Gathering employee feedback is always a solid business decision, even now during a pandemic. In fact, now may be the ideal time to kick an initiative like an employee feedback program. I know, I know: with all the stress that you and your team members are under, why would you consider adding one more thing to your plates?
We asked Mary Gwyn, CPM, Chief Innovator of Apartment Dynamics in High Point, North Carolina, why implementing and employee feedback program like Ingage™ made sense for her company—even in the throes of the craziest year on record. Here’s what she told us:
“Much as I care about our team members, I can’t ask everyone how they’re doing, where we are increasing their stress, what’s going on in their lives, what we as a company can do to help. And even if I did, because of my role, many wouldn’t give me their honest feedback. I hate it, but it’s true.
That’s where Swift Bunny has been a game changer for us. We have been able to identify, take action and make improvement on the top areas that we were “underperforming” in our team’s perception. Different from surveys we’ve used in the past, we didn’t just receive a load of indigestible data. We were shown the areas where we have the most opportunity for improvement, presented with specific action items from which to choose, and then conducted a follow up survey to measure progress on that specific change. And we continue to strive for improvement.
But in the middle of a pandemic? Absolutely! This is a most critical and stressful time for our teams, and timely pulse checks and course corrections will be what helps us keep valued employees after this is over, rather than having them leave needlessly, or sometimes worse, be burned out and stay.”
Mary and the leadership team at Apartment Dynamics recognize the value in taking care of their people. Here are six of the benefits that an employee feedback initiative provides, in both good times and bad.
1) What Employees Like About You
Executive leaders have expressed to me countless times how surprised they were at the number of positive comments employees provided in various employee surveys. In my experience, this feedback is just as valuable as identifying challenges because it tells you what is working well—so you don’t screw it up! Knowing what employees appreciate about the company allows you to continue to support and foster those things and also promote those strengths to prospective employees. Know your strengths and flex them!
2) What Inhibits Employees from Doing their Best Work
Few people show up at work with the mindset of, “I’m going to be thoroughly mediocre today.” Most people intend on doing a good job, but often there are obstacles that make it difficult or even impossible to succeed. Sometimes they are willing to share their frustration with their supervisor, if asked, but often they don’t want to bother anyone…or be seen as a problem or a whistleblower. The option of a confidential survey, within an employee feedback system, provided by a third party, can provide a layer of comfort that allows employees to share more candidly. In addition, while one comment to one supervisor may trigger a little bit of conversation, several comments with a common theme can spark tangible change because the obstacle becomes quantifiable and measurable.
3) How to Solve a Problem
The vast and varied backgrounds of your employee pool provide a treasure trove of solutions and suggestions. A common “a-ha moment” I never tire of with executive leaders is their realization of how practical and creative their employees are. Those who are on the front lines of a challenge are very often the most knowledgeable in the best way to address it. But they are rarely asked for their knowledge and experience. Surveys are a great way to harvest concrete answers for concrete problems—and often employees’ proposed solutions cost significantly less in time, money, and resources than any a consultant may be tempted to throw at it.
4) What Our Patterns Are
The rental housing business is cyclical and becomes predictable to an extent. And, within those cycles, each property management company has its own reporting rhythms, turnover cycles, and engagement patterns. An employee feedback program reveals a company’s patterns, allowing leadership to have a better understanding of how to provide the best support, resources, or direction in the times they are most needed in order to become even more predictable and efficient.
5) What Matters Most
If you ask how things are going, you’re signaling that you intend to act on the information you receive. But that doesn’t mean you have to or are expected to act on EVERYTHING. In fact, the feedback process helps you prioritize what matters most to your unique set of employees so you can address those concerns that will have the greatest positive impact on the greatest number of team members.
6) How You Compare
In addition to understanding what is unique to your own team, being able to compare your results to the rest of the industry helps put things into perspective. Identifying your strengths that are head and shoulders above the industry helps identify a competitive advantage and discovering a significant shortfall can help rally the support needed among leadership to address it.
Gathering employee feedback is always a solid business decision, even now during a pandemic. It’s always the right time to capitalize on your strengths, identify your challenges, and leverage the expertise of your own team members. In fact, it’s probably the best time to solicit feedback because no one here has been through this kind of thing before. But I guarantee each of you has team members who have knowledge, ideas, suggestions, and solutions that can not only help your company pull through but thrive. Just ask Mary Gwyn.