Of all the mobile apps developed that impact human resources departments, the ones that have potential to reinvent standard HR protocols are the feedback apps.

Somehow these apps are starting to take over everything from the ingrained performance review processes to the informal suggestion box to the employee-of-the-month club.

Once considered fads, they are now established in hundreds of companies as a way employees can anonymously rate their bosses, praise or complain about their co-workers, offer health and safety suggestions, and point out inefficiencies and inadequacies of the company. Used for purposes other than anonymous commenting, feedback apps are also used for better and more effective collaboration initiatives amongst colleagues and team members.

In the best instances they are vehicles of employee engagement and growth and development; in the worst cases they are fans of negativity churning out vitriol and mistrust.

The four key advantages of incorporating feedback apps into your HR process are:

  1. It promotes engagement. If you provide an app, sooner or later people will use it.
  2. Apps are designed to provide anonymity, they give your department and managers unfiltered information.
  3. The social recognition component where employees can give feedback to each other can help management uncover hidden diamonds in the workforce whose contribution far exceeds “just doing their job.”
  4. It can make your company better, but only if you listen.

So what should you look for when you decide to add feedback apps to your HR process?

First and foremost, regardless of what app you add, make sure that there is a procedure in place for using it. Make it clear right from the start that while fair and open comment is welcomed, this is not a place for slander of others or inappropriate comments. Take a page out of the Netflix notebook, for example, where employees are advised they should not say anything online that they wouldn’t say in person.

Secondly, find ways to show in practical terms that online feedback is being listened to and acted upon. For example, if you add the app Waggl.it to gather feedback on your meetings, and the feedback indicates most participants were unimpressed, start the next meeting by announcing some changes to make the meeting more efficient, and attribute the changes to feedback received.

Look for feedback apps that will take you beyond the obvious. Not everyone wants to tell you why they feel upset at work, but this is information you need to know. So look at an app like Thymometrics that allows you to check in on the mood of your team.

Feedback apps like Boost HQ, allows you to share informal documents in your channels, and then receive feedback and social proof from your team members to see if the information you are sharing is being thought of as useful.

In other communication initiatives with your staff, implant the idea that effective feedback should focus not just on judgment (of the company, its managers, its processes, etc.), but more on development and proposed action.

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