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How we supercharged our employee feedback process with these 4 simple UX design steps

Wednesday 12 February 2020

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Tom Hambly's picture
By Tom Hambly

Here at CACI Information Intelligence Group, we believe regular feedback is crucial to our employees’ personal and professional development. But we found that gathering 360-degree feedback for employees was a tough task. No one really likes having to fill out survey after survey and our Human Resources team found themselves endlessly chasing employees via email to submit feedback on team members.

To improve this process, the HR team designed an online survey so employees could submit more detailed and specific feedback. Unfortunately, there were major issues with the format and a barrage of discontent followed. So, it was time for a revamp.

For a long time now, we have had a UX guild (of which I am part of) – a cross-project group that meets once a month to discuss UX, learn new things, and solve wider problems both within the business unit and within specific client projects. The problem of the feedback survey was passed to the UX guild to make some improvements.

Here’s some insight into what the guild did and what happened next.

Why the Process Wasn’t Working  

We found that the initial feedback process wasn’t as valuable as it could have been. There was little structure and no mandatory questions. That meant feedback was often inconsistent so the receiver of the feedback was often left with a lack of clear direction what they were doing well and where they could be better. The HR team also felt they could also benefit from more quantitative data, so they could track progress with metrics.

4 Steps to Supercharge Our Employee Feedback

We had several UX Guild workshops on the problem using the ‘double diamond of design’ approach.
• You diverge into ideas and problems
• Converge on a set of problems to focus on
• Then diverge again on design ideas
• Finally, converging again to create a prototype
This process allowed us to identify the biggest problems, then test for any usability issues with users by employing a prototype. 

1. Empathise: User Research  

We used an Empathy Map to gather user requirements. An Empathy Map allows you to get an insight on a user group by listing their tasks, feelings, pain points, goals and influences. We made one for the employees and one for the HR department. We included these users in a workshop and asked them to fill in the map using post-it notes. It’s important to collect user research from all the different user groups so that the system designed is not biased. By just focusing on one set of users, you will likely misunderstand and make assumptions about the needs of others using the system.

2. Define: Understand the problems

Taking all this information and finding the key issues can be tricky, especially when you’re trying not to be  influenced by  biased views. A good indicator is frequency of post-its – if you have many saying the same thing then you know it is a common theme. Focus on these common themes as they usually identify the most valuable problems and goals. As a group you should discuss any lower priority items to agree they are worth dismissing.
The main learnings were: 

• Anonymous feedback submissions are not useful
• The current question asking to rank arbitrary skills is hard to use
• The HR team needed relevant and accurate data for tracking progression
• People don’t always submit feedback for lack of time
• Feedback wasn’t always targeted which didn’t support an individual’s career development
• Feedback was lacking in detail
• We have different roles and the original “one size fits all” feedback didn’t work

 

3. Ideate: Whiteboard Wireframe Ideas

Once we knew our problems, we used a whiteboard to sketch ideas. As a team, different members suggested a broad range of ideas, no matter how out of scope they may have seemed. Once everyone had the opportunity to put their suggestions forward, we discussed them as a group. Using these problems, we came up with the following solutions:

• Make all questions mandatory in order to provide more detail
• Add a username field to prevent anonymous responses
• Rank skills based on the employee’s individual career level
• Include relevant links to the career framework to prompt relevant feedback
• Make it short, simple and easy to use
 

4. Prototyping: Choosing 2 designs to A/B test 

We took two key ideas and decided to develop them into prototypes. Two Guild Members created feedback forms using Survey Hero. Once completed, the Guild members performed an A/B test by sending them out to their project teams. Feedback was gathered by asking the participants which survey they preferred and their reasoning why. After a few more adjustments, the final version was established.

Outcomes

After rolling out to the entire employee base, the feedback we have received on the forms has been positive from both employees and the HR team. What’s more, a significant improvement has been seen in the responses given.
Here’s some of the specific feedback we received:

‘I found the feedback using the new format more useful than previously as it seemed to be more detailed, focused and thus more valuable. I’m not sure if this is because of the new format or because the team felt more motivated than usual to write decent feedback, but it was certainly better than previously’
‘I really liked the format of the feedback. Easier to pull out clear positives/negatives with directly relevant rationale. I also appreciate the personalised feedback (i.e. who feedback is from).’

Conclusion

Wrapping up, you can see how effective the ‘double diamond’ of design can be. It can be applied to most design decisions and is a great team exercise when you are unclear of your problems and the direction of your solutions.
Our feedback process is now more relevant, valuable and consistent. We plan to continue to seek feedback about the process and come up with ideas about how to continually improve. As a Software Engineer passionate about my career, it’s these small things which make CACI a fantastic place to work.

Curious about UX and how to get involved at CACI? Drop us a message and speak to one of our engineers or our on-house recruiter, to learn more.

 

Here at CACI Information Intelligence Group, we believe regular feedback is crucial to our employees’ personal and professional development. But we found that gathering 360-degree feedback for employees was a tough task. No one really likes having to fill out survey after survey and our Human Resources team found themselves endlessly chasing employees via email to submit feedback on team members.

How we supercharged our employee feedback process with these 4 simple UX design steps