How to Deal with Negative Employee Engagement Feedback

How to Deal with Negative Employee Engagement Feedback
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Deal with Negative Employee Engagement Feedback
Know that if you ask for honest feedback through an employee engagement survey it won’t all be positive.  If you have created an environment of trust and continuous improvement, some of what you hear will be negative.  The question is whether or not you are in the right frame of mind to deal with the negative feedback employee engagement feedback effectively.

Will you discount it, sulk, feel attacked, get angry or can you rise above those feelings and use the feedback to your advantage?

Employee Engagement Surveys
Savvy companies recognize how critical employee engagement is to business success, and they regularly survey their workforce to measure how engaged their workers really are.  Even when the overall report is good, there are bound to be some negative comments.  How can you receive them and use those comments effectively when you follow through with employee engagement actions?

Who Is More Likely to Be Critical?
First, studies prove that, on average, more comments are provided by disengaged employees than by highly engaged employees.  Perhaps this is to be expected.  Disgruntled workers are apt to vent when given the chance on a confidential questionnaire.

Happier employees who don’t have an ax to grind are less likely to fill in the comments section.  So right off the bat, you need to take the negative comments in context.

The Mature Response
Next you need to deal with negative employee engagement feedback in a constructive way:

  1. Don’t Get Emotional
    Even if you suspect the feedback is directed at you or your team, you can’t afford to take it personally. Be a grown up and remember that the purpose of the survey is to get better at what you do, how the team operates, and where the company needs to improve.  Surveys can provide wonderful opportunities to grow.
  2. Don’t Over-Accentuate the Negative
    It’s easy to spend more time thinking about the negative comments than the positive. Try to keep a balance that represents the true and helpful feedback, not your overly sensitive reaction to the bad.
  3. Be Objective
    Think about the comments from the survey participant’s perspective. Is there truth in the criticism?  Are there other comments in the same vein?  Try to understand what people are trying to say and then clearly understand the implications to you and your team.
  4. Meet to Discuss the Feedback
    This is your chance to show that you’ve carefully considered the survey responses – both the positive feedback and the negative feedback that highlights problems or misunderstandings. Talk with your team about what you all can work on together to make things better.

The Bottom Line
Surveys are your opportunity to listen to what your employees really think about their leaders and their workplace.  Show that you value their input by being open to celebrate what’s working well and to fully address any issues or problems that they highlight.

To learn more about how to deal with negative employee engagement feedback, download 7 Tips on How Managers Can Increase Engagement through Communication

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance