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Key takeaways:

  • Establish trust and transparency: Prioritize transparency, confidentiality, and open sharing of feedback results to build trust among employees and ensure they feel secure expressing their thoughts.
  • Utilize communication channels: Integrate feedback into daily operations and leverage technology to facilitate easy and frequent feedback exchanges among employees and managers.
  • Make feedback a cultural norm: Encourage open conversations and feedback between associates and executives to create a safe environment where sharing feedback is expected and leads to tangible outcomes.

Creating a company culture where employee feedback is welcomed and actively encouraged is critical for enhancing your employee experience (EX) strategy. 

During a recent Employee Experience Board leadership panel discussion on enhancing EX strategies through employee listening, our Board Members shared insights on how companies can cultivate trust and transparency enterprise-wide.

We’ll look at how you can build trust between associates and executives in your organization and use employee feedback to improve your workplace culture.

1. Establish Trust and Transparency to Encourage Employee Feedback

Trust forms the bedrock of any successful feedback culture. According to Dannielle Brown, Senior Vice President and Employee Experience Manager at M&T Bank, transparency must be ingrained in your core values, where confidentiality ensures employees feel secure in sharing their thoughts.

Dannielle discussed how M&T Bank has conducted engagement surveys for over 21 years, which has helped create a long-standing culture of soliciting feedback.

“It’s embedded into our culture,” Dannielle said. “One of the things we recently did is move to a continuous listening strategy. So we reach out three times a year at the same time each year, and it’s baked into our annual processes. So people are used to it and are encouraged to participate.”

She explained how their senior leadership team actively encourages participation, ensuring employees feel comfortable and their feedback remains confidential.

“We treat confidentiality as a priority here. People feel comfortable being open and honest.”

Dannielle Brown, M&T Bank

Dannielle also stated that they prioritize transparency by sharing both positive and negative results openly, which aids in fostering a culture of open communication and participation.

“We treat confidentiality as a priority here,” Dannielle added. “People feel comfortable being open and honest.”

2. Utilize Communication Channels in Your Daily Operations

Zoe Kasper, AVP of Employee Experience at Lincoln Financial Group, emphasized the importance of regular communication channels beyond formal surveys.

“Making feedback part of the culture, creating habits around sharing feedback — not just when there’s this big survey event but on a more regular basis — is critical.”

Zoe Kasper, Lincoln Financial Group

She advocated for integrating feedback into the daily fabric of your organization’s culture.

“Making feedback part of the culture, creating habits around sharing feedback — not just when there’s this big survey event but on a more regular basis — is critical,” Zoe said.

She also stressed the need for transparency in demonstrating how feedback ensures that employees see tangible actions resulting from their input to combat “inaction fatigue.”

Leveraging processes and technology to facilitate the collection and dissemination of feedback is essential, and Zoe noted that it’s vital to ensure your systems are user-friendly and accessible to all.

Utilizing platforms like town hall meetings, virtual video messages, or community live sessions helps bridge the gap between senior leadership and employees, making leaders more accessible and relatable.

3. Make Employee Feedback a Cultural Norm

Julie Flores, AVP of HR Communications and Employee Experience at Chubb, also stressed the importance of integrating feedback into your organizational culture.

She highlighted the value of open conversations and opportunities for feedback between associates and executives.

“Some companies may need to consider smaller scales,” Julie said. “It might be one-on-one conversations or focus groups. You may have to start a little smaller than a broad survey.”

Julie shared how candid conversations, such as one-on-one discussions or focus groups, can create valuable insights for EX initiatives, particularly from underrepresented groups that may be hesitant to share feedback through traditional channels.

“We found doing focus groups led by people who look and sound alike or have the same concerns allows them to open up much more.”

Dannielle Brown, M&T Bank

Dannielle also highlighted the success of using focus groups, particularly led by individuals with diverse backgrounds who share commonalities with minority groups, to foster candid discussions and gather detailed insights when survey participation is lacking.

“We found doing focus groups led by people who look and sound alike or have the same concerns allows them to open up much more,” Dannielle said.

4. Actionable Responses are Necessary for Encouraging More Employee Feedback

One recurring theme our Board Members discussed was the need for actionable responses to feedback.

According to Zoe, employees are more likely to provide feedback if their input leads to tangible outcomes.

“It’s not just feedback for the sake of feedback, but it’s in service of us achieving our strategic goals,” Zoe said.

As she suggested, creating action plans based on feedback demonstrates a commitment to addressing concerns and improving the employee experience.

“It’s not just feedback for the sake of feedback, but it’s in service of us achieving our strategic goals.”

Zoe Kasper, Lincoln Financial Group

Dannielle also emphasized the importance of regularly sharing survey results with the management team, ensuring alignment and understanding across all levels.

She stresses the need for transparency, especially in addressing areas for improvement, as it builds credibility and trust among employees.

5. Leadership Visibility and Engagement are Critical for Encouraging Employee Feedback

Leadership visibility and engagement are pivotal in fostering trust and credibility in your EX strategy.

Zoe discussed the importance of transparency and psychological safety in fostering trust between employees and senior leadership. She suggested that transparency should be ingrained in core values, making it an expectation at all levels.

She also advocates for creating an environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities and employees feel safe to share honest feedback without fear of retaliation.

“It’s managers and leadership sharing their mistakes and outcomes that help,” Zoe said. “Remove that idea that you can’t make mistakes. If this is a safe space, there’s no retaliation for sharing your honest feedback. I think it’s really about enabling managers because managers need to talk about the results they’re getting. They need to hold meetings to talk about the results of their feedback, both good and bad.”

Julie discussed the significance of company size in fostering trust between senior leaders and employees. She noted that in smaller companies, it’s easier for employees to trust leaders they see and interact with regularly, such as through stand-ups or town hall meetings.

Conversely, larger companies may struggle with this sense of connection, leading to perceptions of senior leaders being out of touch.

Julie suggested regular video messaging and other methods to increase visibility and relatability, such as shadowing employees or actively seeking feedback, to bridge this gap.

Dannielle shared insights on how M&T Bank fosters trust and transparency through a weekly event called Community Live. At this event, the bank’s CEO discusses various topics, making him more accessible to employees.

“Every other Tuesday morning, our CEO gets on and talks about something for 20 minutes, and anyone can dial in,” Dannielle said. That has made him more accessible as we’ve grown into a larger organization. He’ll talk about certain things, either a customer experience or an initiative we’re working on in the bank, and that’s helped.”

Learn How Your Peers Leading EX at Large Companies are Creating Effective Employee Feedback Initiatives

While maintaining a positive culture where employee feedback is encouraged may be challenging, you don’t have to do it alone. 

Employee Experience Board members meet weekly in our community to gain insights on the best practices for their strategies and get an exclusive look at how EX leaders at the world’s largest companies are moving the needle.

Learn how membership in the Employee Experience Board can give you actionable insights for creating a culture where feedback is encouraged.

Interested in learning more about membership?

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