How is Employee Retention linked to Employee Recognition & Feedback

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Employee retention is linked to feedback and recognition. Organizations not making it easy for employees to give feedback are bound to face lower productivity and higher turnover.

Everyone agrees that Employee Retention is important factor in any organization. We all know that the longer are we in our jobs the more we learn and more efficient we become. On the flip side, the costs associated with hiring a new employee include:

  • Recruiting

  • Training

  • Effort related to more initial support and supervision

Apart from random events, it’s natural to assume that job and company satisfaction plays a big part in the retention.

So how can we predictably measure job satisfaction? When do you know there are issues to address?

As obvious as it may sound …

… first, we need to know what it means for us to be satisfied.

If I asked you today: “How satisfied are you in your job?”
What would drive that answer: recent events or objective evaluation of your career over time?

Even though we’d like to imagine we evaluate our career and come up with an overall rating on how satisfied we are, that’s not how our mind works. We decide on the spot based mostly on most recent or most significant events.

Also, negative events matter more to us and stick more in our memory!

We get a glimpse on how this happens in the study that was conducted in 90s.

Behavioral experiment

Researchers at University of Toronto in 1990s conducted an interesting study where they get a glimpse in how people rate their experience. Here is how it went down.

154 participants in the study volunteered to undergo a routine medical procedure performed without an anesthetic and causing some pain. The participants were prompted every 60 seconds to indicate the level of pain they experienced at that moment. The question went along the lines “indicate 0 for no pain; and 10 being - intolerable pain“. As the procedure went along, patients pain score was plotted on a chart showing the scale of pain over time.

behavioral study.JPG

As you can see, the experience of the two patients, illustrated in the graphs above, shows how they experienced the procedure.

First patient’s procedure only lasted 8 minutes; patient #2 wasn’t so lucky with 24-minute procedure.

Now consider this easy question: who from the above suffered more?

If you’re like most people, you’ll say that patient #2 suffered more. Their operation lasted longer, and they routinely indicated at least as much pain as the patient #1.

When the procedure was over, all participants were asked to rate “the total amount of pain“ they experienced during the procedure. Very similar to how you’d ask someone “how satisfied are you with your job/company/team etc“.

The answer was surprising. Patient #2 indicated much less suffering!

What’s happening?

This study revealed 2 patterns:

  • People rate their overall experience based on:

    • Their experience towards the end

    • Their worst possible moment during the experience

  • People neglect the duration of the experience when providing a rating

Averaging out our pain/satisfaction is not how we naturally remember our experience.

Most significant work experiences stick

Negative experiences happen at work. Unfortunately they stick more than positives and our overall opinion leans over time towards not being satisfied with work.

This experiment translated to a workplace also explains how employees who left the organization due dissatisfaction don’t come back and speak positively of it. Their overall experience is remembered by the last significant negative event.

Despite many positive events happening at work over years, it’s those negative one that slowly erode our satisfaction and build our overall perception.

So, what’s the solution?

Tackle Issues Early: Collect and Action Feedback

Sometimes organizations are afraid to create an area for ideas and feedback on the intranet.

What if negative comments are going to spread and create a moderation nightmare?

Although we recommend having guidelines and moderation, you won’t see many cases where you’ll need to enforce those. Just as people don’t post offensive post-in notes in the office kitchen, they’re even less likely to do anything similar when their name is attached to the post on the intranet.

Here are few other suggestions to include in your posting guidelines:

  • Check if there is a similar feedback/comment already posted

  • Think constructively

    • Propose a solution

    • Explain an alternative

    • No pointing fingers

    • Provide details

  • Specify category of feedback (technology, facilities, process etc)

As a moderator, be sure to:

  • Have a mechanism to get back to those who posted feedback

  • Redirect feedback to SME’s

  • Allocate regular time for moderation activities

  • Group similar feedback

Recognitions and Kudos

Meaningful employee recognition is important. In fact, many organizations have non-digital, highly formal processes to recognize their employees.

With your intranet, you can take advantage of the digital channel to simplify employee recognition and open it to the rest of the organization.

With some of the organizations we worked with, Kudos were opened to the entire organization so that everyone could nominate co-worker in a moderated channel.

To help organize Kudos you can suggest categorizing the type of recognition based on company core values.

recognitions and feedback.JPG

With Office 365 you can also roll up staff photos to make the feedback tool more engaging and personal.

What else?

Employee engagement is a key element at keeping everyone productive. It’s also an opportunity to understand the underlying issues your people may be facing daily and how to improve. Too often organizations discard useful feedback too quickly because it’s perceived as complaining or not actionable. Use your intranet and tools it can give you to categorize and tag feedback, crowdsource ideas, and gain momentum.

We’d be happy to help you get started with an objective intranet consultation.

Pre-built Office 365 intranet tailored to your organization.


Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.