Championing a culture of continuous listening at PTSB

On March 30, a group of HR leaders from prominent companies in both the public and private sector gathered for a roundtable, hosted by Medallia, and in an open and frank discussion, shared the challenges they currently face in collecting and actioning effective employee feedback

Words by Kieran Howells

The session was co-hosted by Eleanor Telling, Director Professional Services at Medallia, and Karen Hackett, Head of People Experience at Permanent TSB.

Of the numerous valuable insights offered in the session, key takeaways from attendees sought to answer three key areas:

  • How employee listening has evolved beyond the annual survey
  • Capturing, and leveraging, the mass amounts of employee data at HR’s fingertips
  • Taking action to address new working models, talent shortages and burnout

Continuous understanding

The group discussed Medallia’s ‘continuous understanding’ approach, which effectively balances the ‘company view’ with the ‘employee view. The former is essentially what the company wants to ask the employee, through engagement surveys, quarterly pulses, ad hoc surveys,and journey moments.

The ‘employee view’, however, is focussed on personal moments. These surveys are triggered at critical times such as transfers, gaining new managers, colleague terminates and schedule changes. Medallia’s Eleanor Telling added that importantly, these surveys should be supported by organic feedback; this is the ability to provide feedback and ideas at any time.


A culture of listening

Karen Hackett, Head of People Experience at retail bank Permanent TSB, pulled from a wealth of internal experience, to inform the attendees about how PTSB successfully navigated organisational change with the help of Medallia’s platform, how it helped to drive greater understanding and, andsupported the company’s vision.

She outlined:

  • How PTSB transitioned to a culture of more regular listening –with the aid of continuous listening
  • Why evolving PTSB’s culture was a priority for the Board and its Executive Committee, given the key role culture plays in developing trustworthiness with all stakeholders, attracting and retaining talent and the successful execution of the business’ strategy.
  • The key links between employee experience and customer experience –an element that has ever been more essential in HR’s remit.

“We’re not shying away from feedback. I’m happy to tell our people what we can do, and equally what we can’t do, and why we can’t do it,” Hackett noted.

“I think that’s very important as ultimately, it mustline up with the strategic priorities of the bank. We’ll be honest and talk to our people about this. It helps people speak more freely –as you realise that the thing you’ve given feedback on is actually going to be received and discussed. It encourages more feedback.”


Annual vs pulse surveys

Other key points discussed included:

  • The format that PTSB uses to gain essential feedback, from short pulses to longer-form surveys
  • The ability for other team members to utilise the feedback received from staff;
  • Survey fatigue, and the concept of getting the information needed without overusing this tool.

Hackett told the group that PTSB found it effective to give its employees two weeks to respond to its annual surveys, with regular scheduled reminders in that time.

She also noted that pulse surveys are generally effective at finding those with issues that need to be addressed, rather than gaining a ‘whole company’ snapshot.

“There’s a feeling that, if you’re okay, maybe you don’t feel that you need to respond. That’s why it’s very important to get a good response rate on your annual survey, because most people who find that things are okay, will expect others to respond on their behalf,” she explained.

Survey fatigue

On the subject of survey fatigue, attendees were quick to offer up their own solutions to this issue, including being extremely careful about the number of questions asked, whilst others noted that, when employees see the outcomes of the company listening to feedback, they’ll be far more inclined to take part and contribute their insights.

You might be interested in a Thought Leadership report on Employee Experience Excellence, access it here.


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