Employee feedback is at the core of personal and professional growth and that is something important to employees, with 75% finding personal development valuable. As a result, employees value feedback, both positive and negative, and it’s something they want more of.

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Working life is becoming increasingly agile, and, the majority of the workforce are equally as ambitious, always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and do ‘more’. It is for this reason that you should give feedback to your employees. Keeping them satiated is one of the hardest parts of being a manager. You need to get inside your employees’ heads to find out exactly what they want and what is going to keep them engaged. The way to do that is through feedback and providing meaningful feedback on a regular basis.

Currently, employees aren’t happy with the amount or quality of the feedback they are receiving. Research from Breathe has discovered that 21 per cent of the UK SME workforce never receive feedback from their manager. And, with SMEs in the UK employing 15.7 million people, that leaves 3.3 million workers clueless as to what they can do to improve their performance and personal development at work. A further one fifth only receive feedback when they request it, whilst a further 23 per cent have to wait for their annual review to get feedback on their performance.

Equally, those few that do receive feedback during their appraisals are left overwhelmingly deflated. After waiting a year to receive feedback, 25% of employees feel that it wasn’t worth the time and 12% felt that their managers weren’t well prepared.

There is an obvious disconnect between the feedback demands of the employee and the feedback process that employers have in place, so how often should you give feedback to your employees and how do you know when enough is enough?

How often should you give feedback to your employees?

Once a year is not sufficient

Employees no longer want a career, they are looking for an experience and, it is because of that, employers can no longer use a one size fits all approach. Research by Office Vibe states that 65% of employees want more feedback, unsurprising really when so many are getting such fragmented feedback, if they are getting any at all. This conforms to the view that providing feedback during annual appraisals, as is the case for the majority of the UK workforce, is no longer sufficient. However, this is nothing new. This need for performance management to up it’s game has been the elephant in the HR room for 17 years, and counting, according to excerpts from a report titled “The 2000 Performance Management Survey”.

So how often should you give feedback to your employees? Weekly? Every other Monday? Bimonthly? The answer, is all of the above, and, simultaneously, none of them. It should not be up to the manager to determine when feedback is given to employees and that is where the problem lies. Employers need to understand what it is each employee requires from feedback and to agree a personalised process tailored to their needs.

However, it is not plausible for a manager with 7 direct reports to formally feedback to them on a weekly basis. So, managers also need to take into account the needs of the business and devise a system that works for both parties. It’s also important to understand that there is still 35% of the workforce that are happy with their annual feedback process and so forcing them to meet with you more regularly isn’t going to benefit you or them.

Where’s the happy medium?

It is safe to assume, that, with the majority of staff craving more feedback, the frequency needs to be increased, but how often is that? Research suggests that providing monthly feedback, at least, seems to be the optimum amount, with employee performance increasing by 46% as a result. Interestingly, the researchers found that detailed weekly feedback loses its usefulness and providing more frequent feedback, even when it is less detailed, doesn’t seem to help professionals improve their performance.

It’s clear, as decades of research has shown, that more needs to be done when it comes to providing employees with feedback. The annual appraisal is no longer sufficient to fulfil the quest for personal development that the modern day workforce craves. So how often should you give feedback to your employees? The general consensus is that you should aim for monthly feedback. This, at the very least, increases feedback twelve-fold. To provide the right amount of feedback to your employees you need to discuss with them, as individuals, what it is they are looking to gain from your interactions and you will be able to increase and reduce where appropriate.

3 quick wins to help you give regular feedback to your employees

It's important to create a feedback habit and here are three super easy ways you can start straight away without having to put a meeting in your diary!

  • Online HR systems will have recognition functions that you can use to shout about what a great job your employees are doing. Social recognition is also so great for the soul.
  • Don’t split yourself off from your workforce. Being in the trenches with your team will let you see exactly what they’re experiencing and highlight when they’re doing things right.
  • Don’t wait to give feedback, especially if it’s praise. If it is a critique then make sure you’re in a quiet and private environment, but the key is not to let it build up.

breatheHR appraisal report