Bill Gates himself said that “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” and there’s so much truth in that statement. Employee feedback helps us grow and develop in our professional ones. Without feedback, if you don't preach employee appreciation, it’s impossible to know how you can improve, where you are going wrong in employee's eye, and how effective your efforts are.
Giving feedback to your employees can help you lower your employee turnover rates. Also, this simple action can help you reduce the cost of employee disengagement. Giving positive feedback to your employees is perceived as a clear sign of a healthy employee experience.
Not only are employee incentive programs necessary to increase employee engagement; giving feedback to your employees is also a crucial part of it.
Some managers don't offer positive feedback because:
- They don't think it's needed.
- They think employees might start to relax and perform weaker if they think they're doing well.
- They believe that constructive criticism is an effective form of feedback.
- They don't know how to give positive feedback or don't feel comfortable with it.
Tips to Positive Employee Feedback [+ Best Examples]
In reality, positive feedback can have fruitful effects. A Gallup study involving over 65,000 employees showed that those who received effective feedback had lower turnover rates than those who didn't. Gallup studies have also shown that managers who received feedback show close to 9% better profitability.
Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between effective positive feedback and ineffective positive feedback. Let's take a look at some ways to give feedback better, complete with some positive feedback examples.
1. Become Thorough And Specific with Employees Feedback
Gallup found that 67% of employees felt 'fully engaged' with their work after receiving positive feedback from management, but that feedback must be detailed for it to become effective. As stated earlier, when it comes to positive feedback, those tired, cliché, throwaway phrases like “Great job!” lack effectiveness.
When you want to provide effective positive feedback, you must become specific and explain why. Now, it’s important not to take this the wrong way. Employers must not give long speeches and presentations when trying to compliment or laud the efforts and accomplishments of their team. Instead, they should become more specific than offering a vague phrase of praise.
Positive feedback requires detail and precision. It’s all about praising the worker for something they’ve done and highlighting achievement. It’s important because by providing positive feedback and more details to your employees about why you're impressed with their work, you give them a foundation on which to grow, improve, and repeat those same actions again.
For an example of this, let’s imagine that a worker has been successful heading up a project. Simply saying "Nice job on the project" is vague and has no real meaning behind it, but taking the time to highlight what the person did that pleases you is much more effective.
For instance, in this case, something along the lines of "I noticed how you took the time to research the necessary information for this project, presenting it an easy-to-follow format and taking the time to include some alternate suggestions. That's useful."
This example cuts out the vague 'fake feedback' terms and gets to the heart of the matter. It is clear and evident to the worker that you were impressed with their efforts. Pointing out what you liked about their work will encourage them to replicate that same behavior going forwards.
- Vague or ‘fake’ feedback like “Good job” is ineffective.
- Provide detailed and in-depth feedback.
- Take the time to highlight key aspects of your employees’ work.
2. Get Personal
In the past, employers had a worrying tendency of seeing their workers as little more than drones and robots, all turning up, performing their duties, and heading out the doors. These employees are often heading home to deal with personal problems and responsibilities that their employers can help with.
Fortunately, times have changed. With a better understanding of the importance of individuality and the ways in which workers like to feel valued and heard, more employers listen to their employees. This is backed by hard evidence too. Studies show that employee engagement and positive workplace cultures grow much faster and have lower turnover rates.
Getting to know your employees as real people and valuing their individuality can pay off in a big way. Zappos states that using the '80/20' rule, in which 20% of your time with employees is spent getting to know them and learning more about their lives, can help to enhance your working relationships and improve workplace culture and moral.
By getting to know individual workers on a more personal level, learning about their likes and dislikes and engaging with their personalities, you can provide stronger and more positive feedback overall. If you learn that a worker has a certain hobby or favorite sports team, for example, you can bring it up in discussions to create a stronger bond.
- Engaging with employees and learning more about them is a way to get engaged and create a positive workplace culture.
- Employees may have personal issues that you can help with.
- Personal feedback helps every individual feel more valued.
3. Timely Employment Feedback Is Most Effective
One of the golden rules of feedback is that employers should deliver it in a timely manner, and this is true throughout life. If we imagine a child at school is getting something wrong, for example, a teacher or parent won’t wait a few weeks before letting them know. They’ll deliver the necessary feedback right away in order to help the child learn and develop from their actions.
The same holds true for both negative and positive behavior, actions and achievements in the workplace. Employers must provide the employee performance feedback to help employee development at an appropriate and relevant time. Office vibe statistics support this claim, with four out of 10 workers saying they feel disengaged when they aren't getting any feedback.
The faster you provide employees positive feedback, the better. Why? Because it’s in the immediate period after an achievement and accomplishment that workers will respond most positively and productively to praise. A PWC study revealed that 60% of employees would enjoy hearing feedback on a daily or weekly basis, with 72% of young employees saying they'd enjoy more regular feedback.
This method is self-explanatory, so doesn’t need a in-depth example as a means of explanation. Let’s say that a worker has been excelling on a particular project at a key moment for the company.
Rather than waiting around to an end of term review, it’s vital to provide positive feedback to that person as soon as you notice the great work they’ve been doing. Don’t wait around too long; as soon as you get a chance to let them know, take it.
- Employees should get back feedback on regular basis.
- Feedback becomes less effective the longer you wait.
- Provide on-the-spot feedback, rather than monthly/weekly reviews.
