Do You Have an Employee Listening Strategy?

An employee sharing her concerns with her manager

Every organization faces unique challenges with employee engagement. Companies committed to their employee experience know that they are not getting the full picture if they just sit back and wait for feedback. Yet, many still rely on formal mechanisms, such as annual surveys and performance reviews, to get that valuable information. With the world changing fast, this traditional strategy isn’t enough. It’s time to adopt a more effective, continuous employee listening strategy so you can better understand your employee experience across the organization.

Without a solid employee listening strategy in place, leaders face two challenges: motivating employees to give feedback in the first place, and figuring out how to prioritize feedback and turn it into positive action for the company.

Overcoming Survey Fatigue—and Capturing Signals

One of the most common roadblocks to employee listening is low survey response rates. Either employees forget to take them, or they get overwhelmed and abandon them. One way to address this is to look to behavioral science. In 2010, the Behavioural Insights Team created a simple business model to encourage positive behaviors: the EAST framework, which makes a task Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely. 

Here’s how the EAST framework can be applied to employee surveys:

Easy. It shouldn’t take long for surveys to be completed, and they should be included in the normal flow of work. For example, include a feedback button seamlessly integrated into existing company systems, and ask for feedback through collaboration channels such as Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Attractive. Ask about topics employees really care about, with space provided for them to offer ideas about what really matters to them. It’s helpful to pepper in more open-ended questions rather than fixed responses.

Social. Instruct team leaders to promote participation, and allow employees to view, vote, and comment on each other’s ideas. Using integrated crowdsourcing tools will easily enable voting on team suggestions.

Timely.  Allow employees to share their thoughts at any time, and ask specific questions at relevant times throughout the year. Try implementing “always-on” feedback channels and event-driven feedback capture during peak moments in the employee lifecycle.

To get a truly comprehensive view of your employee experience, go beyond surveys and capture employee experience signals. Combining both direct and indirect signals will reveal the full picture of your employee experience when you need it most. 

While direct signals can include feedback surveys, your employees give indirect signals that often hide in plain sight. This includes PTO patterns, usage of systems and tools, and more. With the right platform, these insights can be captured in real time across the entire employee lifecycle and serve as an early warning system that enables your team to quickly identify and address potential problems.

Acting on employee feedback

Leaders in employee experience need a strong plan in place to act on the feedback they gather. Otherwise, they gradually lose employee trust and motivation, which can be hard to win back. Yet, gathering feedback can be complex without the right solution in place to conduct rich analysis and glean actionable insights. 

Here’s how to keep employee feedback analysis seamless and productive:

1. Use a single connected tech solution to generate insight & prioritize focus

How is your service center learning satisfaction translating into customer service? How does your employees’ sense of belonging differ across key diversity characteristics? To view automatically generated analysis like these, invest in an AI-powered insights platform. This will help you study emerging themes to understand future risk areas, such as:

  • Identifying the actionability of comments 
  • Indicating the highest areas of employee effort
  • Predicting the highest risk areas, such as teams more likely to have high turnover

2. Democratize access to insights to the right people, while maintaining confidentiality

It is possible to open up your data analysis to all those who will need it, which can drive shared accountability and ownership across teams. While strong data governance is imperative to maintain confidentiality and protect privacy, a well-defined set of rules and access rights can automate this to allow safe access in real time.

3. Make sure action planning is timely, and communications are regular and transparent

Check in with employees consistently and be clear about how you will use their feedback. Where relevant, involve them in designing the right solutions. Additionally, consider how often you share feedback on certain topics, as some may get too repetitive.

4. Monitor progress & impact

Empower team leaders to take continuous action and then record what they did. With the right platform and continuous monitoring, it is easy to track impact over time — and deploy targeted follow-up when needed.

Get the full picture with an effective employee listening strategy

The state of your employee experience should be monitored at all times — especially when your organization is going through difficult change. Employees understand when things aren’t rosy; they just appreciate being a part of the solution. With the right tools and strategy in place, you will not only gather their meaningful insights, but also maintain employee trust and engagement.


This blog was written in partnership with British-Dutch professional services network, KPMG International. To get a deeper dive, check out their blog series.