(And 4 tips for getting feedback from your team)

When it comes to employee engagement, a “one size fits all” approach is rarely effective. For example, distributed workers communicate differently than desk workers—in fact, 83% of non-desk employees don’t even have access to company email. With a workforce that’s more mobile than ever, how can you meet everyone’s engagement needs when some employees aren’t even under the same roof?

Emplify customer Arbor Homes, Indiana’s largest home builder, operates with three distinct business functions (in-office, field sales, and construction). They found it challenging to meet employees where they are with the information they need to perform better at work. For Arbor Homes, giving employees a way to feel heard was a daily struggle. As their VP of Sales and Marketing, Steve Hatchel, put it: “Our retention has always been good, but one of the things we really wanted to do was garner more candid feedback.”

With Emplify’s employee engagement solution, specifically designed to meet the needs of distributed workforces, Arbor Homes began using our polling functionality through their internal app to allow its leaders to engage everyone, from office workers to field staff. Now Arbor Homes is able to send quick surveys to their employees on a regular basis, using different question types like multiple choice, open response, and attitude polls to ask questions in the most effective way. Employees are more comfortable giving their feedback knowing their answers are anonymous and secure, unlike in town halls or face-to-face meetings where attendees are more guarded about sharing their true opinions.

Since implementing their mobile app listening program, Arbor Homes has seen increased participation from employees on new ideas they’d like implemented at the company, including more training opportunities, topics to cover at sales meetings, tours of model homes, and more. Even better, they’re averaging a 97% push message open rate, unprecedented in the age of email newsletters and other communication methods. According to Ben Watkins, Director of Marketing and Research at Arbor Homes, “Emplify allows our company to get instant feedback about topics we’re interested in without having to wait. We can make decisions based on that feedback.”

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4 Tips to Help Your Employees Feel Heard

When it comes to engaging a mobile workforce, any business can learn from the success experienced by Arbor Homes. Giving employees at your company an easy and tangible way to provide feedback leads to better, informed decisions for the organization and employees that truly feel heard.

Take a page out of the Arbor Homes playbook with these best practices for gathering feedback from your team:

Incorporate feedback into your daily interactions. The first step to building an effective listening program is creating an open environment for feedback. Ask for it, and rely on managers to encourage it. Begin to introduce multiple touch points for feedback, from manager one-on-ones to town hall meetings to employee surveys. When employees and managers see that they have multiple options to voice feedback at work, it’s more likely to become a routine part of your company culture and daily interactions.

Give employees opportunities to give feedback anonymously. Arbor Homes is using informal pulsing—where management or HR sends a short, proactive question to employees—to give workers an opportunity to share private feedback. With an employee engagement app that ties an anonymous question to a push notification, pulsing can be a good way to assess employee engagement amidst a greater strategy or dig deeper on issues related to prior feedback.

Customize your approach. A “one size fits all” engagement approach is rarely effective because not only are employees diverse, but their methods of communication are too. Across the healthcare industry, for example, nurses might be distributed across homes or units and not check email regularly. Choose a communication strategy that works for your specific staff, and implement technology that enables better feedback gathering. Make sure that technology is accessible by employees who may not have corporate email addresses by looking for features like text authentication or mobile-friendly web views.

Remember to actually act on your feedback. Neuroscientist Paul Zak reports that a 10% increase in an employee’s trust in his or her company’s leaders has the same impact on engagement as a 36% salary increase. Once you’ve gathered enough information on a particular issue, remember to communicate company-wide changes you are making as a result of that feedback. By addressing the core of your team’s issues before they impact engagement, you’ll help employees feel heard while increasing trust and retention.

No matter the size or industry of your business, an effective employee engagement strategy starts with feedback. When employees are given a voice and accessible ways to communicate and give feedback, they are more likely to stay engaged, happy and productive. Arbor Homes is leading the way in engaging its diverse group of workers.