Blog Managing People

10 benefits of a weekly check-in

Ongoing two-way feedback isn't just nice to have. When it comes to engaging your people, it's downright essential. Sure, you could stick to your annual engagement surveys and performance reviews. You could keep stumbling along, blind to the preventable turnover and hamstrung productivity. Or you could let us tell you about the benefits of a weekly check-in for you and your people.

So, first off, what is an employee check-in all about?

At its simplest, a check-in is a virtual micro-survey designed to enable two-way feedback. The employee answers questions, usually focused on engagement, wellbeing and goal-tracking. Then, as manager, you review their update and respond to any of their answers as needed. It's a little bit like a pulse survey, except check-in questions are specific to the individual.

Every employee gets a digital check-in profile that's always available. And, because it's completely asynchronous, you never have to go to the trouble of setting up an appointment. Nothing is as frustrating as a new work tool that just gives you more hoops to jump through. That's why our asynchronous check-in is as light-touch and unobtrusive as possible.

What is an employee check-in supposed to look like?

Well, they're broken into two parts. The first is a series of five or six personalised questions. These look at how engaged an employee is, the state of their wellbeing, and whether there's anything blocking their performance. You can change these questions on the personal level as often as needed. Our algorithm will even make suggestions based on what works for similar organisations.

The second part is goal-tracking. You'll have the option of using SMART Goals or OKRs with your team. Both are very useful, but make sure you're using the right one for the circumstances.

When it comes to our check-in in particular, you have options for how you want to access it. You can log in through the browser, or our mobile app. Or you can even log in through our app on Microsoft Teams, which has full access to all our features.

Why a weekly check-in is good for your people

The most common argument we hear trotted out against weekly check-ins is that they're too much of a time commitment. But that couldn't be further from the truth. One of the main benefits of a weekly check-in is how quick they are. And we haven't even started listing benefits yet, so consider that a freebie.

It only takes about ten minutes for an employee to complete an update. Reviewing them is just as simple, taking only about five minutes per employee for an experienced manager. The only "difficult" part is personally responding to employee comments in a meaningful way. And you'll get the hang of that easy enough.

But the main reason check-ins ought to be weekly is that feedback is best when it's timely. You might remember what happened to you last week quite clearly. But what about the one before, or the one before that?

By having employees reflect on their performance and experiences each week, you strike while the iron is hot. If you want your people to critically apply your feedback, they need to get it while their memory is still fresh.

The benefits of a weekly check-in at work

1. Weekly feedback supports employee engagement

Touching base with people regularly helps to keep them focused. If you only get critical feedback once a year, it's easy to start coasting. After all, in the absence of information to the contrary, you can only assume you're doing alright.

But, when it's an ongoing conversation, it's easier for employees to stay motivated about their performance. Employees grow to anticipate their check-in each week. So they're always thinking about how to apply what they're learning. Plus, if something is interfering with their performance or wellbeing, they know they won't have to suffer in silence.

Gallup surveyed employees during the pandemic about the rates of feedback they received. Of employees who agreed they'd gotten meaningful feedback in the past week, 84% were engaged. Only 22% of all other employees had high engagement. 58% weren't engaged, and 19% were actively disengaged.

Weekly feedback also means these people were probably getting more recognition from their bosses. Feedback isn't just harsh criticism. Responding to check-in updates is the perfect time to congratulate someone on a job well-done. And speaking of recognition...

2. Weekly check-ins mean more peer recognition

Managerial recognition is an essential tool in your belt. In fact, praise from a manager can be a better motivator than waving money around. But peer recognition is even more important. So, why is that?

SHRM has found that peer recognition was 35.7% more likely to have a positive financial impact than manager-only recognition. Other research has shown that peer recognition can:

  • Increase employee engagement by up to 26%.
  • Improve company culture, according to 89% of employees.
  • Fosters social connection between employees (86%), and greater belonging to the business (81%).
  • Reduces the temptation of turnover, according to 75% of employees.
  • Improves peformance by encouraging innovation (33%) and increasing work results (22%).
  • Benefits wellbeing for 84% employees.

One of the major benefits of a weekly check-in is that the opportunity for peer recognition is baked right in. Recogniton questions are one of the major question types we offer through Weekly10. By asking your people who's gone above and beyond or been the most helpful, you give them a chance to pick their own MVPs.

3. Weekly goal updates curb the urge to micromanage

Managers have a lot of different factors to worry about. Especially in larger companies and teams. But keeping their team on the ball ranks more-or-less at the top. So, as you can imagine, it's essential to stay in the loop. Unfortunately, some bosses take this mentality too far and end up micromanaging their people.

