When we think about business transformation, we often talk about strategic improvements. This means rethinking our external-facing communication and how we interact with customers. But one of the most powerful weapons for generating genuinely transformative change lies within our business and with our employees. In this article, we’ll look at how an integrated data approach is reshaping the way we think about employee performance, and how we can use feedback as a service within our organisations.
Watch Henrik’s talk on this topic at our Digital Connect 2021 event
Rethinking the employee journey
Analysing the customer journey is a critical part of building long term, sustainable growth. However, trying to perfect the ‘happy customer’ model is all impossible without first having a happy, productive workforce.
In a 2019 research paper, Krekel, Ward & De Neve analysed data from a number of Gallup studies, looking at possible links between employee wellbeing and productivity levels. It was a significant piece of academic research, gathering information from nearly 2 million employees in over 80,000 business units, from 230 organisations in 49 industries and 73 countries.
The team looked at four indicators of performance: Customer loyalty, employee productivity, business unit profitability, and staff turnover. They found that where employees were satisfied in their work, there was significantly lower staff turnover, and measurably higher profitability, employee productivity, and customer loyalty, with the latter being the most affected.
This research further established that there is a tangible business benefit in a happy workforce. It’s not just good practice from a moral perspective– it’s fundamental to driving future growth.
How do we achieve these high levels of satisfaction? We listen to (and act upon) feedback.
Why integrated feedback matters
While the face-to-face employee feedback session undoubtedly has benefits, it might not always be practical in large or geographically widespread organisations. There is an additional authenticity to remote responses and the possibility to retain anonymity. When anonymised we are more likely to give honest, objective feedback.
In-person feedback is also quite linear in nature – it’s one way, binary, top down traffic that doesn’t allow for nuance and complexity. By supplementing it with data gathered from multiple touch points, we can gain a more comprehensive 360-degree view of our employees and customers.
For example, the following information can help to provide a more detailed insight into an employee and their experience at work:
- Internet downloads, social media interactions
- Career progress and salary levels – have they increased?
- Sick days
- Re-posting of social media (SoMe) activities
- Online training and face-to-face education
At this point, the general survey question “How do you feel about your employer?” starts to take on real value because we’re able to benchmark it against other data. We can compare this data to other companies, or historical data and begin to extract actionable insights that will help us to improve the employee experience.
In the same way that we’ve become increasingly comfortable with technological solutions as alternatives to in-person meetings, so the tech stack holds the key to keeping our finger on the pulse of a company’s health and happiness.
Enter feedback as a service. In the same way that other SaaS solutions have liberated companies for unresponsive, legacy operations, moving employee experience feedback to the cloud has numerous advantages. It makes the process more agile and allows for easier integrations with other data sources. The key to feedback having tangible business benefits– rather than becoming just another data point– is when it’s seen in context.
By correlating employee feedback with other events, we no longer see satisfaction or achievement levels in isolation, but can link them in connect to other factors. Maybe there has been a personnel change, or a new board-level directive. What impact has this had on the mood of the workforce? Is it positive or negative? When we can see the big picture, and when that information is provided quickly and clearly, we can take strategic actions to respond. This allows us to potentially avoid problems before they even occur.
It all stacks up
Good technology does not exist in a vacuum– it’s an enabler, with its success being measured by outcomes. There’s always a cost/benefit equation, balancing capital outlay and the learning curve with financial benefits, whether they be in increased revenue or efficiency savings. For feedback as a service to have demonstrable value, it has to seamlessly integrate into the rest of a company’s tech stack. The feedback data needs to be gathered as intuitively and painlessly as possible, with minimal interruption to workflow. If it isn’t, the tool itself can become a cause of irritation.
In practical terms, this means that any solution should be visible only by the useful insights it provides.
When a solution like Netigate is incorporated into a company’s tech stack, it provides that missing link in the data ecosystem. With distributed streaming platforms like Kafka allowing for real time assimilation of massive– and massively varied– data streams, we can move from reactive to proactive. Rather than relying on manually assembled reports from analysts (which tell us what happened yesterday/last week/last month), we can get a much more up-to-date understanding of the state of mind of a workforce and plan accordingly.
The real world benefits of Netigate’s feedback solution
With Netigate, you can create reports, dashboards and view trends, thereby providing a more holistic understanding of an employee. This allows for an intuitive insight experience.
Gathering data is not valuable in and of itself. It needs to be analysed and put to use. We’re moving towards a future where we will be able to use the combination of separate data points to deliver predictions with ever greater precision. Even today, we can deliver benchmarking and trend lines in EX research, which provides practical, actionable insights.
These insights can have a dramatic real world effect on an organisation’s performance, delivering happy, high-performing individuals and teams. But where it becomes really exciting is with the introduction of machine learning and AI, allowing us to leverage this huge data pool to make highly accurate predictions as to cause and effect, making feedback an ever more significant strategic tool.
The human touch
Technology is a great enabler– but its success is defined by outcomes. To ensure that the technology is fit for purpose and correctly applied, there’s still a vital human role. Feedback projects need to be led by individuals who understand a company’s goals and ambitions and can fine tune a product or solution to guarantee the very best result. Integrating feedback as a service into a company’s workflow is about more than technical integrations– it’s about understanding a company’s operations at a granular level.
That’s why, at Netigate, we still believe in the role of the consultant. We partner with our clients to ensure that they can leverage the power of feedback in the best way possible, leading to happy employees, happy customers, and long-term sustainable growth.