Feedback is a mechanism for change and, if there’s one thing that we know employees want, its to develop and change for the better. To help employees develop and perform at their best it’s vital that employers and line managers provide feedback. It is an essential tool for any manager in a small business.

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What is feedback?

Feedback, in an organisational context, is the information given to an individual or group about about their performance of a task or a number of tasks that make up their job role. Feedback occurs when an environment reacts to an action or behaviour. Within the workplace there are various types of feedback, ‘operational feedback’ which is the internally generated information on a firm’s performance, which can filter down to an individual’s performance. Equally, responses to stimuli such as praise or criticism is considered feedback as it may bring about a change in the recipient’s behaviour.


Research from breatheHR has shown that small business owners understand the importance of giving feedback as 72 per cent said that the employee appraisal process was valuable, and a third (32%) considered it to be essential. However, this isn’t translating into action. The overall theme of the research results indicate that employers aren’t providing employees with ample opportunity for personal development and feedback.


Almost a quarter of employees (23%) only receive feedback once a year during their reviews, whilst more than one fifth (21%) never receive feedback from their manager. The lack of structure around feedback is further exacerbated by the fact that only 20% of small business workers receive feedback when they request it. Considering that it has been identified as an important mechanism for change, the number of small businesses that don’t provide a sufficient amount of feedback, if any, is staggering.


Reasons you should give feedback to your employees

Here are some very compelling reasons why you should give feedback to your employees.

1. Opens up a dialogue

The act of giving feedback opens up a dialogue between you and your employees. Knowing that you are honest with them and that they can talk to you helps you to build trust with your employees and colleagues. In doing so, you leave the door open for your employees to approach you to talk further, whether that is socially or about any issues at work for example, both of which are positive.

2. It can be motivating

Receiving positive feedback will always be appreciated by your employees. It is good for them to know what they are doing right which can motivate them to do it again or strive to achieve more. It’s also motivating to receive constructive feedback as it lets your employees know exactly what they need to do in order to reach that target and improve in the future.

3. It’s a tool for continued learning

Not all of us are right all of the time. Giving your employees constructive feedback to let them know what they can improve on aids towards their personal development, something that we know is important to them. Likewise by accepting feedback from an employee it allows you to grow as a leader and a manager and will benefit you in the long run.

4. Your employees want it

The report from breatheHR demonstrates that feedback is valuable to employees, with 75 per cent saying that personal development is valuable to them. Which, without feedback, wouldn’t be possible. Office Vibe also found that 65% of employees actually want more feedback, which is reason enough to give feedback to your employees.

5. Confirms employee value

Feedback, both negative and positive, confirms to the employee that what they are doing matters. It is important for them to know that their contribution is valued, not just by their direct manager but that it plays a part in the wider success of the business. No one wants to spend their time doing work that isn’t worthwhile or valuable so it’s important to feedback not only when they are doing well but also when there is room for improvement.

6. Provides clarity

Creating a regular feedback habit  plays a pivotal role in ensuring that you and your employees are on the same page when it comes to tasks, work and projects. By providing regular feedback throughout a project for example, everyone within the team will know that it is on track, or whether someone else’s expertise could be utilised. Feedback shouldn’t just be a one way process. Managers should also accept feedback from their employees. If an employee requires training or has an issue, they should be able to feedback to their manager for them to action on their behalf. 


Giving feedback to your employees is an essential part of being a manager as the process can bring about positive change. Personal development is valuable to three quarters of the UK small business workforce and a large part in achieving that is through feedback. Without knowing what they are doing right and, not quite so right, your employees aren’t going to be able to develop in your workplace making feedback crucial to your small business.

breatheHR appraisal report