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How To Get Honest Employee Feedback

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 5 years ago
  • Author:by Bex Lee

It’s no secret that happy employees are more productive and having a good workplace culture improves well-being. Creating a culture where employees can give you honest feedback allows managers to be effective leaders and employees to feel involved, creating engagement and loyalty.

There are lots of interesting statistics around how employees really feel. A global study by Development Dimensions International revealed that 60% of employees surveyed said their boss had damaged their self-esteem.

And a Gallup study found that managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability after implementing feedback changes. But how do you know if your employees are genuinely happy?

Here’s a few tips on how to get honest employee feedback…

Do you have trust?

Having the trust of your employees is the first step to finding out how they truly feel. Employees will only be honest with you, if they trust you to begin with. You want people to feel comfortable sharing feedback and the best way to show your openness is by showing that you have previously implemented suggestions.

Once employees see that you listen to their comments and are willing to make changes, then they will be more likely to share how they really feel.


Pay attention to non-verbal behaviours. Are there particular business activities or situations that cause tension among your employees? Is there a particular department that is less communicative than the rest, or do you see the same employees working long hours consistently?

Feedback doesn’t have to be formal. Check-in on people regularly with a casual chat, a coffee or in social settings after work.


Communicate strategies and acknowledge issues with your employees. As a leader you need to be transparent about your own feelings around performance, culture and where you feel there are areas for improvement or some shortcomings.

Leading by example can be an effective form of encouragement. If people see you acknowledge issues that they also recognise, they are more likely to impart their own feelings or suggest ideas and solutions.

Their perspective

Think about why your employee should, or should want to, give you constructive feedback.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about their potential goals. Is it personal development, work-life balance or new opportunities? Are you meeting those needs? Are there any challenges your employees are facing or blockades in their way to achieving success?

And think about how they might like to be heard. Would they prefer an anonymous survey, or to submit ideas in email, or visually?


Not everyone will feel comfortable giving feedback, especially if it’s negative or about a sensitive issue. If you undertake feedback gathering, you will need to communicate to employees why you are doing it, what it entails and what the outcomes will be.

They need to know that there will be no repercussions for their opinions and reinforce that you also want to hear their ideas. To ensure honesty, allow anonymity with online surveys. These are easy to set up with tools such as Survey Monkey, or you could even go for a traditional suggestion box, placed in a communal area.

Ask the right questions

We don’t mean, ask the right questions to get the answers YOU WANT. You should ask the right questions to get the answers YOU NEED. Far too often when gathering feedback, the employer even subconsciously can manipulate the style of the question to influence the answer outcome.

To avoid this, ensure that both a senior and junior employee work on constructing the survey. Do not use questions with only YES or NO answers. Ask open questions that will make them think and then give people a space to add lots of comments.

Some good examples are:

  • What process can be fixed or improved?

  • What is the most meaningful part of your job?

  • When do you have the most fun at work?

  • Was there a recent team discussion or meeting where you did not get to share your thoughts? Tell us now…

  • Is there anything that causes you frustration?

  • How do you feel about the company culture?

Implement change

There’s no point gathering feedback, if you then choice to ignore it. Expect to receive a real mix of positive and negative feedback. Don’t take it personally and consider each opinion objectively. Look at whether there are particular patterns, obvious issues or underlying areas that need improvement. Identify what you can work on and own any mistakes.

Thank your employees for their feedback and communicate that you have listened intently and that you will implement change. Work with your senior leaders to outline an action plan with quick but achievable timeframes. As you make and achieve changes, inform employees and carefully monitor success rates.

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