A little more human

When I joined Typeform, we were a small group of people in a much smaller office. Back then, everything worked organically and feedback came naturally. We had company meetings every couple of weeks, and spontaneous get-togethers when needed.

Then everything changed.

In 2016, our team nearly tripled in size. So we moved to a much larger office, scattering people from the barception to the “swimming pool.”

More people meant more meetings and tighter deadlines. And this meant we could easily go a few days without interacting with people sitting in different spots. It happens when your headcount grows like this:

Growing employee headcount at Typeform

So we had a challenge: continue to grow while maintaining the culture of trust we’d worked so hard to nurture.

Our answer? Create a culture of continuous feedback.

We wanted to create a place where employee feedback is natural and ongoing—not just another box to tick.

We also knew that 40% of employees are actively disengaged at work because of inadequate feedback.

What about workers who receive feedback? They’re more motivated, more engaged, and less likely to quit. Plus, we wanted our people to grow as individuals, and the cornerstone of continuous learning is feedback.

So how did we get started? Here are the ten initiatives that helped us launch our employee feedback culture.

1. Encourage two-way feedback

They say that “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” So when our horizontal teams started gaining structure, we knew we needed a place for managers and team members to talk.

Our approach? Encourage managers to coordinate recurring 1:1 meetings with every person in their team. We didn’t set strict guidelines, we let things unfold naturally.

Two-way employee feedback at Typeform

Because the idea wasn’t to turn out status reports. The goal was to create a space where people could talk openly and honestly. Instead of focusing on projects and tasks, the emphasis was on each person’s challenges, goals, engagement, and career plan.

How often should people meet? We let the teams decide that too—whatever worked best for them. Usually, when things are going great, fewer meetings are needed. But if someone is underperforming, we encourage managers to commit to more regular meetings, ideally once a week.

These meetings are also designed to promote better ways of mentoring. A huge part of this was encouraging managers to listen.

This focus on reciprocal feedback has improved our team engagement. We’re now better able to detect issues of motivation, performance, and a lack of vision or higher purpose.

2. Show appreciation with Bonus.ly

How do you recognize people who go above and beyond? And the less-commonly asked: how can you encourage people to recognize coworkers who go out of their way?

Simple: you empower employees to hand out bonuses.

No, you don’t give out the keys to the cash box. You get started with Bonus.ly—a tool that lets employees give micro-bonuses using their very own currency. We call ours “typecoins.”

Every month, employees are given a set number of typecoins to distribute however they want. A coworker put in extra time to help someone finish a project? A team member delivered an amazing presentation? Toss them some typecoins.

Bonus.ly in action at Typeform:

Recognizing employee contributions at Typeform with Bonus.ly

People also use hashtags to promote company values: #seek_to_innovate, #practice_empathy, and #leave_space_for_fun. But of course, givers can add any hashtag they like: #vision, #creativity, #yourock, #I_owe_you_a_beer.

And what can people do with ther typecoins? Trade them in for credits on Amazon, PayPal, and lots of other things. Employees can even donate typecoins to charities or other causes of their choice.

In the end, it’s all about publicly recognizing our peers’ work and reinforcing the right values. This is even more important as we scale. It’s less about the typecoins given, and more about enabling people to applaud someone else’s valuable contribution.

3. Listen to the new hires

When you’re growing fast, it’s normal to look for ways to streamline things. But you should never cut corners with the care you give new hires.

Feedback started as a natural part of onboarding. We informally checked in with newbies as they transitioned to their teams. But after a while, we started embracing more standard feedback checkpoints.

Ever heard of a full month of employee onboarding? Here’s how we do it.

Now we have two meetings: one at six weeks, and one at the three-month point. Here, they’ll meet with their manager and their People Partner—the recruiter who was first in touch with them during the hiring process—who also becomes their main point of contact in the People Operations Team.

What do we talk about? Things like goals, expectations, and gaps we could help fill. And just like the manager meetings, we strive to make sure that feedback goes both ways. This way, our onboarding keeps improving too.

It’s also the perfect way to educate new people on our feedback culture, and to stimulate their hunger for feedback themselves. It’s part of our journey to democratize the concept of feedback, and it starts by making employee feedback a natural thing from day one.

4. Check in with employee engagement surveys

Remember what we said: 40% of employees feel underappreciated at work. This takes a huge swing at productivity.

So a couple times of year, we check in to see how happy and engaged our typeformers feel at work.

Of course we get the general vibe by asking questions like “How do you feel about coming to work every morning?” But we also dive into more touchy topics:

  • Does your manager inspire you?
  • Do you feel the company is going in the right direction?
  • Do you see a clear link between your work and the company’s goals?

But why does our employee engagement survey work so well? Because it’s honest, it’s conversational, and it lets people know how we’re using the results.

Here’s what it looks like, go ahead and give it a try:

 

We share all feedback with teams and managers, then work together to create strategies for improvement, bottom-up.

And now for the key: real improvements.

