Boundmakers Review
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Boundmakers Review

How can immediate and personalised feedback boost health promotion?

Feedback is a health protector when performed constructively, fairly, and applied to the real context people are experiencing at work. While typically defined as part of the learning and development process, feedback’s impact goes beyond improving employee’s performance. Good practice states that when delivering feedback leadership should avoid just telling an employee something vague and unspecific, or just focusing on what is wrong or right without concrete examples or actions suggested. Feedback should also always provide support and confidence in the individual to manage their own work and development process.

Evidence shows that feedback itself is a concrete stress buffer, presented as a sign of appreciation for the employee’s efforts and competence, it can boost intrinsic motivation to continue delivering value to the organisation and attenuate the impact of stress risks. On the other hand, feedback should encompass the various components of the job, focusing not only on the technical and outputs aspects, but also fostering employee’s health literacy and effective well-being promotion at the workplace.

How to implement healthy feedback in an organizational setting?

Aligned with best practice, feedback should be constructive, practical, and objective. If possible, referring to practical cases, showing possible consequences of that strategy or approach, and sharing previous experiences (e.g., impact of working without breaks). Encouraging risk prevention, maintaining empathetic communication, showing willingness to help and listen are also essential aspects of a healthy feedback.

Additionally, teams should create safe space and foster discussion and dialogue about the benefits of a preventive health stance in a work setting and encourage all members to share their health promotion strategies with others. Colleagues can really provide excellent feedback to each other and support this constructive change in behaviour.

Also, adapting feedback to each individual or team can be explored by tailored feedback. Tailored feedback follows a preventive way of communication, primarily focused on an individual, and with a clear goal of health promotion. This occurs because this approach makes it possible to identify core issues (i.e., stress factors or stress mitigators) and provide necessary feedback according to individual needs (e.g., health risk level), while also giving content and tools to set goals and consequently change behaviours and impact the current health status.

Tailored feedback could be delivered using web-based systems, a mobile app, in-person or even printed materials. All of them are effective and each team/organisation needs to understand what fits better with each specific audience, some of these tools could prove to be inadequate in some settings. It is important to give tailored feedback with some consistency and frequency to make it effective. One of the strategies could be to implement more than one session to deliver feedback, which means multiple sessions depending on the needs of the individual or team. Tailored feedback is also a good way to mitigate psychosocial risks in the organisation, since it allows to identify and manage the risk immediately, contributing for positive and autonomous healthy behaviours at the workplace.

There are several types of tailored feedback. A general one, that has in consideration more generic information (e.g., the type of organisation) as well as the individuals health characteristics (e.g., considering the psychosocial risk level). Other levels are more specific and have in consideration the individual aspects of each person, where it is crucial to consider the previous individual assessment. Additionally, this information should be collected using the same technique as used to measure the health characteristics and perceptions, since it simplifies the process. One more aspect is that tailored feedback makes it possible to compare the individual perception and performance over time, and compare it with others (internal and external benchmark).

Employees understand and remember better tailored messages, so there are some aspects that need to be considered when designing and applying tailored feedback: (1) Assessment techniques, understanding what is more effective in each organisational context, using a survey or interviews, for example; (2) How to provide tailored feedback, checking for different options and the organisation needs, resources and specific context; (3) Content of feedback, it is important that feedback has a rich and interactive content and be perceived as useful and digestible by the receiver; (4) The number of times that feedback is given, evidence shows that it should be delivered regularly and immediately after the screening.

Using tailored feedback will clearly contribute to learning, behaviour change, job skills development and to clear communication and proactive health promotion within an organisation. Giving individuals and teams access to tools and systems that deliver tailored feedback, in a continuous flow, can increase their focus, curiosity and attention to these issues almost daily at work. With this approach in mind organisations can clearly upgrade the typical and most common approach to deliver standard and general feedback concerning health and well-being issues at the workplace.

To sum up, these are some concrete actions that can help you as a manager when delivering health promoting feedback to your team:

References

DiClemente, C. C., Marinilli, A. S., Singh, M., & Bellino, L. E. (2001). The role of feedback in the process of health behavior change. American Journal of Health Behavior, 25(3), 217–227.

Feedback isn’t enough to help your employees grow. (2021, December 10). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/12/feedback-isnt-enough-to-help-your-employees-grow

Harvard Business Review [HBR]. (2007). Giving feedback: Expert solutions to everyday challenges (Illustrated ed.). Harvard Business Review Press.

Ryan, P., & Lauver, D. R. (2002). The efficacy of tailored interventions. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 34(4), 331–337

Mertens, S., Schollaert, E., & Anseel, F. (2021). How much feedback do employees need? A field study of absolute feedback frequency reports and performance. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 29(3–4), 326–335. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijsa.12352

UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. (2008). Tailored feedback. Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation.

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Liliana Dias

Women, Mother, Doer, Student, Circler, Traveler, Book Addict and an engaged Citizen of the World! https://linktr.ee/qinzedias