Employee Engagement

Positive Employee Feedback: 22 Actionable Ideas & Examples

By
Nathan Ojaokomo

Table of Contents

In many organizations, feedback isn’t an employee’s favorite word. Rapid heartbeats, sweaty palms, and stomach clenches usually follow the word’s mention. However, feedback isn’t something to be feared — instead, it should be welcomed and even sought after.

However, for your employees to become unafraid of having feedback conversations, a considerable amount of work is required from managers, HR leaders, and the leadership team in general. 

In this post, we share 22 positive employee feedback examples and ideas you can use to give employees proper feedback. 

But first, 

What is Employee Feedback?

Employee feedback is formal or informal communication/advice, usually from leadership to employees concerning their skills, teamwork, and performance over a period of time. 

Although managers do most of the feedback, peers or co-workers can also give effective employee feedback.

Types of Employee Feedback

As you might have surmised, there are different types of employee feedback. Some schools of thought have up to ten types of feedback, but we believe that all of these types can be grouped into three main formats:

  • Appreciation
  • Coaching
  • Evaluation

Appreciation

This form of feedback focuses on recognizing and rewarding good behavior, work, and skills. It’s vital as it connects people and can spur them on to work even better. 

In addition, appreciation is crucial because it’s one of the vital factors for better performance. 

This form of feedback is the easiest to deliver for most managers — although you still need to work hard to give it out. It’s the most common as well, for when people say, “ I don’t get feedback at work,” what they’re often really saying is, “ I don’t get appreciated enough at work.”

Coaching

This feedback format involves assisting an employee in improving their skills, expanding their knowledge, and increasing their capabilities. 

A unique feature of coaching feedback is its ability to address the feelings of those involved, whether the manager, peer, or employee, thus strengthening workplace relationships. 

Also, it could be an amalgamation of appreciation and evaluation as it often involves regular reviews. 

Evaluation

This final type of feedback assesses a worker against a set of standards and is the scariest for most employees due to its formal nature. 

These three main types of feedback are valuable, and each has its place depending on the setting. However, as an HR leader or executive, you must understand which feedback you need to deliver if you want it to achieve the desired result. 

5 Benefits of Positive Employee Feedback

Giving proper feedback can improve work culture and opens the door to a lot of benefits. Here are just some of the biggest reasons why your company needs to incorporate a feedback culture:

1. It Makes Employees Better

In perhaps his most famous poem, Robert Burns said, “Oh, would some Power give us the gift, To see ourselves as others see us! It would from many a blunder free us, And foolish notion.” 

Feedback makes it possible for people to see themselves as others do. It offers an opportunity to see themselves in a new light and know how their behavior impacts the company. Therefore, give feedback that praises positive behavior while correcting negative behavior.

2. It’s Essential to Workplace Happiness 

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and that the work they do is noticed. When you give formal or informal feedback to your employees, you are, in effect, telling them, “I see you, and I value you.” Much has been made about the benefits of employee recognition, and feedback builds on these benefits. 

Even negative feedback is good as it can make people want to be better versions of themselves. 

3. Feedback Improves Employee Productivity

Feedback is critical to employee productivity as well. A study by Western Michigan University reveals that feedback can increase employee performance by up to 20% when done correctly. 

Another Gallup study also discovered that teams with feedback-focused managers produce 12.5% more than teams whose managers failed to provide feedback. 

4. Improves Employee Engagement

A Globoforce/SHRM report shows there is a clear relationship between employee engagement and feedback. According to the report, 89% of HR leaders agree that feedback is vital to the success of any organization. 

Furthermore, a whopping 98% of employees “fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback.’

Therefore, HR leaders must inculcate a culture of feedback in the workplace. 

Even if your workers don’t say it directly, they’re hungry for feedback. In addition, a significant part of today’s workforce is made up of Millenials and Gen Y who want regular feedback, whether positive or negative. Therefore, you must excel at feedback if you’re going to retain your best talent and keep them engaged. 

5. Feedback Improves Relationships

Another reason to invest in a feedback-rich culture is that it opens communication channels between peers. In addition, when there is a feedback channel, it’s easier for employees to resolve conflicts and reduce tension correctly in the workplace. 

With feedback, you can get any problems in the open so that you can resolve them. 

22 Positive Employee Feedback Ideas and Examples

Here are some great positive employee feedback examples and ideas you can use as a framework. Of course, you’d need to adjust the language to work for your specific circumstance.