Overall satisfaction and engagement in more targeted areas have improved with every survey. All in all, people really appreciate that we take the time to find out what people think and feel.

5. Ask our cofounders anything

One big thing we learned through a previous engagement survey: we could improve how people perceived company leadership and how they communicated with the company. Our cofounder, Robert, put it this way:

Our approach? An “Ask Us Anything,” kind of like what you find on inbound.org. First, we presented the initiative, then Robert sent out a shared doc where people could add their questions.

And we got over six pages full of questions! So we had some serious answering to do.

Each question was replied to by the person with the most info on the topic. This way, all answers were as thorough and honest as possible. Then the doc was shared with the entire company. In the intro, our cofounders made it clear what feedback is all about. Here’s an excerpt:

A little while ago we asked everyone in the company to ask us any questions they’d like. There were some great questions, and it only strengthens our belief that communication is key in a fast-growing company like ours.

Will we always get it right? No, of course not. But as long as we all keep communicating, we think Typeform has a very bright future.

If you forgot to ask something, or weren’t with us when we sent this out, please remember that you can always come and tap us on the shoulder, send us an email, etc., whenever you like.

Our feedback on the initiative told us that people really appreciated this openness and transparency.

6. Drop thoughts in the suggestion box

People always have something to say. Sometimes they can’t wait to share thoughts and concerns in an engagement survey every three months, or until the next Ask Us Anything comes around.

We needed a fixed channel to address questions or suggestions on an ongoing basis.

Solution? We started off with a simple typeform where people could ask a question or leave a suggestion. But as much as we like digital, we thought “How cool it would be to have a physical thing gathering the suggestions, like an old-school suggestion box?”

And that’s when we came up with this:

Collecting employee feedback through digital suggestion box

Yup, that’s a typewriter hooked up to an iPad. When people pound the typewriter keys, it inputs comments rights into the iPad.

We’ve gathered hundreds of suggestions so far, and we’re constantly putting them into action. One of the first requests? Make it easier to send feedback from anywhere. So we’ve kept  as well. Can’t win ‘em all. 😉

7. Get the whole picture with 360 feedback

Does a single manager really know all there is to know about every person in their team? We weren’t sure. That’s why we decided to try a more holistic 360 feedback approach.

→ Not sure if 360 feedback is right for your team? Read this.

The questions are simple:

  • What has this person has done exceptionally well?
  • What’s at least one thing that they could improve?
  • Any other additional feedback that might be valuable?

We aim for a minimum of four people to complete the feedback for each person—including managers, peers, and a self-evaluation. People can leave their name or stay anonymous to allow truthful feedback to flow.

Once all the info is in, managers organize 1:1 meetings with every team member to discuss. The main goal: celebrate strengths, find places to improve, and outline steps to make it happen.

We do this every six months. But we don’t want this to be just another task. We’re aiming to make this even more frequent and relevant.

8. Collect feedback on feedback

What if we’re doing it all wrong? It’s definitely something we want to avoid. That’s why we sent out our .

Our main objectives:

  • Improve 360 feedback
  • Understand what people need to grow professionally
  • Find out how people feel about giving open feedback and why
  • Compare with last year’s results to see if we’ve made an impact
  • Adjust our training initiatives to provide better support

We’re constantly planning employee feedback initiatives, and we want to make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons. Besides, we figure we should be just as comfortable asking for and learning from feedback as everyone else.

9. Add a communication specialist

Without clear communication, feedback falls flat. Or worse, messages get crossed and meaning gets lost.

That’s why we hired Katie, our Internal Communications Specialist. She works with the leadership team to make sure that info flows in ways that everyone can understand.

She’s also cleaning up how we share information across the company. From helping to launch Notion as our intracompany wiki page, to taking and distributing minutes in assemblies and company meetings.

It’s all part of fostering a culture of feedback, communication, and trust.

10. Learn how to give and receive feedback

We’re not usually taught to give feedback, let alone receive it. That’s why we’ve recently started hosting Feedback Workshops. The objective:

  • Make giving and receiving constructive feedback easier
  • Increase the frequency and quality of feedback conversations
  • Promote feedback as part of a culture of trust and ownership

For some half-day sessions, we bring in an outside facilitator with international experience. DiSC-Bridge profiles have helped people understand that everyone is different in how they communicate and need to be supported.

Brenda, our Learning and Development Specialist, also runs frequent workshops called “The F-Word,” with different teams around the company. The big takeaway:

Are you ready to build a culture of employee feedback?

We all have things to learn and improve. That’s why Typeform is building a feedback-friendly company culture that’s meant to be transparent, rewarding, and constructive.

It helps team engagement, motivation, and development. Communication and collaboration improve too—and all this helps your business strategy and operations.

Thinking about creating an employee feedback culture at your company? You should! But remember that it’s an ongoing process that takes trust and education to implement.

Be clear about why you’re collecting feedback and what you plan to do with it. And once you’ve collected feedback, be honest and transparent with what you’ve learned.

It’s the only way that you’ll get people to trust the process and benefit from the results.