the memory. This will either help reinforce good practice or give the recipient an opportunity to amend their approach and not repeat an error.
  • Don’t give too much feedback at once. Work on the principle of “little and often”. This gives the recipient time to process and act upon it, rather than swamping them with too much information.
  • Following up on feedback is an important part of the process. It is not just about giving it but making sure the recipient has understood and acknowledged it, and if necessary, acted upon it.
  • Feedback should always be as constructive and positive as possible. Everyone makes mistakes and this should be accepted and acknowledged in any organisation. The important thing is to not point the finger of blame but learn from them and use them as opportunities to improve.

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