3 Steps To Making the Most of Employee Feedback (Both Internal and External)

October 19, 2017

As an employer or HR professional, employee feedback is at the heart of what you do every day. How your employees feel about their work (and about you as their employer) is a critical piece of what drives their engagement in the workplace, the amount of effort they put in, the level of productivity they have day-to-day, and the overall attitude they carry while doing it all.

And what’s also important to note is the fact that your online reviews directly impact your profit; a study conducted by Harvard Business School found that an increase in your online rating of just one star can be tied to a 9% increase in overall revenue.

Don’t make the mistake of relying only on exit interviews and engagement surveys for employee feedback when there are actually two important sources you should be evaluating regularly: internal and external.

[We study the statistical connection between internal and external employee reviews (on online reviews sites) with our friends at Energage in this whitepaper]

Internal vs. External feedback

Internal employee feedback is the kind you typically receive through engagement surveys, stay interviews, and exit interviews that your organization conducts on its own or with the help of a third party that specializes in employee engagement surveys. External feedback, on the other hand, is the type of insight you’d find on public forums like employer review site kununu and social media sites like Linkedin, Quora and Facebook.

Internal and external feedback have their own nuances, but both matter in their own ways:

Internal feedback represents the “pulse” of what’s going on in your company at the moment you capture the feedback, while external reviews give a wholistic snapshot of your company from both former and current employees in a way that the general public – and especially job seekers – can use and learn from.

That last part is worth highlighting, by the way – the vast majority of job seekers cite online reviews (external feedback) before accepting a job offer, yet so many HR teams and company leaders fail to incorporate external feedback in their engagement strategies.

Your job as an advocate for your employees’ happiness, especially after finishing this article, is to avoid making that same mistake and to start making the most of all of the employee feedback you can get your hands on!


Here are some specific steps you can take in your organization to make the most of internal and external employee feedback:

Use external feedback as an opportunity

Use external feedback as an opportunity to demonstrate how you handle grievances. Most employer review platforms give you the opportunity to respond to comments about your company, and although drafting a productive response can be hard when the poster is anonymous, you can’t afford not to.

Here’s an example:

Anonymous Comment: “I currently work at this company and am very dissatisfied. My manager told me I would be making more than I am and is often degrading in his communication.”

Employer Response: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dissatisfied with your manager here and want you to know that his behavior doesn’t meet our high standards of respect. We care about your satisfaction and want to continue our employment relationship with you; please contact Ariel Gooden in Human Resources at 777-555-6221 to get this situation resolved right away.”

Tip: Respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Never miss the opportunity to demonstrate your high level of engagement, commitment to your brand, and desire to create a positive company culture.

Expect a high level of accountability 

If you’re going to put a high level of merit into the feedback you receive from your employees, you must first demand a high level of accountability to employees contributing the feedback. In other words, make sure employees know that they should always be submitting feedback to communicate their needs, rather than assuming you know what they’re thinking and feeling.

More specifically, this means that employees who have a complaint or a concern can’t casually swing by, vent, and expect results; rather, they should bring dates, times, specific details and examples, and make recommendations for solutions. This ensures that the employee feedback that you do have on your hands comes with enough details for you to make the most of it and close the loop accordingly.

Turn feedback into data and data into action

As you receive employee feedback – grievances, reasons for leaving, social media complaints, and compliments – enter that information somewhere. Knowing the primary reasons employees leave your company and the number one driver of disengagement or even engagement is critical for two reasons:

    1. You should evaluate this data continuously to determine what the company can do at a high level to better recruit, retain, and engage employees, and
    2. You should cite this data when the company is making decisions that impact people’s work on a specific and day-to-day basis 

Feedback is only valuable when you use it to create positive change.

We recommend taking just a single piece of advice from this post and applying it in your role today. Which will you choose?



Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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