The Influence of Feedback in the Workplace

For most companies in the United States, annual performance reviews are still the norm. They assist organizations in determining compensation, employee development, promotions, and, in some cases, terminations. While many businesses feel annual reviews are necessary, they were never intended to replace on-going feedback, and studies show they leave a lot to be desired. Well, more than half of American workers feel that they are not receiving enough feedback and in this age of increasing turn-over, it’s easy to see the importance it holds.

Adequate and consistent feedback can make the difference between an empowered employee and a failing employee. When employees feel recognized they are more motivated to work, while employees that feel ignored are twice as likely to actively disengage at work. With all the evidence pointing to positive outcomes when consistent feedback is provided, it is a wonder that it still remains absent in most workplaces.

Research shows that most members of management are not actively avoiding giving feedback, though discomfort in providing feedback can be a factor. For most, it comes down to time. When your plate is full it is difficult to carve out time to provide personalized feedback, especially when the feedback is unpleasant or the work has been accomplished. But, studies reinforce its importance. When management puts focus on positive feedback, praising employees’ strengths and skills, they are thirty times more likely to be engaged at work. Engaged employees means increased job satisfaction and reduced turn-over.

Feedback can be challenging and sometimes unpleasant but it is none-the-less one of the most important aspects of a supervisor’s job. Not only can constructive feedback help an individual employee to succeed, but it can be key in creating a positive and productive work environment. According to multiple studies, employees who receive regular, positive and developmental feedback feel more valued, work harder, and in the end are able to assist management in keeping productivity up without great additional workload and time investment.

Traditionally we think of feedback as something akin to an annual review but it does not have to be so formal. Formal feedback can be helpful, particularly in the case of a new or struggling employee. Integrating weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, one-on-one conversations, a few moments to provide the employee with an opportunity to receive feedback and ask questions can make all the difference in the world. While this time can be difficult to set aside, studies show frequent informal feedback to be just as effective, if not more effective, than formal feedback.

From a ‘great job on that deliverable’ to a quick ‘say this, not that’, employees value daily feedback from their supervisor. Providing consistent check-ins and the occasional thank you help to foster an environment that encourages open communication and allows employees to see management as an advocate rather than an adversary. While it does not always feel natural to approach an employee with in the moment feedback, showing you are available strengthens open and transparent communication throughout the office and can help retain employees and increase worker satisfaction and retention.

Giving feedback may never be your favorite part of the job but it is a key aspect of effective management and provides an opportunity to help employees and your organization succeed. Frequent, constructive feedback creates not only creates an open channel of communication but leaves employees feeling recognized and respected. In the end, feedback allows you to create a productive and positive workplace, improving retention, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

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