Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives
The importance of listening to employee feedback
Successful businesses know the importance of customer feedback. It can help to improve the quality of goods and services, open business development opportunities and ultimately grow profits. According to recent research, acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, andincreasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%. So it’s important you listen to customers’ positive and negative feedback to show you care about their opinions, to improve your offering and to keep them engaged.
The same is true of employees. In 2017, Employee Benefits News reported that hiring a replacement can cost employers 33% of the departing employee’s annual salary. Considering that Willis Tower Watson also found that one in three hires leave a company within two years, the cost of finding new recruits can quickly stack up, far exceeding the cost of retaining existing staff.
With this in mind, it is clearly important for businesses to ensure they keep talented employees. Not just for the financial savings made through hiring and training new workers, but also for creating a positive team dynamic and morale.
One of the best proven ways to do this is to listen carefully to your employees. Like customers, employees want to be heard, and listening to what they have to say is a great way to show you value their input and are prepared to make changes to improve their working life. This in turn can have the added benefit of making the company more attractive to future prospective candidates.
Employee feedback is especially important in times of change, such as we have experienced since the start of the pandemic last year. The situation is so dynamic, that employers can’t afford to just stick to the status quo either during or after the lockdown restrictions. The pandemic has changed the working world for good – and while there is a debate as to whether the long-term changes have been positive or negative, employers must constantly adapt regardless. Not everyone will feel the same way about new and emerging situations, so listening to employees and showing flexibility is crucial.
How to execute it successfully
Firstly, the employer needs to identify the problem that needs resolving and create opportunities to discuss these with staff. It may be via an anonymous survey or a focus group – or a combination of both. Either way, communication and transparency throughout is key.
Once the feedback has been collated and a full analysis conducted, employers might consider sharing the results with employees where appropriate to highlight the issues identified along with an outline of the suggested approach to resolve it and the reasons behind it. For example, this might be increasing flexible working or introducing a new reward and recognition scheme such as team days out to support group bonding. This approach will show employees that you have listened to their thoughts and responded accordingly.
Once you’ve then implemented the changes, it’s important to then assess the results a few months on. Employers might consider a further survey of staff to analyse how the new changes have been received and if they’re beneficial to both the business and employees. Adjustments can then subsequently be made.
A Virgin Incentives case study
During the pandemic, Virgin Incentives adopted this approach by listening to employee feedback and applying a test and learn process. The business introduced a new feedback platform, and our first survey reported an engagement score of just 54%.
We set about on an employee engagement transformation journey, aiming to increase the score to at least 70%. Employee feedback was crucial to this, and so we closed the business for a day and held an off-site workshop to discuss ideas around key business values. We also established quarterly pulse surveys to check our progress and ensured that results were communicated openly to the business.
Although a challenging period for the business, by listening our team, we recorded annual revenue growth of 40%, while also reducing employee turnover by 18.6%, and improving our engagement score to 73% – a huge 19% improvement in 12 months.
Our employee engagement reform focused on employee feedback and ultimately secured Virgin Experience Days the gold award at the UK Employee Experience Awards.