IceHrm Looking for an HR software for Your Company?
Masha Masha is a content developer at IceHrm. You can contact her at masha[at]

Employee Feedback: 8 Strategies Unpacked

  Reading Time:

There are many ways to collect feedback from employees - from comprehensive, company-wide employee surveys to casual chats over coffee.

You've probably already collected employee feedback in one way or another, but perhaps you haven't done it consciously or intentionally or considered the pros and cons of each approach.

In this article, I draw on my own experiences working at various startups and Fortune 500 companies and share 8 of the most effective methods I've used to collect feedback over the years.

I'll briefly describe them, explain the advantages and disadvantages of each method, and rank some of the key features in comparison to each other.

NOTE: This article is NOT about giving feedback, when you give performance feedback to a member of your team. But we cover it here in: HOW to use these employee feedback methods.

What is employee feedback?

You probably already know this intuitively, but before we get into how to get employee feedback, let me explain my definition of employee feedback.

Employee feedback is information that one employee gives to another employee about the company and/or their particular experiences working at the company. This information may be thoughts, ideas, opinions or facts communicated verbally or non-verbally. The information can be in the form of positive, constructive or negative feedback.

There's a lot to consider with this definition, so let's break things down a bit.

  1. Employee feedback can be received by anyone: an employee or colleague, a friend on another team, the employee's manager, or another manager.
  2. The information can be about the company itself (e.g. "I think the town hall meetings are a great way to communicate") or about the specific experiences someone has had working at this company (e.g "I think it's great here and recommended my friend Beth to apply").
  3. You can include positive feedback (e.g. "I think the new product we launched is great!"), constructive feedback (with specific suggestions for improvement, e.g. "Our social media spend is too high, and I'll show you how we can reduce them") or collect negative feedback (e.g. "I really don't like Dave from accounting").

Why is employee feedback important?

If you're reading this, you probably don't need mountains of studies and statistics to convince yourself of the importance of employee feedback.

Feedback can have an enormous impact on and contribute to the overall success and well-being of a company and its employees :

Where to start with gathering employee feedback

There are many ways to get employee feedback, and it all starts with focusing on the question, problem, or challenge that you hope they can help you answer.

Once you've figured that out, you can determine who you'll get feedback from:

  • Individual team members (e.g. Jane from research and development or Bill from accounting);
  • Team (e.g. marketing department or a regional sales team);
  • Group (e.g. all director-level managers in the company); and or
  • Organization (e.g. the entire company).

Now you can consider the best way to collect feedback from your employees, although "best" can vary from person to person and from organization to organization. An example:

  • Small startups and early-stage companies with limited time and money may value quick and cost-effective methods of collecting feedback.
  • SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) may still be looking for cost-effective ways to collect feedback, but have resources for more structured methods and programs.
  • While large companies have many resources for collecting employee feedback, they struggle to obtain honest feedback and deal with larger teams/groups with diverse needs.

Eight effective ways to collect employee feedback

Employee feedback surveys

We've all heard of and probably taken part in an employee feedback survey.

I remember a company I worked for conducted an annual survey that took about 10-15 minutes to complete. Responses were anonymous and we had extremely high participation rates (more than 90%).

We found it extremely useful for collecting feedback and assessing employee sentiment on a variety of topics, including:

  • Overall employee experience and job satisfaction
  • Professional development and growth opportunities
  • Workplace culture and working environment
  • Engagement and motivation of employees
  • Compensation and reward programs