What to say when:

1. An Employee Exhibits a Core Value

If your employee has exhibited a core value of your organization, for example, autonomy, you could say:

“You demonstrated great leadership qualities in our meeting earlier today. You're such a great example to me of humility and servant leadership which is also one of our company's core values. ”

2. Someone Goes Above and Beyond

Other than their responsibilities, perhaps a worker has done some extra activities that boost morale. For example, you could give positive feedback by saying:

Hi, Nathan! Excellent work at going the extra mile for your colleagues. Everyone had so much fun at the event you organized. If you ever need assistance with any events in the future, I would be glad to help.” 

3. Someone Puts Their Team Above Self

Selflessness should be encouraged, so if an employee puts the team above themself, you should give them positive feedback. An example of what you could say is:

“Something I appreciate about you, Marie, is how you look for ways to help others. For example, last week, I observed how you assisted Tom to get his proposal finished quickly, even though it took some of your time. You are an inspiration to the rest of the team.”

4. An Employee Works Hard

Although results are fantastic, you should recognize hard work and effort too. A positive feedback example that could help a hardworking employee feel motivated to keep up the excellent work is:

“You worked hard to land us this client, and your efforts bore fruit. I appreciate your focus and grit in going above and beyond, managing the complex project, and helping the team met our goals.”

5. Someone Displays Their Problem-solving Skills

An ability to solve problems is one of the most sought-after skills anyone could have. To that end, encourage workers that display this quality by saying something like:

“That last project was quite tough, wasn’t it? Yet, you managed to help us out. It shows you are committed to the clients and team, and I appreciate it very much.”

6. Commending Employees Who Communicate Well

Every successful company needs workers that are great at conversation. Reinforcing good communication skills will spur workers to do even better in the future. You could say, as an example:

“I love how you used that software to keep me in the loop concerning your project this week. It saved plenty of time and made it easier for me to communicate and coordinate with the stakeholders on this project. Thanks to you, we are on track to complete it in record time. I’m pretty impressed by your efficiency and communication.”

7. Expressing Delight When Peers Hit Goals or Milestones

It’s only suitable to reward employees for meeting a goal. However, whether you assisted them in reaching the plan or not, a little positive feedback can go a long way in making them better employees. Here’s an example of positive feedback that you could give:

“I am so happy that you met your weekly target of two new clients. I know that it wasn’t easy. However, I particularly liked how you systematically worked towards achieving this goal. I’m sure it’ll make a big impact on our business in the coming months. Thank you.”

8. Employees Participate in Company Initiatives

Giving feedback for employee participation in optional company programs is one way to get them involved in future challenges and events. For example, if your staff has participated in such an event, you could say:

“I’m glad that you participated in this challenge. Not only will it benefit you, but your participation will also make this company better.”

9. Co-Workers Help Others

Waiting for a formal appraisal before doling out praise in the form of positive feedback can be detrimental to your employee’s engagement. Instead, give them feedback promptly and keep them strong by saying:

“I know that Stacy met her deadline because you helped her out. I appreciate you, and I want you to know that I value the support that you gave. Thank you for carving out the time to lend her assistance.”

10. Peers Collaborate Well With Others

If your employee had to work with others on a project, here’s what you can say:

“I’ve seen that you have an ability to work with different people regardless of their department. This is a strength that isn’t in everyone’s locker. I’m impressed by it, and I just want to tell you to keep up the good work.”

11. Co-Workers Resolve Conflicts

Conflicts are bound to arise in the workplace. Therefore, employees that can resolve disputes are invaluable to your organization. Show them value by saying something like:

“You were great at resolving that conflict between you and Toby earlier today. If not for you, it could have been quite unpleasant. Thank you for your help.”

12. Employees Set a Great Example

If a worker motivates others to follow their good example, they deserve positive feedback. You could tell them:

“Matt told me that he’s using the new employee recognition software based on your recommendation. Thank you for supporting this new development and setting such a good example for others to follow.”

13. People Take on New Roles

Workers that have taken up new assignments or roles in the organization need to know whether they’re doing a great job or not. If they are, one way to let them know is to say:

“We are convinced we made the correct decision in promoting you to this new role. You’ve justified our trust in your abilities. You have been great at fixing the issue we had with sales. Keep up the good work.”

