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By Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.

In recent months I’ve used this space to talk about the value of empathy, because lack of empathy from managers is one of the main reasons people leave their jobs. But in addition to empathy, what else helps people stay and be more productive? According to a recent survey of 2,000 employees conducted by OnePoll, feedback tops the list. In fact, American workers place a higher value on getting feedback about how they’re doing than getting an increase in pay.

Getting more money runs a close second, but it’s interesting to see what else appears among the top 10 answers. I’ve listed the top 10 here, along with the percentage of people who thought those factors were important in the manager-employee relationship. As you read them, take note of how many are related to feedback:

  • Feedback on their role: 53%
  • Money: 48%
  • Honest communication: 48%
  • Higher titles: 47%
  • Appreciation: 41%
  • Recognition: 41%
  • Frequent one-on-ones: 40%
  • Responsibilities: 38%
  • Transparency on company direction: 38%
  • Willingness to listen to their feedback/concerns: 21%

By definition, feedback is not advice, praise or evaluation, but rather information. Of course, positive or negative feedback can be perceived as praise or evaluation, but bottom line, at the heart of a desire for feedback is people wanting to feel assured that they are doing what’s expected. People want to know that their work brings value to the team.

This idea is supported by how many factors in the top 10 list are related to employees getting feedback. Did you notice that honest communications tied for second place? Employees also want transparency on company direction. In other words, they want to be informed as to how their doing and they want to be kept up to date on the organization’s goals, all in an authentic, straightforward manner.

Not only do employees want to receive feedback, the last item on the list indicates they also want to give it! Did you also notice that frequent one-on-ones is important to them? This indicates to me that employees prefer supervisors who see employees as individuals, not as cogs in the wheel. They also don’t want all this feedback dropped on them at team meetings.

Interestingly, the OnePoll survey also asked what employees dislike the most. Topping the list was pointless meetings (55%), and second was last-minute emergencies (47%). To avoid these buzzkills, managers do well to spend time planning and organizing. Thinking through projects and assignments minimizes the number of last-minute emergencies that crop up. And, as mentioned previously in this space, make sure all meetings have a clear purpose and an agenda. Curtail rabbit trail dialog so that meetings can wrap up quickly and team members can get back to work as soon as possible.

Looking over the above list, I think it’s fair to say supervisors and leaders having quality conversations with employees is key to keeping them around. This probably ought to be a major focus. With help wanted signs just about everywhere, it’s the employees who are in demand – not the employers.

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach him through his website, MyWorkplaceExcellence.com, or his office at 208-375-7606.

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