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Why Employee Feedback is Your Ticket to Boosting Workplace Wellbeing

Every employee wants to know they’re doing a good job—and if they’re not, they at least want to know how they can improve. 

Without any recognition or constructive criticism, over 90% of workers become disengaged at work. However, nowadays, an annual employee performance review is not enough—instead, employee satisfaction and engagement hinge on regular feedback and recognition.

And at the same time, organizations rely on input from their workforces to keep a pulse on the work environment and company culture. Whether it’s through a formal survey or an honest conversation, these observations offer invaluable insights into daily operations, employee morale, and overall job satisfaction.

Let’s walk through the essential strategies organizations need to know about delivering and receiving effective employee feedback to propel team growth and cement a culture of continuous improvement.

Why Feedback and Employee Recognition Matter

Employee feedback and recognition are two essential components of a thriving workplace culture that go hand-in-hand. Often referred to as negative and positive feedback, these approaches allow leaders to guide workers in the right direction through constructive criticism and celebrate accomplishments and hard work.

Giving feedback in both ways provides an opportunity for professional growth while boosting morale and motivating everyone to strive for excellence. Meaningful suggestions or encouragement are also linked with employee engagement, as 80% of those who receive it are more likely to be engaged in their day-to-day tasks.

But on the other hand, feedback that only goes one way can lead to further disengagement. Employees are more receptive to constructive criticism when they’re also allowed to provide their input, whether it’s commenting on processes or offering up actionable insights and ideas. 

This two-way street of continuous feedback ensures that employees feel heard and valued while providing leaders with a clear understanding of how to align company goals with employee wellbeing.

How to Give Effective Employee Feedback

When it comes to giving feedback, many leaders and managers find it easy to recognize and celebrate accomplishments. 

However, the trouble comes with delivering constructive employee evaluations that highlight areas for improvement.

This dichotomy forms the basis of two critical approaches: reinforcing and redirecting.

Reinforcing vs. Redirecting

Reinforcing focuses on positive employee feedback—acknowledging and encouraging desired behaviors and outcomes. It’s about recognizing employees’ efforts, successes, and performance to reinforce those behaviors, thereby boosting morale and motivation.

Redirecting, on the other hand, is about guiding employees on how they can improve. It’s not about delivering “negative feedback,” so much as it’s about offering constructive criticism, actionable insights, and other ideas that can help an employee grow and overcome challenges.

This is often where managers struggle the most, often feeling unsure of how to approach the uncomfortable topic of performance management. Fortunately, honesty doesn’t have to be awkward. 

To help guide the feedback process, remember these key elements:

Be Sincere

Sincerity is the cornerstone of any honest conversation—whether you’re acknowledging a job well done or addressing areas for improvement. Being authentic and upfront is critical, as employees can tell when recognition is sincere and feel unsupported when commentary lacks substance. 

Genuine recognition resonates and fosters trust, while well-thought-out, constructive feedback builds a strong foundation for professional growth. Not only will sincerity add weight and impact to words, but it also strengthens the relationships leaders build with their team members.

Offer Specifics

Specific feedback is effective feedback. Steer clear of general comments like “good job” or “needs improvement,” as they fail to offer any actionable insights into what exactly employees can do to improve. 

Instead, focus on specific behaviors, instances, or actions employees demonstrate; explain why they stood out; and identify where there’s room for growth. For instance, pinpointing a repeated pattern that could be altered or optimized can help employees understand what they’re doing right or wrong and how they can do better.

Show Compassion

Leaders should always consider the employee experience and approach any conversation with empathy and compassion. That doesn’t mean sugarcoating negative feedback—instead, it’s about understanding the employee’s perspective, acknowledging their feelings, and framing comments in a way that supports their growth.

It’s important to remember that the goal of giving feedback is to motivate and uplift employees, not to criticize. By showing compassion, employees will not only be more receptive, but they’ll also feel valued as individuals and part of the team.