14. Staff Make Customers Happy

Happy customers lead to more business. If an employee is especially proving helpful, positive feedback is a sure-fire way to boost their morale and productivity. Here’s something to say:

“You’re one of the best salespeople that we have here. You are passionate about the customers, and they are delighted with your efforts. I love working with you as your passion and enthusiasm rub off on me. I’m glad customers see how great you are at this.”

15. An Employee Develop New Skills

Employees that seek to develop themselves should be encouraged. For example, give positive feedback like this:

“Not everyone is willing or able to learn this new skill you’ve acquired. However, it’s fantastic to see your commitment and effort to learning new ways to be better. You’re inspiring others as well. I can’t wait to see how this new skill helps you and the organization in the coming months.”

16. An Employee Shares a Good Idea

Perhaps your worker came up with an excellent idea at the last meeting. You could say to them:

“Yesterday, you proposed certain changes to this project, and I think those ideas are great. They should breathe new life into the project and provide better results. Your thinking outside-the-box is appreciated.”

17. An Employee Has an Excellent Attendance Record

Always look for ways to give praise — even if it’s for something as simple as an excellent attendance record. Say to them:

“Your daily presence at the office is much appreciated. You are like a fresh breeze on a hot day because of your enthusiasm and passion for work. Thank you for always being there.”

18. Co-workers are Responding to a Change

A change in management, systems, software, or something else isn’t easy. You can help your employees by giving positive feedback amid this change by saying:

“I know these last few weeks haven’t been easy. However, you have been mature and calm in your handling of the new situation. Your calmness has had a good effect on others as well. I appreciate your influence.”

19. Employees Have Been Working Overtime

While working overtime means they’ll get paid more, it’s still nice to take time to praise your workers for their extra efforts. The positive feedback you could give:

“Thanks for the extra shifts this week. I know that staying overtime isn’t fun, but I appreciate you for it. Your positive attitude in these busy times is not unnoticed.”

20. An Employee Shows Exemplary Qualities

If your staff shows good qualities that tie to organizational values, then you should speak up. Say to them:

“I observed how you were patient, resourceful, and understanding while dealing with client X. These are values that we appreciate here, and we appreciate your work.”

21. Peers Take Initiative

Employees that can drive things on their own are valuable parts of any organization. So if you have such a worker, here’s something you could say:

“I was impressed by the initiative you demonstrated by reaching out to that supplier even before I told you to. It really saved us time and money. Well done, mate.”

22. Employees Receive Praise

Amplifying the praise an employee received from someone else ensures that they hear the good things others say about them. 

“Derek just told me how interesting it is to work with you. Thank you for your positivity in the office. People notice it and love you for it.”

Modify these good examples of feedback to employees and enjoy a vibrant, friendly, and productive workplace.

Principles of Effective Positive Employee Feedback

Let’s now consider vital principles that can guide you when you want to give such feedback. 

Be Specific

Being specific is the opposite of being vague and leaving people wondering, “Am I doing good or bad? How should I use this information I’ve been given?”

If it’s not specific, your staff won’t know which of their skills are tremendous or need improvement. 

To this end, ensure you tell them precisely what you love about their work. 

We love the LifeLabs playing cards analogy for what constitutes specific positive feedback vs. vague feedback. 

Be Prompt

The recency effect is one of the problems with quarterly or annual reviews—employee engagement peaks when you give real-time feedback. 

If you wait for a relatively long time before giving feedback, it won’t have the desired effect anymore and might cause several problems that could have been dealt with if addressed earlier. 

Using an employee recognition platform like Nectar facilitates frequent, positive feedback that benefits your organization and employees alike. 

Make Feedback Actionable

Making feedback actionable is particularly important when giving constructive feedback. Your counsel should include specific ways the staff can improve. Ensure your feedback is future-focused and offers a solution instead of just being provided for the sake of saying something.

For example, you could say, “You handled that last project very well despite the challenges involved. Did you see how I used the Kanban board to keep everything organized? I’d love you to use the same method for our future projects.”

Be Sincere

People can tell when you’re insincere with your comments or feedback. If you have a habit of giving phony feedback, your people will notice, and your words won’t carry weight any longer.  Honest feedback is the best policy. 

The Sandwich technique is a widespread technique some HR leaders use to give feedback. In this technique, corrective feedback is placed in the middle of two pieces of positive feedback. It sounds great in theory, but in real life, it’s dangerous. 

