I think about this story I heard several years ago from a Director of Training a lot. She described a resident who lived at one of their communities for over 10 years. Quiet man. Nice man. The entire staff knew him and liked him. They had a great relationship. And then—he gave notice to vacate, seemingly out of the blue! The community manager called to inquire as to his reasoning, and he replied that he just couldn’t stand the kitchen faucet constantly dripping any more.

“How long has it been dripping?” the manager asked.

“Three years. I just can’t live with it any longer,” responded the resident.

The manager was understandably dumbstruck. She tried to explain that her team would be happy to fix the dripping faucet; in fact, they would fix it that day. But why hadn’t he let them know sooner? The resident responded that he hadn’t wanted to bother anyone, and no one had ever asked.

The Training Director used this real-life example as a part of her customer service training to not only reinforce the importance of always asking every resident they encounter, “How is everything in your home? Is there anything we can take care of for you?” but also the ongoing need to encourage participation in the resident surveys. She never wanted any resident to be able to say that “no one had ever asked” how things were going.

The same principle applies to employee feedback. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily tasks, especially when we’re in a constant state of “Pivot,” that we can forget to ask our team members, “How are you doing? Is there anything I can do to support your work?” Work life is busy, and it can be hard to make the time for checking in, especially if associates have given you no reason to be concerned. But as this scenario illustrates, just because they haven’t spoken up doesn’t necessarily mean everything is satisfactory.

What “dripping faucets” might your team members be struggling with that they haven’t spoken up about? The list of possible workplace frustrations is long. I hear of community team members who are driven to the edge by painfully slow internet, lack of access to critical software, unreliable suppliers, or unproductive co-workers whose performance has not been addressed by the supervisor. These workday obstacles, like most, could be resolved quickly and effectively…if the supervisor knew they existed, that is. But unless leaders take the time to ask, these issues will likely go unaddressed—and may just drive good people out the door.

This is one of the great benefits of utilizing a confidential employee survey program. Even when leaders and supervisors are too busy to ask, “How are you doing?”, team members have an outlet for sharing concerns. There’s no need for an associate to struggle in silence with an unresolved “dripping faucet” issue because no one ever asked how things are going. A confidential employee feedback system empowers team members to share their experiences regularly and gives supervisors an easy way to monitor satisfaction and adjust where needed. It’s like a supervisor’s secret weapon for bubbling up team member concerns, which is critically important to managing employee turnover.

Gathering employee feedback is always a solid business decision, even now during a pandemic. In fact, it’s probably the best time to solicit feedback because none of us has been through this kind of thing before. Your team members may have worries, stresses, and concerns they haven’t been comfortable socializing. Wouldn’t you like to know what’s on their mind? Furthermore, I’m confident your team members also have knowledge, ideas, suggestions, and solutions that can not only help your company pull through this challenging time but also thrive. They’d really like to share their ideas with you.

All you have to do is ask.

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