Provide Solutions

Constructive feedback requires some sort of solution or ideas for improvement. Rather than just pointing out what went wrong, managers should actively offer ideas on how to make things better next time. This could involve recommending resources for skill development, suggesting strategies to tackle similar challenges in the future, or scheduling regular follow-up meetings to discuss progress.

Providing solutions demonstrates an organization’s commitment to the growth of their workforce while turning feedback into a roadmap for success.

Listen in Return

Finally, it’s essential to remember that criticism goes both ways. As much as they speak, leaders should also listen to their employees, encouraging them to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas—whether during formal or informal feedback sessions.

Listening attentively can reveal underlying issues or opportunities for improvement that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Not only will everyone feel heard and valued at work, but organizations will gain new insights into different perspectives, challenges, and motivations. 

5 Examples of Delivering Effective Feedback

To help model how these conversations might go, we’ve developed a few examples of effective employee feedback that you can use as a starting point in your next meeting:

1. Highlighting a Specific Achievement

“During the quarterly project review, your analysis offered insights that were crucial to understanding our current market position. Your detailed approach to data interpretation, clear communication, and presentation skills helped the team make informed decisions. Great job! I really appreciate all the hard work you put into it.”

This positive example of employee feedback directly acknowledges the individual’s contributions to a significant project. By focusing on specific actions and results, the comments not only affirm but also reinforce the behaviors and efforts the manager wants to see continued.

2. Addressing Declining Performance

“I’ve noticed you’ve been missing a few deadlines, which has impacted customer satisfaction. Let’s talk about what’s been happening and work together on strategies to help manage your workload more effectively. How about we set up a weekly check-in to help adjust priorities?”

Here, the manager’s approach focuses on understanding and support rather than criticism. They acknowledge the issue and offer help, opening a dialogue for improvement and problem-solving. That way, the employee doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, but instead motivated to do better.

3. Offering Constructive Criticism

“Your presentation deck had excellent content, but I noticed that the delivery could use some work. Let’s set up some time to work on your audience engagement techniques. In the meantime, here are some resources on public speaking.”

In this constructive feedback example, the manager identifies a specific area for improvement while providing a pathway for growth. By pairing critique with actionable advice in this way, the manager makes it clear the goal is to help the employee develop professionally, not to penalize them for missing the mark.

4. Praising Team Collaboration

“Everyone’s collaboration on the recent campaign was exemplary! You all came together, using your diverse perspectives to your advantage to drive a cohesive, successful strategy. Let’s take some time in our next team meeting to go over this huge win, share our approaches, and learn from this experience.”

Recognizing collective efforts is also critical, as it emphasizes the value of teamwork and collaboration within the organization. This type of feedback can foster a sense of community and shared success, encouraging continued cooperation among team members.

5. Encouraging Continuous Development

“I’m impressed with your initiative to learn new software, which has already improved our project outputs. I’d like to continue supporting your growth in this area. Let’s identify a training course that can further develop your skills—are there specific areas you’re interested in to deepen your expertise?”

By commending an employee’s initiative to learn and improve their workflow, the manager promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Suggesting further development opportunities will also help the employee grow professionally while advancing the organization’s knowledge and skill base.

Feedback Is a Two-Way Street

It’s important to remember that feedback shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. It’s a dynamic process that involves giving and receiving input—and this open communication and reciprocity is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment.

That means it’s just as crucial for organizations to provide a space for and listen to employees’ comments and concerns.

However, fostering this open level of internal communication isn’t always easy, as not every employee will feel comfortable sharing their honest feedback—whether it’s fear of repercussions or the feeling that their concerns will not be taken seriously. It’s critical that organizations lay the groundwork for a culture of trust and transparency.

By encouraging an open dialogue and showing genuine interest in employees’ perspectives, leaders can break down barriers and build a more inclusive and supportive workplace.

Discover how we can help you foster an effective feedback culture today by reaching out to one of our Wellbeing Strategy Consultants.

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