Employee Surveys

Dos & don’ts for sharing negative employee feedback

Lydia Watson

CEO or intern, no-one’s the biggest fan of negative feedback. It can give you that ‘off to the headteacher’s office’ feeling – even if that’s so long ago that your own kids have since left school. Because we’re all human, after all. 

But when it comes to employee feedback, it’s not always going to be positive. And unlike a bad school report card, you can’t scrunch it up and hide it at the bottom of your rucksack. Instead, that’s the time to do what feels like the worst option: be transparent.

Employee survey results: why transparency matters

Why does transparency matter? The first reason is simple: your employees aren’t stupid. If they know for a fact that there’s an organisational issue, reporting that ‘all’s well’ won’t go down well. 

Research may support that: some studies claim the biggest predictor of employee happiness is transparent management – partly due to the way it makes them feel rejected, as another saw a 58% reduction in “perceived group standing”. 

When it comes to sharing employee surveys results, transparency is the biggest way to build trust – and since the importance of employee feedback is so high (the #1 way to improve your organisation) then that’s reason enough. Here’s some tips to follow:

When presenting employee survey results:

  • Don’t delay responding

You’re a busy person, but so are your employees. Responding swiftly after the survey closes will show them that their feedback is a priority. Send an email thanking everyone for their participation, and give the headline results: how many people took part, what the overall score was any immediate takeaways, and a promise to get in touch soon with your next steps.

Qlearsite advantage: Our tech helps you get insights quickly – so you  don’t leave the organisation hanging while interpreting the results

  • Don’t retract the worst bits

It might feel counterintuitive to shout about the fact you scored low for ‘Leadership’ or ‘Communication’, but what you’re doing is building trust. Acknowledging any areas for improvement is the first step to change, and your employees will recognise that. If it’s enough of a problem that it’s been flagged in your survey, then they already know about it.

Qlearsite advantage: We help you frame negative feedback as ‘opportunities for Improvement’, displaying them alongside your strengths

  • Don’t take it personally

It might be hard for you, your leadership team, or line managers to hear negative feedback. But it’s important you keep that to yourself. Even if it feels targeted, there’s nothing to gain from dwelling on that – and their employee experience should be viewed much more holistically. Take time to breathe, and reflect on what approach to take next.

Qlearsite advantage: Our Smart Reader pulls out the common topics with negative sentiment, so there’s no pouring through comments individually

  • Do give line managers warning

Before you send out the employee survey results to the wider organisation, give your line managers a heads-up. They’re the first point of contact for their teams, and you want them knowing the party line before they’re approached with questions. If you can find time to discuss their team’s specific results, even better.

Qlearsite advantage: With our dashboards, you can quickly hone in on different teams’ priorities and share overall scores with your managers too

  • Do remind them of the purpose

You didn’t send a survey for no reason (and if you did, you’ve made an error!). Reinforce the reasons why you surveyed in the first place, to remove any anxieties about the answers they gave. You wanted constructive feedback to improve your organisation – they gave it. Now it’s time to put it to good use.

Qlearsite advantage: Our templated communications make sure you remember to make the survey’s purpose clear, so they know feedback was welcome

  • Do share your next steps

Once you’ve had a chance to understand the ins-and-outs of your survey results – scores from different teams and demographics, the language insights that added context – then it’s time for a plan of action. You don’t need the answers straight away: it could be enough to explain that a taskforce has been set up, and a future update will be delivered by a specific date.

Qlearsite advantage: With action planning functionality and pre-written survey communications, you can quickly turn feedback into change

Want more advice about employee surveys? Talk to the team – they’re always ready to talk about best practice:

It’s time to start the conversation

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