Benefits of employee feedback surveys

  • Anonymity: Unlike other forms of private feedback gathering, you have the option to anonymize employee responses to the survey. Assuming employees believe their responses are truly anonymous (a whole other topic), choosing this option can encourage a) higher engagement and b) more honest employee feedback.
  • Efficient implementation: An employee survey allows you to collect feedback from a larger group of people, from a single team to the entire organization. It is usually more time consuming to ask each person the same questions individually.
  • Structured format: Unlike a spontaneous conversation, you have time to determine what goal you want to achieve with your survey or what questions you want to answer. You will also have time to prepare your questions and be assured that they will be asked in exactly the same way to each person.
  • Quantitative results: An employee survey usually consists of a mix of free text (e.g. "Describe what you think about the CEO's dismissal"), multiple-choice questions and assessment questions (e.g. "How satisfied are you? Do you rate your salary on a scale of 1-10?"). The latter allow you to assign a number to employee feedback, allowing you to conduct quantitative analysis, e.g. B. determining the average of the group surveyed.
  • Organizational impact: If nine out of ten employees answer a question negatively (e.g. "How satisfied are you with our vacation request process?"), there's a good chance that responding to that feedback and making changes will have a broader impact on overall engagement and the motivation you will have in your company.

Disadvantages of employee feedback surveys

  • Anonymity: Anonymity can be a double-edged sword, and in the case of employee surveys, the downside is that no further individual follow-up discussions or clarifications are possible if you receive constructive or negative feedback. You may find yourself racking your brain wondering, “What should I do with this feedback?
  • Costly: Employee feedback surveys can be costly. Depending on how you conduct a survey, e.g.  with the help of employee survey tools, direct costs may arise. However, the greater costs often arise from the time required to create the survey itself, collect, tabulate and analyze the responses, and report the results. Before you start, estimate the total time and multiply it by the average wage to get a sense of the total opportunity cost.
  • Expectation management: When you send an employee survey to a group of people, you automatically set the expectation that you will respond to participants' feedback. Be prepared to share before and after how you will use the feedback to improve the workplace experience.

When it comes to surveys, you may want to consider conducting a large survey annually. However, many companies choose to conduct regular surveys to obtain feedback on business decisions or questions that arise from other forms of feedback.

For more information about employee surveys, see: Employee Surveys: A Simple Guide with Questions.

Intermediate level meetings

A skip-level meeting is a meeting between you and people who report to someone reporting to you.

The meeting "skips" one or more levels of management in a typical hierarchical organization to give you the opportunity to receive feedback from people who do not report directly to you and who you may not normally interact with.

If you e.g. For example, if you are the Chief Financial Officer and one of the people on your team is Jane, the head of finance, you would have a skip-level meeting with the people who report directly or indirectly to Jane (e.g. your controller, your loan officer, etc.).

Benefits of Skip Level Meetings

  • Honesty: A well-executed handover-level meeting can result in honest feedback about the leader (Jane in the example above), allowing for discussion and constructive feedback about the team's systems and processes. It can also create a sense of “safety in numbers,” where employees are more comfortable giving negative feedback if they know others feel the same way.
  • Impact on the team: You may have more ability or authority to effect positive change than someone reporting to you. Hearing constructive or negative feedback directly may allow you to act more quickly than if you let it come through someone else.
  • Engagement: It can be very motivating to feel that someone more senior than you cares enough about your opinion to talk to you face to face. I remember thinking it was pretty cool and exciting to sit in a group with the CEO of my previous company.

Disadvantages of Skip Level Meetings

  • Facilitating the meeting: The effectiveness of an in-person meeting depends heavily on your ability to lead and moderate it. You must be prepared for a variety of challenges that can impact the quality of feedback, such as: B. Bias in meetings, psychological phenomena such as groupthink, and the possibility that people who are uncomfortable speaking in public or sharing in a group may contribute.
  • Second-hand opinions: It is often more difficult for someone to hear feedback about themselves second-hand than directly from the person whose feedback it is. For example, Jane would probably prefer to receive feedback on how she runs meetings from her team rather than from you.

Individual discussions/performance appraisals

A face-to-face meeting (also known as a 1:1) is a face-to-face meeting between you and another person, often a direct report.

Formal performance reviews are by definition more formal than a standard 1:1 conversation, but the pros and cons are similar. The type of questions you ask may be a little more structured, but typically you expect the same types of feedback from your employee.