For example, how’d you feel if your manager said this to you: “The last meeting you organized was productive. But did you notice that it was rather disorganized because you didn’t distribute the agenda before the meeting? How do you think you could improve? Nevertheless, you’re doing well in gathering information and circulating the minutes of the meeting.”

I bet you’d be confused and wonder whether you’re doing a good job or not if you received this type of feedback.

As a manager, avoid this type of feedback because it is confusing, and some might even find it deceitful.  If your feedback is constructive, accentuate the criticism so that your primary objective of helping your employee isn’t lost in the “sugar-coating.”

Practice What You Preach

Actions speak louder than words, and this is true for feedback. 

It’s always best to practice what you’re encouraging others to do. If you have the same faults, you’ll simply come off as being insincere. 

Watch Your Tone

In many cases, what you say doesn’t have as much of an effect as how you say it — thus, your feedback should be kind and empathetic.

When giving constructive feedback, for example, avoid using solely negative language to pass your point. 

Exclusively using negative language will accomplish one of two things:

  • It’ll probably result in employees ignoring your feedback, or 
  • It could embarrass/hurt them and cause them to focus on how you delivered the message.

Elena, Organizational Development Specialist at Mirro suggests, “thinking about how the other person would feel if they received that feedback, before giving it.”

Make Achievements Public

Unless the employee wishes otherwise, it’s excellent to make positive feedback public — as it boosts morale and improves employee happiness, whether you give it informally or formally. 

You can use software like Nectar to recognize an employee’s good work. 

On the other hand, negative feedback is best given in private. 

How to create a Feedback Culture in Your Company

As we’ve seen, giving feedback is beneficial, both to your employees and your organization. So how can you create a culture of feedback at work? Here are five tips that can help you:

1. Talk About the Type of Feedback Culture You Want

CareerLife’s Yewande Jinadu recommends that you “enlighten them (employees) on the essence and importance of feedback” if you want to build the proper feedback culture in your organization.

To that end, you need to explain that you want it as part of your company’s day-to-day operations. When positive feedback occurs monthly or even weekly, it becomes a welcome event in the lives of your employees.

2. Build Systems for Giving Feedback

Talking about the need to exchange feedback in your company would only have the desired effect when you set systems in place to give and receive feedback daily. 

Aderonke Salami, an HR consultant,  recommends conducting employee engagement surveys on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.

Another suggestion is to use some time in your weekly check-ins for feedback by adding it to the meeting agenda. You could also introduce recognition software that makes it easier to give feedback. 

3. Lead by Example

You shouldn’t expect your employees to welcome feedback if they don’t see you leading by example. Therefore, ask for feedback often, in full view of employees, and thank people for it — even if you don’t entirely agree with said feedback. 

4. Let Positive Feedback Outweigh Negative Feedback

It’s challenging to build a feedback culture if your work environment is hostile and breeds negative feedback. On the other hand, your employees are likely to be more receptive to changing lousy behavior if they see you notice good behavior as well. 

Use the principles we’ve talked about and the examples we’ll provide later to frame positive feedback. 

5. Build Relationships

It’s easier to give and receive feedback if it’s coming from someone you have a good relationship with. Thus, take the time to build human connections with your employees, showing that you care about them as people and not just workers. 

6. Listen

With so many things happening every day at a workplace, employees and managers barely take out to listen. To build a positive feedback culture, you need to listen to what your co-workers and employees say with an open mind. 

Michelle Cahill, a former Shift Lead at Instacart, was able to raise her store position from last to second in her district (behind the biggest store in the country). What does she say contributed to her team’s success?

“I listened to my team and believed them when they told me why they were struggling. I saw their (co-workers) feedback as valuable and shared it with new hires as tips to success. I empowered my team and listened to their feedback with an open mind. Because of this, they felt better sharing their thoughts and were more receptive to my feedback because it was always framed in building them up, not tearing them down.”

Final Thoughts

It’s vital to have feedback sessions with your employees regularly to help them improve as workers. Giving feedback doesn’t have to be scary, as long as we begin to see it as the gift that it is. When done correctly, it can build strengths and help employees develop skills. 

The positive employee feedback examples and ideas that we’ve provided can assist you in delivering feedback more effectively and building beautiful, high-performing culture.

Actionable workplace tips & insights for fellow people lovers

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