6 types of employee feedback every frontline organization should collect
Frontline employees across any company are aware of 100% of an organization’s front-line problems. That’s because they’re the ones who implement new strategies and processes from head office. They’re the ones who talk to customers on a daily basis. They’re a wealth of information—if you ask for it.
When properly collected and acted upon, employee feedback has a huge ROI:
- Employee feedback turns ineffective and time-wasting processes into seamless ones
- Employee feedback turns top customer complaints or requests into business opportunities that improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue
- Employee feedback turns disgruntled employees into highly engaged employees who consistently show up ready to perform
When it comes to gathering this upward feedback, there are so many different types you can collect to capture those elusive insights—and drive employee engagement. Here are six types of employee feedback your frontline organization should be collecting:
1. Employee experience feedback
According to Forbes, employee engagement is defined as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” To simplify that further, organizations can gauge engagement as whether or not employees show up to work and try. Employee engagement is driven by employee experience. And regardless of how engaged (or not) your front line employees are, it’s important to continuously collect feedback around the employee experience because:
- There’s always room for improvement, and
- Things change
Take the pandemic as a prime example of life and work never being constant. Things are bound to happen, whether it’s a global pandemic, or local policies that impact the workforce. Keeping a pulse on what your workforce feels about their experience at work ensures that you’re addressing engagement issues quickly, and keeping your workforce happy and productive.
2. Employee feedback on management
In corporate offices, it’s likely that you’re running skip-level meetings. However this practice is less common for the frontline workforce. That being said, organizations should give their employees opportunities to provide feedback on their manager to higher-ups. Why? As the old adage goes, people leave managers, not companies.
Remember the Iceberg of Ignorance? Only 9% of middle management and 4% of executives are aware of an organization’s problems. This includes bad supervisors. The best way to find out if your supervisors are fostering an engaging work environment is through offering your workers feedback channels to share concerns privately and without worry of ramifications.
One thing to note: when you ask for employee feedback, it’s important that you don’t frame it in a way that makes supervisors feel like their job is on the line. Instead, approach it as a way to collect feedback for the purpose of improving the workplace for everyone, supervisors included.
3. Workplace protocols and process-oriented feedback
You want your stores or locations to be as efficient as possible, right? While ideas and processes sound great on paper, they don’t always pan out in real life. That’s why it’s so important to collect feedback around protocols and processes from your employees.
A big piece of collecting this type of upward feedback is building psychological safety across your workforce so that they feel comfortable sharing their insights on what could make the company run smoother. Like with manager feedback, there can be a fear among frontline workers that their feedback will lead to repercussions. Fostering a feedback culture over time reiterates to your employees that they’re encouraged to safely share critical feedback.
As you collect this employee feedback, you’ll be able to update inefficient processes and put together best practices that you can roll out to new and existing employees. You’ll also be able to update your onboarding programs to ensure that all new hires are following the most up-to-date training.
4. Health and safety concerns
To talk about health and safety, we need to first talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, motivation comes from fulfilling five basic human needs:
- Physiological needs
- Love and belonging
Let’s focus on the second tier: safety. Safety is a basic need. It’s perfectly normal for employees to want to feel safe at their workplace. When feelings of safety are high, it increases overall employee engagement. Safety concerns can differ from industry to industry—and even from location to location. Safety concerns might include:
- Trepidation around ongoing cleaning/safety protocols
- Concerns around theft or violence (our recent research found that whopping 40% of retail and grocery associates are scared to go to work)
- Knowledge gap flags around using machinery or equipment
- Ideas on how to navigate natural disasters or other emergencies, especially in regions prone to hurricanes or tornadoes
- Burnout or mental health concerns
That’s why it’s important to collect health and safety concerns across all of your locations on a frequent basis. Another crucial piece of gathering health and safety feedback is to remain open and welcoming to any and all feedback—this is another type of feedback that requires a lot of psychological safety to ensure your workforce feels able to share their safety concerns without fear of repercussion. But it’s worth it: the sooner you get your staff feeling safe and confident, the faster they’ll be motivated to thrive.
5. Knowledge gaps
You’re likely introducing new products or services throughout the year. While your product team or buyers are very aware of what this new thing does, the same shouldn’t be assumed about your frontline workers.
As the face of the company, it’s important that this segment of your workforce is equipped with the knowledge and training to assist and advise customers. This is even more important in today’s omnichannel approach, especially in retail, foodservice and hospitality, where guests and customers are coming into locations armed with a lot of information.
Knowledge gaps can be identified and flagged in a number of ways, especially if you have the right frontline enablement tool in place. And as part of that strategy, asking your employees directly what information they need is also a great way to identify problem areas. After all, when your employees feel supported, and when they have the information needed to successfully serve customers, everyone wins.
6. Customer insights
Frontline employees have the most exposure to your customers. They’re the ones answering questions, listening to real-time feedback and seeing how customers or guests interact with your brand. This information is solid gold. This is the intel that can improve your CX and drive sales through better insight on:
- The products customers are looking for
- The processes or rules customers are frustrated with (i.e. hours of operation, return policies, etc)
- What customers love about your company and what excites them most about it
This type of employee feedback, more than any other type, requires a real-time approach. Here’s another place where a digital communication app can come in really handy—ideally employees can log feedback, customer insights, or other ideas right from their phones, as soon as they happen. If you ask them to hold on to these ideas until after their shift, they’ll likely forget—and in some cases, it might be too late to act on the feedback.
Frontline employees are the face of your company. As a result, it’s important that organizations make the time to listen to their employees and collect a wide range of feedback to improve your employee experience, workplace and customer/guest experience—and drive better business outcomes as a result.