When weekly conversations work best

For Culture or Employee Experience feedback programs we strongly recommend weekly conversations. Here's why...

We often get asked about our approach to weekly conversations, and if it's possible to use Joyous with different frequency configurations. The most common alternatives we get asked about are:

  • Bi-weekly conversations with 1 topic
  • Bi-weekly conversations with 2 topics each time

This article explains why lower frequency options like these don't work as well.

Note: This article focuses on general Culture / Employee Experience feedback programs through Joyous. See below for information about frequency with other feedback use cases.

Opportunities for change

Weekly conversations give you regular opportunities for change on a different topic each time.

If you reduce the frequency to bi-weekly, you reduce the number of topics you can cover in a year by half.

This means you will miss out on important conversations that could significantly help improve the working lives of your team members, and considerably reduces the value you can get out of Joyous.

Focused conversations

Weekly conversations allow both team members and leaders to focus on 1 topic at a time in natural conversations that are easy to follow.

If you reduce the frequency to bi-weekly and include 2 topics each time, you create conversations that are difficult to navigate and drive less action.

In conversations with 2 topics, our data shows that team members participate in the 2nd topic on average 33% less than the 1st topic.

Responding for leaders also becomes mentally taxing as they need to figure out how to address 2 topics at once. As a result, most leaders choose to focus only on 1 topic in the conversation. In addition, leaders may have to handle context switching if they are focusing on different topics with different team members.

This means that each year half of your topics receive less attention than they should. Conversations with 2 topics break the conversational flow, making it difficult to focus and less likely for actionable feedback to result from either topic.

Participation

Organizations who change from weekly to bi-weekly do not see an increase in their overall participation rates.

Those who opt for 2 topics see a reduction in response rate to the 2nd topic each time.

Those who opt for 1 topic each time reduce the number of topics they can cover in a year for no gain in overall response rate, which results in less feedback gathered overall.

When less regular surveys work better

There are some cases where less regular surveys are more appropriate, such as gathering demographic data, and quarterly or annual assessments. These cases are not conversational, so it's OK to have reduced frequency and multiple topics.

But for regular conversations between team members and leaders that spark action through an open feedback culture, weekly conversations with 1 topic at a time are best.

Conclusion

For regular Culture and Employee Engagement feedback programs, weekly conversations present the best opportunities for your team members and leaders to have focused conversations that can spark action.

Other frequency configurations such as bi-weekly have significant downsides that reduce the quality of feedback, and make it more difficulty for both team members and leaders to have open conversations.

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I think our participation is lower than it could be, is weekly too frequent?

A: Giving people even fewer opportunities to participate is not going to help improve participation. Say, for example, your current participation is at around 50% with 50 conversation starters per year. Switching from weekly to fortnightly will likely result in the same per conversation response rate and you'll now have 50% participation in 25 conversation starters per year. Meaning that effectively you now have half of the participation due to halving the opportunities to participate from the original weekly cadence.

Q: People are saying weekly is too frequent, can we change?

A: Remind your team members that Joyous conversations are optional, and they only have to participate if they have something important or relevant to say about the week's topic.

Q: What can I do to improve participation besides changing the frequency of conversations?

A: The biggest influences on participation in Joyous are leader engagement and topic relevance.

Team members are more likely to participate each week if they know their leaders are responsive, and that someone who can take action is listening. If leaders are not responsive, team members are more likely to feel ignored and will stop participating. If you think your leaders need some assistance in being more responsive, Joyous offers leader power-up sessions to go over best practices for responding to feedback. Get in touch with us about booking one for your teams.

Because Joyous questions are optional, team members often only respond to topics where they have something to say. If your leaders are good at responding but you still want to improve your participation, get in touch with us to review the topics in your campaign, and we see if there might be more relevant or engaging topics that could be used instead.

Q: Can we try bi-weekly and see how it goes?

A: We'll be honest: all organizations who have done this regretted it. Once you set the expectation of a reduced frequency, it is much more difficult operationally to increase it when you see that it doesn't work out (which is what will likely happen). Whether you start with weekly conversations and try change to bi-weekly, or you go with bi-weekly from the beginning, changing back to weekly will reduce the overall confidence in your feedback program.