How feedback drives exceptional experiences across the employee lifecycle
September 30, 2021
With only a few months left of the year, I feel that designing long-range employee experience programs has been like a rollercoaster ride with too many unexpected and stomach-churning jolts. As a fellow people leader, perhaps you also feel the same.
In all my experience, I can confidently say that 2020 and 2021 have been two of the most challenging years for our profession. If you’re now grappling with The Great Resignation, know that many other people leaders are in the same position. According to our most recent New York Times and Momentive poll, 25% of workers say they are planning to look for a new job in the next six months.
Although nobody can know what curve balls 2022 might throw at us, I and the rest of the people leadership team at Momentive are quietly confident about the employee programs we’ve designed for the new year because we base all our decisions on employee feedback data. And we continuously monitor how well we’re doing by asking for employee feedback throughout the year, so that we can course correct and improve.
As we move into a new year, how can people leaders and managers continue to attract new talent when employees are leaving? And what can you do in this challenging environment to keep existing employees happy and engaged?
Use feedback to help you become an attractive employer brand
The most effective way to attract, engage, and retain talent is to use feedback to help you build a world-class employee experience for every stage of the employee journey—from the candidate’s interview process, to keeping them engaged as an employee, and finally, making them lifelong advocates upon offboarding.
While it’s not realistic to expect modern workers to stay with a single employer for life, you want all employees to have a sense of belonging while they’re at your company and build a positive connection with your employer brand—even when they transition out.
There are five stages to the employee lifecycle:
- Recruitment and hiring
- Learning and development
When you gather regular feedback at every stage, you paint a rich picture of how your candidates and employees feel about your company and its culture. With those insights, you’re able to not only improve the experience at each stage, but also create a consistent experience across the entire journey.
Let’s look at how employee feedback can help you drive exceptional experiences across each stage and some of the questions to ask to get you there.
Hiring and recruiting: Build a positive candidate experience
According to Glassdoor.com, nearly three in four of the users on its site read at least four reviews before forming an opinion of a company. Given that “Interviews” is one of a number of categories that candidates can read about an employer on Glassdoor, it’s important to pay attention to the candidate experience your brand delivers.
Once candidates have gone through the interview process, send them a survey and ask them about their recruiting experience with your company. Pro tip: Ask the same questions of candidates who were unsuccessful too for a well-rounded view of the candidate experience.
Some questions you could ask include:
- How clear were the interviewers in describing the role and associated responsibilities?
- How well did the interviewers allow you to highlight your strengths for this role?
- Do you feel you met with a diverse panel of interviewers?
There are many benefits to understanding how candidates felt about their experience with your company. You can use the insights to better align hiring programs and practices to drive successful talent acquisition and shorten the time to fill. And you’ll be in a better position to deliver a positive experience for all candidates, regardless of whether they were offered the position or not.
Employee onboarding: Prepare new hires for a long and productive tenure
Onboarding shouldn’t focus only on ensuring employees fill out paperwork promptly so they can get paid and that your company complies with various regulations. Onboarding programs should also be designed to ensure new hires understand your company’s mission and can quickly connect to your company values.
This is most effective when you also include the new hire’s direct manager and the people they will be working with in the onboarding process. For example, at Momentive, our onboarding programs extend to the first three months for almost all of our new hires. We provide guidelines and templates for both the new employee and their manager to guide them to a successful onboarding.
Introduce new hires to their new colleagues
Encourage managers to identify an onboarding buddy who can partner with the new hire during their first few weeks to help them get used to your processes and to be a guide to your company culture. At Momentive, we encourage managers to select a buddy who’s outside of the day-to-day team the employee will be working with. That way, the employee has an opportunity to learn about other teams and functional areas.
One onboarding activity that we always get positive feedback about is our Surveys Fundamentals program. We put our new hires into teams with other new employees and they get to use our audience panel to conduct market research. Each team presents their findings to their managers and colleagues at the end of their first week. We’ve seen some great research into topics like gaming, fitness, and vacations.
All these activities go a long way to ensuring employees get all the support they need to be successful in the new role and to quickly build a sense of belonging.
You may also consider differentiating onboarding programs for different roles and functions. For example, roles with the sales organization may need a longer onboarding program with activities focused on the first six months. This is because sales onboarding often includes initial product training, sales coaching, and a deep dive into the sales cycle and related processes.
