Use the wisdom of the workforce


People are people. When they come to work they don’t turn off their inherent need to talk, be listened to and have meaningful dialogue. They also want to be treated as human beings. Humanity at work is a growing movement, and is why Virgin is spearheading a movement for people to be treated 100% human in the workplace

But it’s not just about making people feel better. People have great ideas too. And lots of people have lots of great ideas. Ok, there may be some bad ones in there too, but we can guarantee lots of people will have lots more ideas than one manager alone. There is wisdom in the workforce and many companies struggle to tap into it.

Feedback is part of continuous improvement, and an organisation that doesn’t continuously evolve with the world around it, and the people who use it’s products and services, dies.


 So why isn’t feedback translating into improvements and growth for many businesses? Well, the road to feedback hell is often paved with good intentions. Businesses often fall into the trap of chasing the engagement unicorn, pushing for ever higher engagement scores.

But engagement is not an end state in itself of course. Where they work best,  engagement surveys should be just another way of moving to start a human conversation with people, and then together doing something as a result. It’s that simple. And it’s why many organisations are moving away from traditional models of employee engagement, to measuring employee experience and beyond.

Organisations often use employee or 360 feedback surveys in the hope that they have fulfilled people’s human need for meaningful dialogue. Well, we’re not convinced that works. We’ve never heard the comment ‘I just can’t wait for the next employee survey so I can have my say again this year’. At the end of the day people want to be treated like human beings and not endlessly surveyed. Many companies are stuck in this loop of measurement with no improvement.


What can businesses do? They should turn on their human technology. We all know survey and measurement technology has developed at scale, and quickly. There are some amazing ways now of collecting and analysing data. And if the purpose of collecting employee feedback is to diagnose and monitor then the whole thing can stop there and we can all go home. But it’s not, is it?

Everyone, from survey vendors to the HR community talk about making an impact and changing organisations for the better. But let’s be honest, it’s not happening much. Employee engagement scores stay fairly flat, businesses exist in changing market conditions, people join, people leave. Levels of business success continue to exist despite, and not in spite, of any employee survey results.

We think that can change. Businesses need to shift their sole focus from survey technology (which is so good it can run itself) to human technology and the process of really making a difference. And guess what? The process of making a difference is engaging in itself.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s about having a process for feedback. It’s about ensuring managers know how to talk to people as humans at work. It’s about tapping into that wisdom of the workforce for to make things better. See? Simple. But very few are doing it. The process itself exists outside the available survey technology today.

We have a compelling vision of the future. Just imagine a world where all managers are empowered to make a difference. A world where every manager knows how to get great ideas from their teams through following a simple process. Businesses where there are continuous feedback loops where everyone is talking and listening all the time. Where feedback is truly part of the culture. Where a survey of everyone once a year for feedback vanishes. Where organisations are ‘human first’ rather than tech-first, culture-first or anything else first. Just imagine. Together we can get better at feedback.

Sam Dawson