  • In-depth feedback: An effective one-on-one meeting gives you the time and space to discuss feedback in more depth than other methods such as surveys and face-to-face meetings. It's an opportunity to give feedback to your employee and ask for feedback, whether about you, the team or the workplace.
  • Less structured: 1:1 conversations allow you to ask more open-ended questions, such as: “How can I help you achieve your goals?” or “How does your new teammate integrate into the team?”. Your feedback may raise new questions you hadn't yet thought of.
  • Individual Impact: The collaborative nature of a 1:1 conversation allows you and your employee to determine what changes can be made based on the feedback that would have the most immediate impact on them. For example, if your employee is dissatisfied with their compensation, you are probably in the best position to respond and take action if necessary.


  • Honesty: Employees may feel uncomfortable giving you feedback about their experiences at work or about you personally. There can be many reasons for this, be it fear of reprisals or being perceived as a "whiner", or perhaps because they believe it will do no good.
  • One Voice: Remember that feedback in a 1:1 conversation is the perspective or opinion of one person. If the feedback is e.g. For example, when it relates to team or organizational systems or processes, it is important to check whether other people think the same way before taking action and making changes.
  • Rabbit holes: The less structured format of a 1:1 conversation can easily lead to getting lost in a series of questions or discussions that don't really help the employee or the company. This requires good facilitation skills to keep the conversation focused.

360 Degree Performance Appraisals

360 degree feedback, also known as multi-source or multi-rater feedback, refers to feedback about employee performance or observed behavior that comes from different sources, such as: from colleagues, managers, subordinates, and even customers.

I've had my own experiences with 360 feedback, and I found each experience positive (and challenging) in its own way.

A company I worked for has one Hired professional facilitator to conduct a 360-degree review process for the entire leadership team. They used very detailed forms to collect the feedback and then presented each person with their own comprehensive report. There was then a leadership team meeting where each of us presented our personal insights and discussed them with the group.

In another company, the process was more informal but aligned with the annual performance review process. The 360-degree feedback was collected by HR using a simple form. It was then left to the manager to review the key feedback and present it at the performance review, taking care to keep the sources anonymous.


  • Specific: This performance management mechanism, typically incorporated into formal performance reviews, allows you to obtain performance feedback specific to yourself. It's less about organizational systems and processes and more about your personal skills, effectiveness, leadership style, etc.
  • Anonymous: As with employee surveys, the feedback collected can remain anonymous, making your colleagues and subordinates more willing to give you honest feedback.
  • Organizational Impact: If you are a leader or senior management member in your company, performance feedback that leads to positive changes in the way you lead and manage can have a far-reaching impact.


  • Anonymous: Again, anonymous feedback does not allow for further individual discussion or clarification if you receive constructive or negative feedback.
  • Disempowering: If you feel like you have to make decisions based solely on feedback from others, you may feel like this is disempowering you and your ability to make decisions for your teams.
  • Cost: As with employee feedback surveys, the time and cost (if using an external consultant or moderator or if using 360-degree feedback software) can be higher than other forms of feedback collection.

Onboarding surveys

Onboarding surveys can take place at any time and more than once during the onboarding process. Onboarding is a phase of the employee lifecycle that is commonly defined as recruiting, hiring, and training employees.

Questions in an onboarding conversation could include:

  • "How exactly did the job advertisement describe the work you do?
  • “What additional information could we have provided about our company and/or the position to help you make an informed decision?
  • "How would you describe your first two weeks in the company?

Advantages and Disadvantages

The general advantages and disadvantages of job interviews are very similar to those of one-on-one interviews.

Onboarding interviews are best conducted by a human resources manager or professional, as they often oversee many aspects of the onboarding process.

However, if your company does not have a dedicated HR person, you should consider conducting the interview(s) yourself.

Exit interviews (offboarding)

Exit interviews are an important part of the offboarding phase of the employee lifecycle and can be used to collect valuable feedback on employee retention, workplace culture and job satisfaction.