It's an understandable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. And one that's usually associated with less-than-competent managers. But the goal-tracking side of an employee check-in can help you shake this bad habit.

One of the benefits of a weekly check-in is that you always know the next progress update is around the corner. If check-ins were monthly, it would be way too infrequent. Having them every week limits the need for ad-hoc progress updates, leaving more time for everyone to focus on their work.

4. Check-ins provide a real-time view of employee sentiment

In the same way a politician has to understand the will of the people to be re-elected, you've got to understand your people if you want them to stick around. But old-fashioned annual engagement surveys only offer a brief snapshot into employee sentiment.

That's one of the main reasons we created our weekly check-in to begin with. Employee sentiment and engagement can change drastically from one year to the next.

Even a monthly check-in wouldn't give you a real-time view of engagement. At the speeds of some work cultures, an awful lot can happen in a month. Checking in each week not only helps you track the changes, but also to understand the underlying reasons behind them. And, if you're familiar with sentiment analysis, then you know how important that is.

5: Regular check-ins appeal to Millennial and Gen Z employees

It's true that everyone can benefit from regular, ongoing feedback at work. But it's also true that younger employee demographics are spearheading the push for it. Gen Z, and to a lesser extent, Millennials, want much more regular feedback at work.

Previous generations have had their work experience defined by annual performance reviews. But Gen Z and Millennial staff make up an ever-larger percentage of the workforce each year. Employers need to prioritise employee education and ongoing feedback to recruit young talent. Fortunately, check-ins are the perfect tool to help.

And, if your people are especially eager, employees can even set up their own ad-hoc updates. That means they don't have to wait around to bring something urgent to your attention.

6. Goal-tracking creates accountability by setting expectations

Goal-tracking isn't just useful for keeping managers in the loop. One of the benefits of a weekly check-in is that regular goal-setting determines how your employees relate to their roles. Weekly goal tracking helps them to be more aware of their ongoing progress.

This helps both you and your staff to arrive at mutually understood expectations. As their manager, you'll get a sense of what they're capable of on the average week. If something changes, you can quickly follow it up with a one-to-one or an ad-hoc check-in.

In that sense, goal-tracking doubles as a barometer for spotting engagement or wellbeing issues. Check-in questions are a more direct way of addressing problems. But people aren't always willing to admit when something's wrong.

7. Checking in every week is the ultimate form of documentation

One of the main benefits of a weekly check-in is how it supports your existing feedback framework. It's not about replacing performance reviews. It's about making them fit for purpose.

Employees and leaders alike hate performance reviews for a myriad of reasons. But an awful lot of them relate back to a lack of effective documentation:

  • Employees dread not knowing how the review will go.
  • They worry their manager will overlook their accomplishments and hone in on their flaws.
  • Managers hate all the prep time that has to go into each review they run.
  • Traditional performance reviews actually make performance worse about a third of the time.

But here's where check-ins save the day. They serve as their own documentation, with every question having a full answer history. That way, no issue gets swept aside and forgotten about.

It's easy to review someone's check-in history leading up to their review. Employees can look back on it too, making it much more likely you'll be on the same page.

8. A good check-in supports employee wellbeing

Wellbeing has been a defining workplace issue for the past couple of years. But it's impossible to support employee wellbeing without good communication. Checking in every week is the ideal balance.

At least one or two of the questions on an employee's check-in should be wellbeing-related. Ideally, it should include at least an open-ended section where they can offer more detail. Check-ins are a way of giving your people a voice to raise issues. That way, you don't have to guess what your people want or need. They'll tell you.

9. A regular check-in can reduce turnover

A 2020 study found that 99% of employees would be less likely to leave an employer that both takes and acts on feedback. 67% said their employer was either "okay" or "horrible" at this. 82% either "somewhat" or "strongly" wished they got more recognition.

Our point being that a weekly check-in can really make a difference. Just make sure you follow through on any actionable insights. Otherwise it'll go nowhere and turn the whole check-in into a joke. That, in turn, will only make employee wellbeing worse.

10: Checking in regularly promotes honesty and openness

And here's our final point. One of the benefits of a weekly check-in that beats all other frequencies is that it builds dialogue.

When check-ins are less frequent, it's easy to forget about them the moment they're done. But, when they're weekly, they're part of your routine for that week. If there's something an employee wants to talk about, they'll start anticipating that weekly update.

The thing is, a lot of employees are cynical about getting asked for their opinion. Years of useless engagement surveys make any attempt come off as a box-ticking exercise. So, even with a great check-in, you might not get useful results immediately.

But the weekly frequency helps to break down everyone's walls. And, when you have the chance to follow through on actionable insight, it demonstrates to everyone that the process works.