I don't understand

A conversation? Ever started a conversation an employee only to find that even though you think you are on the same page, youíre not communicating? We all have from time to time. The barriers to communication are many and dissolving them can be difficult. Among the most significant barrier is culture. Managers I have talked with are well-aware of the realities of the multicultural workplace but struggle with how to get meaningful employee feedback. This is not a trivial concern. Research shows that the majority of employees (as high as 58%) (Adkins) are disengaged from their jobs.

The culture of the employee matters. The significance of diverse workplace viewpoints has become clear through experience conducting employee feedback over a period of years. In general, the pattern of survey responses for the workforce as a whole donít reveal the undercurrents of distinct groups of employees. Employees respond differently to requests for feedback based on their own cultural viewpoints. Unique patterns emerge once individual groups from different cultural are analyzed separately. Being able to see the concerns of each group uncovers information management needs to deal with employee concerns masked by the results representing everyone.

Cultural perspectives turned out to be significant for one of my clients when collecting employee feedback. Theirs is a unique workforce. Employees come from a variety of African, Asian, and South American countries. They speak more than twelve languages. Even within the same language groups, we found distinct variations in response patterns driven by cultural differences. This particular company is better than most in fostering low employee turnover based on a combination of high performance standards, promoting a harmonious workplace environment, and really listening to their employees.

The best way to find out is to talk to people. In the current workplace environment, the most effective way to get reliable employee feedback is by gathering data on-site and in-person. An outside, neutral vendor is ideal since employees know their responses wonít find their way back to the boss. Not only that, most human communication is non-verbal so facial expressions and so on communicate important information. Internet based feedback wrongly assume employees have access to and are familiar with computer generated questionnaires. Mailed versions historically get low participation rates. Consequently, using internet or mailed surveys means the sample received will very likely not represent your employees as a whole. The most effective forms of employee feedback and reporting are carefully crafted to allow for and uncover cultural differences. Are we really all speaking the same language? Letís find out.

Stay tuned for how disengaged employees cost you money.


Adkins. "Employee Engagement in U. S. Stagnant in 2015." Gallup Business Journal (2015): 5.