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Report: Employees that don’t feel heard will leave

Written on May 6, 2022

Employers that act on employee feedback regularly are 11 times more likely to have high employee retention compared to employers that do not, according to a new report. 

The report by Perceptyx highlights a massive shift in how often employers survey their workers, driven in part by the pandemic. One study from 2014 cited by Perceptyx said that only 18% of employers surveyed workers more than once a year; as of the 2022 report, more than 60% said they survey their workforce at least quarterly. 

Industries that don’t take the time to do this may be suffering the consequences, Perceptyx noted. Healthcare and retail employers in the study listened less frequently across fewer channels and were slower to respond to feedback; notably, these industries have experienced high turnover and “intense” labor shortages since the pandemic began. 

The Perceptyx study defined four different types of organizational listeners, split by how often surveys are completed as well as who is expected to act on the results. These types include: 

  • Episodic listeners that collect data once or twice a year and keep that data stored in HR with limited sharing of results. 

  • Topical listeners that complete deep dive listening around certain topics or events, such as DEI or M&A activity. They encourage managers to take action, but most action is still centered in HR. 

  • Strategic listeners that gather feedback at key life cycle points, including hiring, onboarding, offboarding and promotion, and use analytics to understand the story the data is telling. Action can be taken at multiple points in the organization. 

  • Continuous conversationalists that use both active and passive listening tools — such as calendar analysis or crowdsourcing — at scale. Leadership at all levels are responsible for acting on that feedback. 

For employees to stick around, they have to feel heard, experts say. As for what that means, employers may have to directly ask their workers what it means for them to feel “heard.” One important way to build that trust is to communicate to workers how and why their suggestions will — or won’t — be used.  

Half of the respondents to a February 2021 report from Evive said HR did not check on them after an initial onboarding session, which can leave workers feeling adrift. 

The conversation on employee feedback is also reflected in ongoing debates about annual performance reviews. While the formal annual review is far from dead, the pandemic has pushed employers to prioritize continuous coaching and feedback, experts say. That feedback can live in tandem with a formal annual review, serving instead as more casual checkpoints that keep a team on the same page.