4. The Importance Of Delivery
Imagine someone saying "Great job" in a monotonous, tired voice without any expression whatsoever. Now imagine them saying it with enthusiasm and flair. The second example is much more effective, and this is a simple portrayal of how the way in which we deliver employees feedback is just as important as the feedback itself.
Research shows that employees respond better to empathetic and approachable management. You could take two different employers with different speaking voices and mannerisms and have them deliver the same exact feedback to an employee. The employee will react differently, based on how the feedback is delivered.
This is why, even if you’re not much of a public speaker, taking the time to smile, speak in an approachable manner can increase your turnover rate.
It's just important how you're approaching the person and how you're speaking to them. You, as an employer, can say anything like: "I liked your work on the latest project" to "I admired the way you welcomed our new recruit", but you always need to deliver it in a positive way.
This means following standard business practices of maintaining eye contact, smiling at your worker to indicate your positive attitude, and not using an intimidating tone of voice that might make them worry about you saying something negative. As explained by leading business and happiness expert Emma Seppälä, a simple smile and some facial expressions can go a long way towards making your words have an even bigger impact.
- Positive feedback is much more effective when delivered in a proper way.
- A simple smile can go a long way.
- Never underestimate the importance of body language.
Interested in learning more about effective employee feedback to upskill your knowledge? Check out our HR Certification Courses to excel in your career.
5. Gestures and Rewards
Getting rewarded for doing a great job, employees will always become happy to know and learn that they’ve impressed their employers and colleagues. Words are very powerful and effective at helping people to grow and develop. But to paraphrase the old saying: actions speak even louder.
The best positive employee feedback examples for colleague development will include constructive feedback and praise, as well as some kind of reward to amplify that praise. Of course, balancing is vital when handing out rewards of any kind, as you don’t want to get employees into the habit of expecting something every time they perform well.
However, in special cases, which you can judge or deem worthy by yourself, a simple gesture of grabbing a cup of coffee with the worker or buying a box of donuts to share around the office after a successful project is an effective way of showing employees how much you care and encouraging them all to work harder. An Attacoin study has shown that 88% of workers feel that rewards are important. Thus make sure to have feedback conversations with your team, so this way you can expect positive feedback loop from your entire team.
There are many different situations when you might want to provide positive feedback. The most common constructive employee feedback examples are when an employee has met or exceeded their goals, overcome an obstacle, or gone the extra mile in their work. It's also good to reward initiative, acts of good behavior, or even little things that are worthy of recognition in the context.
Rewards and gestures come handy in any of these situations. For example, an employee found themselves in a situation where they were able to use their own initiative to solve a problem, saving the company a lot of resources. You could say "I noticed how you saw a mistake on that invoice and took action, calling the suppliers and getting the error fixed. You saved us all a lot of hassle." This way you can not just reward employees but also put in extra effort to encourage them for productive future projects.
From there, as a sign of recognition of the employee’s hard work, you could invite them to take a short break. If you have a personal and professional relationship with the employee and feel that this is appropriate, ask them to grab a cup of coffee for you to have a chat. Or you could just remember their act and offer to help them with something else they need.
- Studies show that a large number of workers believe in the importance of rewards.
- Simple gestures and acts of kindness can go a long way.
- Employers should become careful not to go too far with rewards.
6. Keep Employment Performance Feedback 100% Positive
Employers have a tendency to want to push for perfection, hoping to attain the unattainable. They are always in search for areas of improvement, changes that they can make, ways in which they can enhance systems and productions to provide more productivity and better results. In short, employers are always looking for flaws and problems that need solving.
However, when it comes to the people, your workers, you shouldn’t take this approach. Positive feedback should be just that: positive. Some employers have a habit of using positive feedback moments as opportunities to slip in some negative behaviors, comments or criticisms, hoping that their positivity will help to offset the negative side of their comments.
If you always frame your positive feedback with a “But…” at the end of it and have the habit of balancing out your positives with negatives, employees will start to fear your feedback. Research undertaken by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School has shown that employees have a tendency to strengthen bonds with those who act positive towards them, while fearing and disengaging with those who are negative
Let's say an employee impressed you by doing something difficult, like giving a winning presentation at a major meeting or conference. This is an act deserving of praise and positive feedback. Don't use it as an opportunity to point out any flaws, if the presentation took a lot of hard work and placed additional stress on the employee in question.
Some employers are tempted to say something like "I appreciated your work on the presentation. I was impressed with how you managed to overcome your nerves to deliver it. Why weren't you able to do the same at the last conference?" This example starts off positive, but then ends up on a negative. Employees, just like any other person, will tend to focus more on the negatives than the positives.
Instead, the feedback should be 100% positive from start to finish, focusing on what the employee did well, acknowledging their efforts and hard work, and pointing out a few specific details. Something like “I was impressed with the presentation you gave. I understand it was a stressful situation, but your confidence shone through, your delivery was terrific, and the overall message was clear.”
If you do want to bring up something from the past that might not have been quite as impressive, you can add on to the feedback something like “You’ve come a long way over the last few weeks” to acknowledge that the worker might have struggled in the past but is much stronger now.
- Research shows that employees respond much better to positive than negative feedback.
- Feedback that starts positive but becomes negative is self-defeating.
- Staying positive in your feedback makes it much more effective overall.
Time to Implement Positive Feedback in Your Culture
The examples and studies cited above show some of the many ways in which positive feedback can contribute to a much happier workplace overall. Everyone appreciates hearing that their efforts aren’t in vain and that their hard work is appreciated. A happier workforce is more productive, so every employer can benefit from making use of positive feedback each and every day.
If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He’s a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.