How to host an employee Q&A session

Hosting an employee Q&A session can help executives and company owners get a better understanding of the culture and feelings of their employees. Whether it’s a small startup or a large corporation that operates across multiple states, it can be very challenging for the CEO and other leaders of the organization to know how employees are feeling about their jobs and assigned tasks. Accepting feedback from employees helps to provide a better foundation for the leadership of any company, and hosting an employee Q&A session can help a company to:

Understand company dynamics

When you engage your employees, you’ll get a better feel for the dynamics of the workplace. Even in a single office setup, different departments often have unique interactions among supervisors and staff members, as well as among members of the team. It’s hard to get a feel for the dynamics if executives simply try to join in on team meetings or ask supervisors for feedback. Staff members tend to act differently when the CEO or other higher-up is around, making it hard to get a true understanding of the situation.

When a company has staff members working out of multiple offices, it’s even more challenging to nail down the specifics of workplace dynamics. If executives offer a work Q&A session that allows employees to share feedback confidentially, they might get more honest information than they would by spending days within the department.

Monitor productivity and performance

One of the biggest complaints among business owners is high turnover. Recruiting and hiring is time-consuming and often requires the recruiter, hiring manager, and an executive to go through multiple rounds of interviews and before making a final decision. The amount of time and money spent to hire a single employee is staggering. In fact, a recent study performed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimated that it takes an average of 42 days to fill an open position and costs a company an average of $4,129 per new hire.

Staff turnover often occurs because of perceived mistreatment or dissatisfaction in a role. If your company can understand what makes employees feel mistreated or dissatisfied at work, and then fix the issues that are reasonable, the turnover rates could drop. Feeling understood and listened to are two major factors in workplace satisfaction, especially if employees feel that those higher up within the company are listening and responding to feedback. It’s also likely that your employees will work harder and remain loyal when they feel satisfied.

Minimize compliance risks

With so many local, state, and federal laws and regulations governing business, it’s challenging for company owners to keep up. A business owner also can’t handle every compliance issue that comes up so this responsibility often falls on supervisors and managers. It’s crucial to make sure that those you have put in charge are actually maintaining compliance with these rules and regulations. If someone lets something slide, you could face a stiff penalty or fine. In extreme cases, employees or clients could take legal action against your company.

According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, employee engagement also improves safety at workplaces. Companies that regularly engage employees in Q&A sessions and ask for feedback report 48 percent fewer safety incidents. An employee Q&A can also help you get a sense of which managers are sticking to the rules and which tend to be more lax about regulations. Feedback from employees can also make it easier to understand how each staff member receives information about new rules or requirements within the workplace, helping you find ways to improve communication and overall understanding.

Ensure job satisfaction

One of the key ways to reduce turnover and improve productivity is to make sure your employees feel satisfied at work. While there will certainly be challenging days, mistakes, and missed deadlines, the overall atmosphere should be positive and supportive. Employees that enjoy their jobs tend to miss fewer days as well, so this aids in productivity and higher morale. It’s hard to know who feels satisfied at work unless you ask for feedback. Opening the discussion with questions that allow for expression and providing an atmosphere that encourages sharing without fear of pushback are critical factors in an employee Q&A.

When you receive the feedback you request, the next step is doing something about it. If multiple employees are struggling with a supervisor, take a closer look to see what might be causing the friction. When you hear that the benefits offered to your staff members are too expensive or don’t cover important treatments, consider meeting with the HR department to look into other options. If your executive team simply asks for feedback but does not make any changes, employees may start to feel like it’s a waste of time to participate.

Work Q&A ideas

A poll conducted by Gallup in 2013 showed that only 13 percent of employees surveyed felt satisfied at work. It’s important for business owners to look for ways to improve satisfaction and keep talented employees around. An employee Q&A can help you get feedback needed to make changes and improve the way your employees feel about their jobs and the company overall.

However, simply asking basic “yes” or “no” questions won’t give you the information you really need. Ask open-ended questions that allow employees to elaborate in areas in which they have strong feelings or concerns. Use sliding scales and other units of measurement to get a better sense of who is extremely dissatisfied versus who feels moderately satisfied. Focus on hot-button issues among many employees, such as work-life balance, benefits packages, compensation, and career path or opportunities for promotion.

Sample questions for an employee Q&A:

  • Would you refer a friend or family member to work here?
  • If you decided to resign from your position tomorrow, what reason would you give?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how satisfied do you feel at work?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how valued do you feel at work?
  • Do you feel that you understand your career path or opportunities for promotion?
  • When you accomplished your last project, did you receive recognition from your supervisor?
  • If you were looking for a job tomorrow, would you apply for your current job again?
  • Do you think you will still be working for this company in one year? Five years? Ten years?
  • Do you feel that you’re reaching your full potential in your current job?
  • Can you recite the values or mission statement of the organization?
  • Do you feel that the organization follows the values or mission statement?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel giving feedback to your manager?
  • Do you feel respected by your co-workers? Do you feel that your coworkers respect one another?
  • How do you have fun at work?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
  • Describe the company culture in three words
  • If you give feedback, do you feel that the leadership team will take it seriously?
  • Do you feel that the leadership at this company helps to contribute to a positive atmosphere?

You may choose to host your Q&A session in a live format, such as in-person, by phone, or through a video chat. It can be more challenging to get honest feedback this way, so many companies opt for surveys or questionnaires that employees can complete anonymously. If you still find it challenging to get responses, you might consider offering incentives to departments who get the highest number of completed surveys or participation rates.

When hosting an employee Q&A session, one of the most critical factors is making sure that all employees who participate feel that they won’t be penalized or targeted for sharing feedback. If employees are struggling with an overbearing, negative supervisor, they may worry about the pushback they’ll receive after expressing their unhappiness with their current management structure. For some employees, it’s easier to find another job and move on than it is to deal with stress and fear at work every day. But taking the time to reassure your employees and take their feedback into account could help your company reduce turnover and improve satisfaction.

With the right questions and an open-minded approach, your company’s leadership team can get answers to tough questions, such as why turnover rates are higher in certain departments and whether employees feel that they can balance work responsibilities with their personal lives. As you receive this feedback, take the time to meet as a team and discuss ways to improve the overall culture and to create a more positive atmosphere for every employee.

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