Technology

How Feedback Apps Can Help Improve Employee Retention

By Anastasia Yaskevich

Jan. 24, 2017

Mobile feedback apps can offer different questions for every day of the week or month.

A Wall Street Journal article from 2011 touched on how dissatisfied employees, or as author Robert Sutton calls them, “bad apples,” can eventually influence revenue. Sutton shares a vivid example: After a disgruntled employee left the company, his colleagues’ productivity increased by 30 percent. In other words, while he alone was dissatisfied and remained with the company, the unit was short of its potential results. If the number of “bad apples” grew, so potentially could the losses.

First-hand opinion about what exactly frustrates employees helps companies take action and address the challenges. However, HR managers face many obstacles and inconveniences related to annual surveys and receiving truthful input.

Deloitte was one of the first consulting companies to point out that mobile technologies can help to overcome the challenges of both paper-based and electronic annual surveys.

Comparing annual surveys with mobile feedback apps generally considers three major factors: frequency, tolerance to inconveniences, and integration.

Even when planned in advance, an annual survey can catch any department in a state of distress. Answering, “What would make you feel more comfortable at the company” kind of questions would be the least of their worries when an important project approaches its deadline. The answers could be half-hearted and the results skewed.

Mood also plays a role. Any employee can happen to be in especially good or bad spirits on the annual survey day. Depending on their mood, employees could take out their frustrations with their answers without another chance to speak up until next year.

A mobile feedback app can contain different sets of several questions for every day of the week or month. After the chosen timespan is over, the questions repeat, forming a cycle.

By tapping into employees’ thoughts about the same issues all but once a year, HR managers can create continuous dynamic graphs. As Susan Peters, senior vice president of HR at General Electric, said, “The world isn’t really on an annual cycle any more.” Letting employees speak their minds is often crucial for recognizing problems at their beginning stages.

Just like people acquire habits, employees get used to inconveniences at work and don’t mention them in annual surveys. An employee who has to walk the stairs because of a broken elevator soon becomes resigned to the situation and doesn’t even acknowledge the inconvenience.

Such tolerance should be a concern to HR departments. Even when employees forget the details, they still have an overall negative feeling. This very feeling is what motivates employees to search for a new job and leave the company.

With regular response to a feedback app, HR leaders can promptly spot a decline in employee satisfaction and take immediate action. In case it’s impossible to relate the drop to a certain issue and set a high priority on solving it, the app could offer tuning of the next day’s questions to figure out the root of the problem.

Paper-based and electronic third-party surveys grow more separated from HRM software. With a mobile app, HR leaders have more freedom and can immediately monitor results. With hundreds of answers received daily or weekly, an analytical module is crucial for automated analysis and output of statistics that can be transformed into customized graphs and diagrams.

Apps can complement or extend an existing e-survey solution as well as get connected to any kind of engaging employee software. Integration with software similar to this kaizen app, for instance, will allow employees to not just passively answer questionnaires, but show initiative and suggest how the company can improve. A SharePoint-based intranet can be used to help employees track the progress of implementing improvements.

A mobile feedback app creates a dynamic and credible picture of employee satisfaction, which is helpful for HR departments in their everyday activities. Taking measures against inconveniences and not letting the related frustration leak outside of the company will allow HR experts to prove to employees that their opinions matter, as well as successfully attract new workforce.

Anastasia Yaskevich is an enterprise mobility researcher at ScienceSoft, a software development and consulting company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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