2016 Report: 360 Feedback Programs in Organizations

By Marcie Levine

Each year SurveyConnect collects and reports out on data that we hope is useful to our clients and friends. In 2016, as in previous years, we decided to focus our questions on the 360 process – how many employees are asked to participate and why, as well as what happens with the data once it is collected.

In this way we can understand the objectives and uses of the 360-degree feedback process at a point in time, and see how answers have changed over past years. 122 people responded to the questionnaire this year.

Section I: The Individual 360 Process

  • When asked “What is the primary purpose of your 360 program?” most respondents said that they consider the 360 program a development tool:
360 Programs in Organizations Results 2016 Table 1
  • 360s are split between voluntary (28%), required (36%) and a combination of purposes (36%) equally.
  • When asked “How often does 360-degree feedback get delivered in the following ways, the responses showed:
360 Programs in Organizations Results 2016 Table 2 test
  • Formal Action Planning:
    • Participants are generally asked to complete a Formal Action Plan – only 14% of respondents in 2016 said that participants are not asked to complete a plan.
    • Action Plans have varied effectiveness, with 9% saying that they are Highly Effective, and 0% saying they were Not Effective or Rarely Effective. 50% said that the plans are Usually Effective or Highly Effective, and 50% Sometimes Effective.
    • Comments from open-ended questions suggest:
      • Formal action plans are most effective if there is motivation from the participant and follow-up from both the participant and their manager
      • Accountability is key

Section II: 360s from an Organizational Point of View

  • 360 program feedback feed into other HR organizational programs (succession-planning, mentoring and/or talent management) in over 63% of respondent organizations.
  • Demographic or aggregate data is only used in about 44% of the organizations.
  • Sample comments from open-ended questions include:
    • When patterns are illuminated, we take note and are able to plan for what’s best for the organization overall and take measures to restructure/add responsibilities as identified/needed.
    • Identify where we may have opportunity to tap into strengths or close organization-wide gaps.
    • We’ve used the aggregate data and comments to define general session development for the cohort groups.
    • The 360 feedback is aggregated by the training dept to identify potential workshop topics and leadership programs.

Section III: 360s Going Forward

  • The number of participants going through a 360 process is anticipated to grow about 8% from 2015 to 2016, and then grow about 6% from 2016 to 2017. Our numbers have consistently showed continued growth in the 360 arena.


  • Organizations deploy 360s as a valuable tool for in-house analysis to understand current performance in important organizational competencies. They are also used to help participants increase strengths as well as improve performance in appropriate areas. The primary use of 360-degree feedback programs is for development purposes, and most organizations either request or require a Formal Action Plan. These Action Plans are most effective if there is motivation from the participant and follow-up from the participant, their manager, and the organization.
  • 360-degree program feedback is used in other HR organizational programs such as succession-planning, mentoring and/or talent management in a predominance of respondent organizations. While the 360-degree program strategy fits into the overall performance management of the organization on an individual level, there is more room for the analysis and use of 360-degree demographic data and trends to understand organizational issues, strengths and gaps.
  • When asked how 360s need to evolve to adapt to the changing work environment, the top three responses were:
    • Employees at all levels should receive this type of feedback, and
    • Shorter assessments on a more frequent basis need to be implemented,
    • Each participant should be able to personalize their assessment questions.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to talk about 360s or other employee surveys, please contact us.

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About the author

Marcie Levine

Marcie Levine

Prior to founding SurveyConnect, Marcie had more than twelve-years of experience in HR, both as a consultant and in several corporate positions. As an HR consultant, she worked on a variety of client assignments, including the design and implementation of surveys. She created SurveyConnect to streamline and simplify the process of survey creation and administration. Marcie has published articles about 360 feedback process in trade magazines, including the International Society for Performance Improvement, Selling Power, T+D Magazine, and Quirk’s Marketing Research Review.