Comment Replies is a newly released feature that allows specific individuals to respond to confidential comments directly in the platform after a survey has closed. Since this feature requires an Account Administrator to turn on in order to take effect, the following guide is intended to help you decide whether Comment Replies is right for your organization. To learn more about how to use Comment Replies, check out this article.
Why would I use Comment Replies?
Our data tells us that when leaders are visible in demonstrating that people are important to company success, we see both an uptick in engagement scores and an uptick in Glassdoor scores. The positive relationships between leadership visibility and employee engagement, and between leadership visibility and employer brand, suggest that taking steps to increase the ways in which leaders are seen to connect and communicate with employees, and act with thoughtfulness and care, will be accompanied by positive outcomes in both employee engagement and employer brand perceptions of the company.
An easy way for leaders to visibly demonstrate thoughtfulness and care is to respond to survey comments directly in the platform through Comment Replies. When a leader responds to a comment through Comment Replies, all others viewing comments in reports will see the leader’s response. The public nature is important because it helps leaders be more visible in acknowledging employee feedback, providing clarity by sharing important context and information, and responding to concerns in ways that build alignment and trust. We recommend sharing reports with comments broadly to make full use of the Comment Replies feature.
How would I use this feature?
- Provide clarity and direction during periods of emergency and abrupt change. During times of emergency, where confusion, fear, and even panic may set in, employees will look to their leaders to provide reassurance, stability, clarity, and direction. Leadership visibility, timely communication, and over-communication are even more crucial under these conditions. Comment Replies is a helpful tool to quickly respond to important concerns and to inform people of more formal actions and policies that may be underway.
- Connect people with disparate sources of tools and information. As companies grow in size and complexity, it will become harder for employees to be aware of all resources and information available to them beyond their immediate teams. For example, employees might not be aware of programs that you already have in place (e.g., manager training programs) or that you’re already working on that they can be a part of crafting (e.g., developing an employee resource group).
- Address issues related to misconduct, safety, or harassment. If an employee raises issues of misconduct, safety concerns, or harassment, you can quickly connect them to a hotline, or your employee assistance program depending on what is appropriate for the situation.
- Seek clarity or additional information. Sometimes comments are vague and additional clarification would make them more actionable. While an employee cannot respond to your comment, you can ask them to come forward if they’re comfortable to provide more insight into their idea or provide an anonymous forum for elaborating.
- Simply acknowledge important feedback. Letting the person know they’ve been heard and something will be done about it can be extremely powerful.
Remember that replying to comments is only one forum for continuing communication, and shouldn’t replace taking meaningful and scalable action. Therefore, the aim shouldn’t be to respond to every comment. That being said, a response can be very meaningful to the original commenter and those that have access to see it.
Should I use Comment Replies for my organization?
We highly recommend that this feature is turned on only for companies with more mature feedback practices and action-taking processes.
Consider these questions before you turn on Comment Replies:
- Are employees trained on how to give actionable feedback? If employees leave comments that are combative, replying to them won’t help.
- Are leaders and managers prepared to receive feedback?
- Are leaders and managers willing to connect and communicate more visibly with their employees?
Survey and Action-Taking Maturity
- Would you consider your current action taking process to be effective? If leaders already struggle with understanding and acting on their results, this feature could create an additional layer of complexity and slow down the process even more. The aim of the survey should still be to take action, and Comment Replies shouldn’t detract from that.
- Is action taking decentralized or centralized? This will help determine who has access, and the information needed, to respond.
- Does your organization already share comments with reports? You’ll reap the more of the benefits of Comment Replies if other employees can also see the leader’s responses in shared reports.
If you feel Comment Replies is not quite right for you based on your answers to the above questions you could consider starting an “Ask Me Anything” or AMA question in the survey this way, leaders can start by replying to questions people have specifically asked that they want a response to in an open channel. This can help build your culture of feedback.
What practices should I put in place with Comment Replies?
If you do turn on Comment Replies, which you can learn more about the technical aspect of the feature here, we recommend taking the following steps to encourage good feedback practices and behaviors.
- We recommend that Account Administrators enable Comment Replies before launching a survey so that employees are appropriately notified that their comments could be replied to.
- In your pre-launch survey communications, inform people that specific leaders will be able to reply to comments, and link to our FAQs for employees.
- Hold training sessions with Comment Repliers - we’ve created this Quick tip to help you get started - and explain your overall strategy for how this fits into your action-taking process.
- In your survey results sessions for employees and in follow-up communications explain the rationale for selecting particular comments to respond to and remind them that not every single one will receive a response.