Study: Feedback culture at work: Does the boss even listen to criticism?

A good feedback culture is something that modern employers like to take on board.

Study: Feedback culture at work: Does the boss even listen to criticism?

A good feedback culture is something that modern employers like to take on board. This usually means a trusting and constructive exchange between superiors and employees. What's going well? What could be better? Some companies also use questionnaires to capture an anonymous picture of the mood.

But how well does giving and receiving feedback work in practice? This is what employees reported to the market research institute Bilendi as part of a survey for the management consultancy Cubia. Result: Employers are significantly better at sending criticism than they are at accepting criticism. At least that's how the more than 1,000 employees surveyed online feel.

The importance of both aspects for the working atmosphere should not be underestimated. 82 percent of employees say that it is significant for their satisfaction with their employer (very important, important or somewhat important) to receive regular feedback on their work from a manager. The number of people who can do without feedback on their work is correspondingly small.

Most of those surveyed (around 80 percent) also have their request for feedback fulfilled, academics slightly more often than employees with lower qualifications. And the quality of the feedback is often good: the majority of those surveyed find the feedback to be balanced (70 percent), specific (69 percent) and timely to the occasion (64 percent). In addition, 63 percent say that the points raised by their superiors were actually feasible. The bottom line is that many managers are obviously doing a good job here.


Completely/mostly true

The feedback was balanced.

70 percent

The feedback was specific.

69 percent

The feedback was provided promptly on the occasion.

64 percent

The feedback was actionable.

63 percent

However, feedback at work shouldn’t be a one-way street. 89 percent of employees want their opinion on possible improvements in the workplace to be heard regularly (very important, important or somewhat important). This is unimportant or irrelevant to almost no one.

However, from the employees’ point of view, this doesn’t really work out well. At least 70 percent have actually taken part in systematic feedback discussions or surveys. But did the bosses actually want to hear the criticism from their subordinates?

Employees are often less satisfied with what follows the feedback rounds. Only 37 percent report that the feedback has resulted in “improvements in my immediate work environment” and only 34 percent see “noticeable effects on the company”. Only a minority of 44 percent of employees received feedback on suggestions and only 43 percent think that personally important topics were even asked about.


Completely/mostly true

My feedback had a noticeable impact on the company.

34 percent

My feedback resulted in improvements in my immediate work environment.

37 percent

The topics that were, in my opinion, important were asked.

43 percent

There was a response to my feedback from the organization.

44 percent

Of course, it can be argued that employee surveys are not a wish-list exercise. Nevertheless, the authors of the study see potential for improvement among employers. “Feedback must not be routine from management literature, but must be a real concern that is well prepared and followed up,” write the human resources experts at Cubia in the survey paper.

Companies must give their managers the chance to actually work and improve processes with legitimate feedback. "Leaders at lower levels are often not taken seriously enough and are able to achieve less, which increases the frustration of leaders and followers at the lower levels of organizations."