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Listening to the voice of the employee

In the era of Great Resignation, there is a significant gap between what employees are experiencing and what their employers think they’re experiencing.

Recent research by Gartner has found that, while 75 percent of senior executives believe that their organisations have a flexible culture, only 57 percent of their employees agree. Even more tellingly, while 77 percent of executives say that their employees have opportunities to give feedback on how to improve their experience of work, only 40 percent of their employees share this view.

What got us here won’t get us there

Employee turnover across all industries increased dramatically this year and experts predict this trend will continue, if not increase, estimating that one in three employees would voluntarily leave their job in 2023. To overcome The Great Resignation challenges and retain talent, leaders need to continuously re-recruit existing employees through a variety of engagement and feedback techniques.

But while the standard feedback techniques, such as annual surveys, worked when there was a consistent, office-based organisational structure, the quantitative approach may not be as helpful in the new hybrid work environment. According to Gallup’s’ global study of nearly two million employees across 230 organisations, the one of the most common mistakes leaders make is approaching employee feedback and engagement as simply an HR task, making them sporadic or one-off exercises.

Formal surveys can provide a vehicle for sharing comments anonymously, however a common criticism is that feedback lacks depth or doesn’t provide a full picture. Informal feedback, on the other hand, stimulates a shift in the way employees and leaders interact and discuss their comments. Leadership at its core is a relational and interactive skill, and open informal feedback can facilitate a change in the way leaders discuss performance with their teams.

Building trust in leadership

A number of studies confirm that high levels of employee engagement positively impact retention, innovation, and customer services, while also providing performance and productivity gains. However, according to Gallup, despite companies’ best efforts, nearly 85 percent of employees worldwide are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. The reasons behind it range from poor management and lack of recognition and trust in leadership. Trust is a key factor in giving and receiving feedback, because if employees don’t trust their leaders, they will be unwilling to share honest feedback and instead, they’ll try to avoid it or simply tell their leaders what they think they want to hear.

Directness and honesty, when provided in the spirit of genuinely helping and supporting the growth of employees, can create a dynamic mindset that inspires meaningful change within teams, as open dialogues build the kind of trust that creates a culture of psychological safety. Leaders are the ambassadors and role models of a company’s culture, and they need to work toward building trust and receiving employee feedback, as well as leverage managers effectively in support of company culture, as they are usually the first to learn of employee concerns.

An essential, yet often forgotten, aspect of seeking people’s feedback is following up on the information provided and involving employees in implementing any changes. However, performance is a journey, and it’s the leader’s job to help shape a path towards commitment. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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