Many employers try to establish themselves as a company with progressive ideas towards the culture they promote. Typically, they try to foster a sense of family, fun, commitment and transparency. With that said, many challenges persist in attaining honest employee feedback on their managers, peers and other aspects of the company due to being fearful of any repercussions that may follow their forthright evaluations.

By improving the employee feedback system, your company will help build its “Employer Brand” further, which will resuztlt in greater successes in recruitment, employee retainment, building a positive company culture and more.

How to Get Honest Feedback from Employees

What’s that saying?

“I’d rather hear it directly from the horse’s mouth?”

You can do all the research you want to figure out how to improve company culture, the recruiting process, retaining your best employees, fostering business growth and more; but the best source of information will come directly from the employees you oversee. (The research part is still important though!)


Because who’s in the trenches every day, eating, breathing and living within your business? The employees. Each day they are affected positively and/or negatively by the policies you’ve established, the interactions they have with their peers and managers, the benefits they’re enrolled in, how much they are paid and many other variables both internally and even in some cases, externally.

All these variables can directly impact your business in a very negative way if you’re not keeping tabs on the employee population. Their feedback is crucial in every facet of your business. So, let’s learn what the best ways to collect feedback looks like, and then figure out when the best times to acquire it from employees is.

How to Collect Employee Feedback

Collecting employee feedback doesn’t have to be hard. It’s about being transparent. Employees want to know the “what, why, who and how” before they give their thoughtful responses to questions asked by their leadership:

  • What is the reason for these questions?
  • Why do they need my responses?
  • Who will be reviewing my answers?
  • How are they going to use my feedback?

By clearly defining the objectives to your questions, employees will be more inclined to offer their truthful thoughts, feelings and observations in a constructive manner. This in turn will allow you to analyze the data and help you bridge positive change throughout your organization. The following tips will lead you down the right path to attaining positive employee feedback.


Ask the right questions

Too many times employees will see surveys that appear to have little thought or meaning behind them. There isn’t much background information other than “fill out this survey” to hold them over. Aside from giving the context of a survey, it’s important that you really define which questions you want as a part of it. There needs to be an established objective with questions that support getting impactful feedback from employees to improve numerous operations throughout.

Offer anonymous feedback opportunities [H3]

One of the easiest ways to obtain employee feedback is to offer anonymity to those who take part providing their comments. Employees will be more inclined to give their real and honest feedback if they know for sure there won’t be any repercussions for them based on what they share.  Some ways you can go about obtaining their feedback anonymously include:

  • Automated surveys from a cloud-based module
  • An online rating system
  • Manually collected from an office suggestion box
  • Hire a third-party service to conduct surveys

Be transparent

If you’re honest with your intentions, you will receive quality feedback from employees. Share with them the “why” of the survey’s importance and encourage them to really put some thought into their responses. By setting these expectations up with employees, they will feel empowered that their leadership is trying to improve various facets of the business, and that they are looking to them to follow the light.

When you receive feedback, make sure you/ leadership thank them for their time and do not be defensive from their remarks. If you constructively take their feedback and apply it, over time it will help create an environment where they will want to give feedback without you even asking for it.

When to Ask for Employee Feedback

Just like in every process, you will need to show some tactfulness when requesting employee feedback. There are a few different ways you can approach this process.

Obtain feedback before/after meetings

A great place to get the feedback you are looking for is before or after meetings. You can simply take a few minutes to discuss what the survey is about, why you need it, the importance, etc. From there, employees will be more willing to do so since they know the context and are being asked to do the survey right then-and-there. Group-think activities are more welcome to employees than just some random email showing up in their inbox asking them for their thoughts and feelings.

Attain feedback during performance reviews

The performance review process is the perfect time to get employee feedback. Aside from just going over goals, strengths and weaknesses; you can ask employees what their thoughts are on numerous items such as:

  • What they think about company culture
  • How their manager is doing
  • What they think about their benefit packages
  • Where they can see improvements in the company

As employees may be hesitant to give you the full picture due to being in a 1-on-1 for a performance review, you can offer them the option to be anonymous and give their feedback later.

Procure feedback moment-to-moment

All-in-all there really isn’t a wrong way to gather up employee feedback to help improve business strategy and operations. You can use meetings, performance reviews, off-the-cuff conversations, email surveys, a third-party and more. The biggest challenge is to just communicate the importance of why you need their feedback and how you’re going to use it.

Open and clear communication between leadership and employees promotes an atmosphere of inclusion and transparency.

Don’t forget to follow up

Once you receive your feedback to issues you want to address, always make sure to follow up with employees by thanking them for their time and comments. Also, make sure to announce to them any changes you make in how the business operates based on their feedback. They will be happy to know that they were heard, and positive change is taking place.

Obtaining employee feedback is a critical part of improving business operations. Not many companies take it seriously, but if you want to improve company culture and your employer brand to attract and retain top talent, you will need to do tasks like this to be successful.

**Ryan McCarty Director of HR | Arcoro**

Ryan McCarty serves as the Director of Human Resources for Arcoro (BirdDogHR, InfinityHR). He is responsible for all internal recruitment, employee onboarding and performance evaluations, benefits administration and company culture/employee engagement. Ryan joined the company in 2016. Ryan is a SHRM-Certified Professional and is a member of the Emerging Professionals Group in the CI-SHRM Chapter. Ryan is a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, IA and holds a double B.A. in Business Management and International Studies. He also holds an M.A. in Human Resource Management and International Relations from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD.

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