Updated: Oct 30, 2021
What is Employee feedback?
For many, the phrase employee feedback may conjure images of being dragged to the boss's office to be chastised for something wrong that happened at work. However, employee feedback doesn't necessarily have to be bad, and it definitely doesn't have to be critical.
When used properly, giving feedback can be a great tool to teach a worker how they can improve, or to thank or praise them for great work that they've done. The proper use of employee feedback can help workers learn from what they've done right or wrong, learn what an employer expects of them and learn what will help the business excel.
But, when employee feedback conversations are done incorrectly, workers may feel embarrassed, upset or hopeless. This can lead to a lack of productivity and can make workers associate negative connotations with their work.
Here, we run through what the different types of employee feedback are, how they should be used and examples of effective feedback that should help improve employee engagement, performance and positivity at work.
What are the different types of employee feedback?
Positive feedback is essentially a pat on the back for employers who have worked hard and achieved great results for the company. By providing positive feedback for a worker who's done a great job, the employee will feel appreciated and will understand that their hard work is valued. By voicing appreciation for an employee's work, they should feel encouraged to keep up their efforts, and positive reinforcement is linked to improved performance in the workplace.
Constructive feedback needn't be positive or negative - the purpose of constructive feedback is to help an employee learn about what is expected in the workplace, and what can generate great results. Constructive feedback is much more commonly linked to negative feedback than positive feedback - as rather than congratulating someone, it's showing the worker what can be done to improve. The effectiveness of constructive feedback is primarily in the way that it is communicated. Generally, constructive feedback tends to be a gentle suggestion about what an employer should change in their work behaviours or efforts, and why.
There is a huge difference between negative feedback and criticism. Criticism will often leave an employee feeling as though they are unappreciated and that they aren't worthy of the job. It can also leave many employees feeling like "what's the point" and they can distance themselves from the work because they feel as though their efforts are worthless. This is why it's very important to effectively deliver negative feedback without criticism.
Negative feedback should be communicated constructively. It means pointing out when an employee has missed the mark and explaining why they have missed the mark. As an employer, negative feedback can sometimes be uncomfortable, but communicating it is one of the only ways that an employee will learn to improve.
What are some examples of effective employee feedback?
Positive employee feedback examples
Below are some situations where positive feedback should be communicated in the workplace and positive feedback examples.
When an employee has hit - or exceeded - a sales or work target.
Example: "We had a very high sales target this month and I'm very impressed with the time and effort that you put in which bought about your great results. I noticed you consistently monitoring your results, and that you put in extra effort to ensure that your target was met. Your hard work has boosted the company and your effort is very appreciated."
When an employee has willingly taken on extra responsibilities
Example: "As a teacher, you're expected to teach and nurture the students in your class. I noticed that you not only completed and excelled at this, but you also took time outside of your work hours to personally help students that were struggling by spending some one on one time tutoring them. Seeing you so dedicated to your profession and is not only impressive to us as a company, but you've also made a huge difference in a child's life and it's something you should be proud of."
When an employee has put in extra time at work to make sure a project is finished by the deadline
Example: "I know that getting the full load of work done by the end of the month was a daunting experience at times, especially as the deadline neared and there was still a lot to do. I saw you push yourself and work extra hard so that you could have the work finished by the deadline. I know this isn't easy to do, especially when you feel under pressure, so I want you to know that we recognise your hard work. Your dedication has helped encourage other team members and shown them that the deadlines and achievable, and for this, we want to thank you."
When an employee has stepped out of their own responsibilities and helped out a work mate
Example: "It's clear that you are extremely capable when it comes to your job, and hitting the targets required for the month so that we can reach our sales target and the business can succeed. However, over the past few weeks, I've noticed that you've been consistently helping out Aaron too, who isn't as confident or knowledgeable with sales as you are. Since you've been helping out Aaron I've personally watched his confidence grow and his daily sales increase. You should be proud of the qualities that this exhibits and that you've nurtured a colleague in a way that will bring him future success."
When an employee has taken iniative and completed tasks they haven't been specifically allocated
Example: "I know that your specific role requires you to encourage clients to invest in our services from the list of potential clients we gave you. Your job role doesn't require you to step outside the box and sour and contact clients that you think could be potentially interested in our services. I noticed that you went above and beyond by doing this, and as a result, you have helped our company succeed. Your initiative is far beyond what was expected, and it is very much appreciated. It's exactly what leaders have as a quality and your hard work has not gone unnoticed."
When customers or clients have specifically praised their experience with the employee
Example: "The guests in room 205 checked out of the hotel today and they had glowing praise for you. They specifically mentioned that your happy and positive attitude improved their stay significantly. They also said that you were willing to go above and beyond to help make their stay enjoyable. Not only have you made the hotel look great, but you've also had a positive effect on the guests experience. You should feel very proud of yourself and all of management is grateful for your hard work."
When an employee resolves conflict
Example: "Being involved with conflict can be extremely uncomfortable, and, as you've seen first hand it can be detrimental to many other workers' productivity. I saw the way that you resolved the disagreement between Jack and Sebastian over the marketing techniques for the latest campaign. You made both people feel heard and you helped them come to a compromised resolution. This is helpful for the entire team and we are appreciative."