Some questions you could ask during and after onboarding for all new employees include:
- Prior to your first day at work, did you feel you had received all the necessary information, such as the scheduling of the onboarding process?
- How clear did you find the information presented during onboarding?
- Should onboarding have been longer, shorter, or was it just about right?
When you gather employee feedback early and often throughout the onboarding stage, you not only get the benefit of course-correcting your onboarding programs for the new hires you’re gathering feedback from, you can also quickly improve the process for your next batch of new employees.
Learning and development: Grow and nurture your workforce
A full 86% of employees say job training is important to them—and 74% are willing to learn things outside of work hours to improve their job performance.
Whether you’re developing learning and development programs for new hires or tenured employees, it’s important to create them knowing what kinds of education your workforce wants that will both help them in their roles, as well as enrich their careers.
To help you assess learning and development needs, you could ask employees questions about how familiar they are about your company (especially if they’re in a customer-facing role) and your industry, or if there are aspects of their skills that they would like to enhance.
Some questions you could ask employees include:
- How familiar are you with our products?
- How familiar are you with [example: enter the name of a new industry regulation]?
- How successful do you feel with getting buy-in from the executive leadership team?
When you gather feedback from employees about their knowledge and skills levels, you can create impactful learning and development programs that are built and then updated based on valuable feedback. The result is a cycle of continuous feedback and refinement that ensures these initiatives are working as intended.
Retention: Grow and retain a happy workforce
At Momentive, retention and engagement is something we think about all the time. While all employees meet with their managers 1:1 on a weekly basis, we also provide employees with an opportunity to reflect on the prior quarter as part of the company’s quarterly GIG (Growth, Impact, Goals) conversations. These conversations enable employees and managers to align on what the employee enjoys most in their role, what impacts they made, and where they need support. This also helps managers have “re-recruitment” discussions with employees during the end of year reward conversations.
Re-recruitment helps managers and employees:
- Align on interest and needs
- Reinforce the employee’s ability to make an impact
- Highlight growth opportunities employees have in their role
- Share the manager’s enthusiasm for having the employee on the team
- Drive employee engagement and communicate rewards
We've learned a lot from our success recruiting talent and retaining our customers year over year. Re-recruitment is an opportunity to recreate those experiences for our employees, and help them get excited and reinvigorated about the year ahead.
Another way to increase retention is to foster belonging and inclusion. A majority (78%) of the 8,233 adults in the U.S. whom we asked in the spring of 2021 said it was important to them to work at an organization that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. More than half (53%) consider it to be 'very important' to them.
- I feel like I belong at my company.
- My voice is valued by the people I work with.
- I know what is expected of me to be successful in my job.
When you ask employees about how they’re feeling, you get powerful insights to strengthen your workplace culture. You can better create programs that demonstrate to employees that their voices are heard and your company’s actions are real.
Offboarding: Create a positive lasting impression of your company
Regrettable attrition can be a bitter pill to swallow, but you can turn it into an upside by asking and listening to why an employee decided to leave, and use the insights to drive positive change. Use feedback platforms to gather insights from transitioning employees and allow them to provide candid feedback through surveys or exit interviews with an HR representative.
As you gather feedback, make sure you package key insights so they can be shared with sensitivity among the appropriate audiences.
Some questions you could ask exiting employees include:
- What are your reasons for leaving this company?
- How much do you feel you were given the chance to grow your skillset?
- How much room for professional growth did you have at this company?
In addition to exit interviews, a thoughtful exit checklist along with future benefits coverage information can help employees feel supported—and leave a positive impression—as they transition out.
All's well that ends well
While an employee’s journey is full of learning and growth at your organization, the same is also true of your company’s journey as an employer. With that in mind, we’ve published a guide to help you understand what’s needed to deliver great experiences at each stage of the employee lifecycle. In it, you’ll discover how employers like Wellstar, an integrated healthcare system in the U.S., as well as my people leader colleagues at Momentive, use employee feedback to create world-class employee experiences. The guide also includes links to free employee survey templates that you can use in each stage of the employee journey. Download the guide today.
Janelle Lopez is vice president of people at Momentive.
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