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The price of ignoring employee feedback

By Nick Wilson | |6 minute read

Almost 70 per cent of employees don’t feel as engaged as they should be and lack a meaningful connection to their work. Research suggests that properly acting on employee feedback will help address the issue.

“Figuring out how to actually impact employee engagement is a huge priority because it has a significant impact on several key business outcomes,” said Keyia Burton, senior principal of advisory at Gartner.

In June 2023, Gartner published a survey on employee engagement that found employees who are energised and excited about their work are:

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  • Thirty-one per cent more likely to stay at their organisation.
  • Thirty-one per cent more likely to go above and beyond.
  • Likely to contribute 15 per cent more.

That same survey found that employee dissatisfaction with what happens after they provide feedback on their experience of their employer and workplace is one of the biggest contributors to disengagement.

This is significant considering that only one-third of employees believe their organisation will act on their feedback, and 46 per cent wish their organisation did more to address their feedback.

As noted by Ms Burton: “This perceived lack of action has created barriers that are preventing employees from connecting to and benefiting from engagement initiatives.”

According to Gartner, three issues need to be addressed in making organisations more receptive and proactive when it comes to handling employee feedback.

1. Solutions, not supplements

When acting on employee feedback, said Gartner, employees want solutions to existing issues, not opportunities to do more in terms of development opportunities. The survey found that employees want fixes to existing problems within the business that might be contributing to disengagement, rather than additional offerings.

At the core of finding these more targeted solutions, communication is key: “To increase engagement, HR should engage in active dialogue with employees to identify and reduce work friction – the things that make employees’ every day harder,” said Gartner.

2. Unsupported managers

Boosting employee engagement, said Gartner, has largely fallen under the umbrella of managerial responsibilities. Ten out of 12 actions designed to engage employees, said a recent Gartner survey, were made the duty of managers.

Concerningly, only 19 per cent of chief human resource officers (CHRO) believe their managers know how to act on engagement feedback. In Gartner’s opinion, the burden needs to be shared among staff, and human resources professionals, in particular, should be helping managers interpret and implement engagement data.

“When organisations are effective at supporting managers in engagement action planning, they can increase employee engagement by 51 per cent,” said Ms Burton.

3. Outside of HR, the problem is murky

According to Gartner, “‘engagement’ is an HR term that doesn’t resonate with employees”. This is partly why Gartner said 60 per cent of employees don’t understand what their organisation is currently doing to increase engagement.

Put simply, there’s a language barrier that is contributing to the misaligned goals of human resources professionals and employees.

“HR needs to use a common, shared language to measure and talk about people and experiences, rather than engagement, with employees,” said Gartner.

“When HR takes action to make their engagement initiatives more relevant so that employees understand what their organisation is doing to engage them, employee engagement increases by 49 per cent,” said Ms Burton.

To learn more about boosting employee engagement and why you should care, click here.

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Career development

A company's assistance to an individual's professional development, particularly when the employee moves to a new role or project within the business, is known as career development. The organization's HR business partners or managers, as well as HR services like learning and development, talent management, or recruiting, frequently support this through coaching, mentorship, skill development, networking, and career planning.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.