When an employee consistently generates new ideas to help the business succeed
Example: "As an employee it can be very easy to just get the work done that's allocated to you - after all, that is your job description and that's what's expected. However, your creativity and impressive ideas have helped spawn new initiatives at the company, and it has inspired other workers to contribute new and exciting ideas too. It's a very helpful skill to have on our team"
When an employees work is done to a very high quality
Example: "The couple that you cooked dinner for last night were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary and wanted it to be perfect. The time and effort you put into both the presentation and the quality of food was second to none. Your hard work has left them with a memory they will never forget."
Constructive employee feedback examples
Below are some situations where constructive feedback should be communicated in the workplace and constructive feedback examples.
When an employee has a dominating personality and doesn't allow for other workers to share their ideas
Example: "The fact that you're willing to put your hand up and take on responsibilities or share exciting new ideas is a good quality. However, I've noticed that some other employers have attempted to share ideas too that you haven't really considered. Team work is important and the best outcome can be achieved by hearing everyone's ideas, so I'd appreciate it if you could listen to some other opinions before sharing your ideas in the future."
When an employee doesn't achieve their set goals
Example: "I've noticed that you've seemed to have been struggling over the past few weeks and some goals that you would normally meet, haven't been met. Is there a reason for this? Could you walk me through where you're currently at and how you plan to achieve the upcoming set goals?"
When an employee lacks attention to detail
Example: "As a wedding planning company, we are expected to make sure the couple's day is nothing short of perfect. At the last wedding, there were some mistakes, like the wrong coloured flowers and missing place holders. I wanted to see if there's a reason for these mishaps and if there's anything we can do to help you raise effective productivity again?"
When an employee consistently doesn't use their own initiative
Example: "In general, you achieve what we ask of you and this is appreciated. However, to succeed and advance in this job role we also need you to take initiative and not just complete the tasks allocated to you - but also brain storm ways you can help the company succeed. How would you feel most comfortable having the confidence to do this in the future?"
When an employee misses an important meeting on a once off occasion
Example: "We appreciate you as an employee and your hardwork has not gone unnoticed. But, the meeting that you missed this week was extremely important and had been scheduled in for a week. Without you there we weren't able to achieve what we intended and other people's time was wasted. Do you have a reason that you missed to meeting and how can we avoid this happening again?"
When an employee won't' ask for help even when they're struggling with a task
Example: "I understand that you are a hard worker and don't want to dominate other employees or managements time when they have a job to do. But, I want you to feel comfortable that if you feel stressed about a particular task, or aren't sure how to complete it, that you can come to us for help. We may be able to quickly help you sort out the problem, increasing productivity and better use of your time to continue the task at hand."
When an employee is notably unmotivated
Example: "Sharon, I wanted to speak to you because I've noticed you've been struggling with motivation over the last few weeks. We want you to perform to the best of your abilities, and we want you to feel as though you can come to use if there is something affecting your performance. Is there anything you'd like to share that may be making you feel less motivated?"
Negative employee feedback examples
Below are some situations where negative feedback should be communicated in the workplace and examples of how that feedback can be delivered.
When an employee misses a deadline
Example: "We set deadlines so that targets can be reached and the appropriate amount of work can be completed in the given time. When deadlines are missed it gives other employees an extra work load, and will add extra work to what's expected from you next month. This can be overwhelming for both your and your teammates. What can we do to help you ensure that you meet deadlines?"
When an employee bullies other team members
Example: "Zack, I noticed that you've consistently mocked or laughed at a few different employee's ideas that they've put forward for our next marketing campaign. At our company, we want all employees to feel comfortable to be able to sure their opinions and ideas. The way you've treated these employees is bullying which is not accepted in our company. Please be mindful of the way you speak to other employees in future circumstances."
When an employee is consistently late to work
Example: "I've noticed that you're consistently late to work. We set workloads and hours so that your job role can be completed effectively and the business can thrive. When you're late to work this is jeopardized. Is there a way that we can ensure that you will show up to your job on time as this is a requirement of your role."
When an employee is purposeful neglecting their work (eg spending time on Facebook or online shopping when they should be working)
Example: "I wanted to speak to you about the lack of dedication you've shown in the work place recently. On numerous occasions, I've noticed you on Facebook and Twitter when you should be attending to customers. These customers noticed your lack of effort and left the shop without finalising their purchases. This not only affects our revenue but also causes the customer to associate negative connotations with our business. We cannot tolerate this use of social media in the workplace and I request that you discontinue this type of behaviour."
When an employee is displaying offensive behaviour in the work place (eg rude language and inappropriate jokes)
Example: "Sara, I've noticed on multiple occasions that you've used offensive language in the work place. This can make other employees feel uncomfortable. It also reflects badly on us as a company if a client hears this type of language. As outlined in our employee guidelines, offensive language isn't tolerated. I will need you to reframe from using this type of language in the workplace from now on."
When an employee is rude or dismissive to customers or clients
Example: "Our business succeeds through sales and the relationship that's built with our customers. Yesterday I noticed that a customer asked you if the leather on our handbags is waterproof and you shrugged your shoulders and told them to google it. This type of attitude is not acceptable in our workplace, if you don't know the answer to a customer's question, please ask a fellow employee so that you can provide them with the information they require in order to encourage them to make the purchase."