Thomas Vollmoeller: „Employee feedback is incredibly helpful – you just have to engage with it”

  • Kateryna
  • June 19, 2018
  • 6 min

Those who want to collect feedback from employees on a regular basis need a software-based solution to complement the conversation with their staff.

In addition to visualizing company atmosphere, kununu engage now offers its feature Topics – a theme board that makes anonymously submitted suggestions, hints and ideas visible. Thomas Vollmoeller, CEO of the career portal XING, knows how companies can profit from this direct exchange.

interview thomas vollmoeller xing mitarbeiter feedback wichtig

Thomas Vollmoeller: “We want to have dialogues between supervisors and employees, dialogues at eye-level”

Mr Vollmoeller, how is the mood amongst the XING employees?
It’s very good! That’s partly because we have had a successful start into the year of 2018 and we maintain our momentum of growth. That puts everyone in a good mood. What also contributes to it is that we offer working conditions that allow for a high level of flexibility and room for personal development. On kununu.com, XING SE has a rating of 4.1 out of 5.0 points – that looks pretty good. Thanks to our weekly employee satisfaction survey, we know, beyond the numbers, pretty accurately which topics are a concern for our employees – and act accordingly.
What role does employee feedback play at XING?
Transparency is very important to us here at XING. We want to have dialogues between supervisors and employees, dialogues at eye-level, and therefore do without what in many businesses is considered “knowledge of authority”. For instance, we have made salary levels transparent and comparable to all employees. This makes the dialogue around performance and compensation more mature, substantial and honest. Overall, we put a lot of effort into making topics that are important to our employees an essential piece of our company culture. In order to understand what these topics are, it is crucial to gather feedback from employees on a frequent basis. Studies prove that a continuously nurtured exchange between managers and employees leads to an increase in engagement, a higher motivation among the employees and eventually a higher productivity of the entire company. We experience that as well. It is important however to be open-minded towards this feedback that you may not always like. But this is exactly what companies expect of their employees as well – to accept feedback. Those who aren’t willing to embrace it, will no longer receive any.
How does XING ensure that employees‘ concerns reach the management board?
Once a week, we invite all employees to provide anonymous feedback to us by filling out a software-based survey. At the end of the week, I take a stand regarding the feedback. But even beyond the tools we make sure that we are still easily approachable no matter how much we grow. The management board sits with and like everyone else at XING in our open-plan office. There is a paper sign dangling from my desk lamp that says “CEO” but that’s about the only thing that differentiates my desk from any other desk.
And why did you pick the online method?
The common practice of collecting employee feedback once a year and creating workshops that are then supposed to spend months solving issues that have long lost their relevance has simply not proven successful for us. As an online company we obviously count on digitalization: With the software-based feedback method, we give all employees of the XING family a direct and effective voice. This is how it works: Once a week our employees receive a reminder to anonymously share with us where they see problems or what’s been going exceptionally well for them. Every Friday afternoon the entire company meets for a virtual meeting and explicitly discusses those results from the employee survey that were voted for the most by the employees and are therefore considered most relevant.
To what extent does the leadership team benefit from this feedback?
They arrange for transparency. We know what moves the employees, what they appreciate, what they don’t understand, what they criticize. That’s how we avoid the proverbial ‘Ivory Tower’. Without beating around the bush, I find out what our colleagues believe is running smoothly around here and where they see room for improvement. What used to be discussed in the hallways and break rooms only is now transparent and visible to everyone – and I am able to deal with it in an active manner.
Should other employers follow the lead?
Definitely. In order to utilize feedback tools successfully though, there first needs to be the willingness to actually change something. If you don’t have that, not even the best of all tools will benefit you.
The interview conducted by Anne Juliane Wirth & Johannes Prueller


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