We've all heard about the "big quit" that's happening in the workplace today, and exit interviews can provide valuable insight into why someone decides to leave your company.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Exit interviews have similar advantages and disadvantages to introductory interviews and 1:1 conversations.

However, you may receive more honest feedback from the employee, be it negative or constructive, because there is less fear of negative consequences.

To ensure greater honesty, it is recommended that the conversation be conducted by a neutral or objective person, e.g. from your HR manager or another manager.

Real/virtual suggestion boxes

Suggestion boxes may seem outdated, but they can still play an important role in demonstrating a company's commitment to employee experience and continuous improvement. Of course you can also contribute great ideas!

Suggestion boxes can also be modernized by using employee feedback software to provide your employees with an organized way to submit their feedback virtually.

Benefits of Suggestion Boxes

  • Easy way for employees to submit ideas anonymously or otherwise
  • Focuses on problem solving, not just the problems themselves
  • Encourages innovation and problem solving.

Disadvantages of suggestion boxes

  • It may take a while to review the suggestions
  • After the initial excitement, usage may decrease over time. Counteract this by prominently placing and acknowledging suggestions.

Casual conversations

The last, but no less effective, way to collect feedback is through informal conversations.

Meetings, whether skip-level meetings, 1:1s, or performance reviews, sometimes feel more formal and structured. This can impact employees' willingness to provide critical or constructive feedback.

Whether at the water cooler, on a sunny walk outside, over lunch, or over a cup of coffee, a casual conversation can help employees feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.

Don’t set out with the intention of getting (or giving) feedback. Just be prepared to be curious over a friendly sushi or cheeseburger, ask some general questions, and see where the conversation goes.

Opportunities to obtain employee feedback - assessed

Now that we've reviewed the most effective methods for collecting employee feedback and presented some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method, let's summarize the key differences between each method:

  • Reach: Is the method most effective for gathering feedback from one or more teams (including the entire organization) or from one or more individuals?
  • Cost: Is the method expensive, moderate or cheap in terms of both time and money?
  • Structure: Is the method more formal and structured or informal and casual?
  • Frequency: Is the method most effective when used frequently or only sometimes?
  • Honesty: Does the method typically provide more or less honesty than other methods?
  • Scope: Is the method most effective for obtaining general feedback on various aspects of the workplace or employee experiences, or more specific feedback on a particular topic?

Some final thoughts on employee feedback - an inclusive company culture

As with product management or improving customer experience, it's best to collect regular feedback using a variety of methods.

In this way, you compensate for the shortcomings of each of the methods described above and... more sushi!

Plus, nothing will alienate employees faster than asking for their time to provide feedback and then doing nothing with the results.

If you e.g. For example, if you feel like your employees aren't getting enough recognition, you should find ways to recognize those who are achieving results or living your company's values (here are a few fun examples). As simple as that.

To get the most open (and therefore useful) feedback possible, the gold standard is to create an inclusive company culture where all team members feel psychologically safe to contribute their ideas and opinions.

A great podcast to help you: How To Create An Org Built On Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (with Katie Zink of Social Construct Consulting)

Further reading to help you collect employee feedback and improve employee experiences:

  • 51 employee engagement surveys and best practices
  • How to attract and retain talent across the entire employee lifecycle
  • 5 strategies, methods and best practices for listening to employees
  • How to listen better, a look at the different levels of listening

Do you have your own views or opinions on the best ways to collect employee feedback? Leave your thoughts in the comments or join the discussion in the IceHrm, a community of HR and business leaders committed to building organizations of the future.

Build an inclusive culture with diverse feedback channels. Join the discussion on IceHrm for HR insights.

How To Run Quarterly Performance Reviews

Effective communication, change management, and training sessions are vital components of a successful transition, ensuring that both employees and managers understand the reasons for the change and are equipped with the necessary tools for a seamless transition....

Mastering Workplace Productivity: Essential Strategies and Tips

Discover practical strategies to boost workplace productivity effectively. Align goals, empower teams, and foster a culture of success....

IceHrm   Create your IceHrm, installation today.