Employee voice: how listening will help you build culture and win the war for talent

Organizations are looking for ways to engage and retain their best staff in the face of the Great Resignation. Here's why listening could be the key to success.

EMPLOYEE ENAGAGEMENT | 6 MINUTE READ

The pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in employee priorities. Promotions, career opportunities and proximity to the office now outweigh things like safety, security, and workplace flexibility. It’s time for organizations to change their approach to employee engagement, wellbeing and retention – and it all starts with employee voice.

In this video, Dan Schawbel, New York Times bestselling author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, offers his expertise on the importance of employee voice and discusses how leaders and managers can work together to create an organizational culture of safety and trust. Have a watch.

What is employee voice?

What is employee voice?

Employee voice is all about giving employees the space and opportunity to communicate how they feel about their workplace and what’s happening there. Encouraging employee voice is vital in building open and trusting relationships between employees, leaders and managers, and helping employees feel valued.

But it doesn’t stop there. As well as listening to employees, organizations must make a further commitment to act on employee concerns. Without this practical step, employees will continue to feel unheard and undervalued.

“We need to not only listen to what they’re saying, but actually take action,” said Dan in his discussion with Abby Guthkelch, Head of Global Executive Solutions at Workplace from Meta.

“And if you can’t do something about it, you need to be transparent about why you can’t do those things. That’s really powerful because, of course, you can’t do everything, but that sort of transparency and communication is really important in building trust.”

Learn to transform Employee Experience

Download our guide and start making Employee Experience your back-to-work business priority.

Why is employee voice important?

Why is employee voice important?

Employee voice is a critical factor that feeds into employee experience and wellbeing, engagement and even staff retention - if people feel listened to in an organization, they’re more likely to want to stay.

Dan says: “We have to start treating employees like humans first over workers, because that’s how we’ll be able to maximize our talent, retain talent and have a healthier workplace environment as a whole.”

Here are just some of the ways capturing and responding to employee voice could benefit employees and your organization:

  • Greater job satisfaction

    Employees in the UK with a very high sense of belonging (96%) are significantly more likely to feel heard than those with a very low sense of belonging (14%). Helping employees feel valued in the workplace boosts morale, encourages positive interactions and increases overall job satisfaction.

  • Creating a positive culture built on trust

    In today’s uncertain world, it’s essential that your employees feel able to place their trust in the organization, their managers and their leaders. Communication involving open dialogue is key to building trust. Consistent and transparent communication won’t only help employees feel heard but will give them more confidence that your organization has their best interests at heart.

  • Feeding into innovation

    Innovation is crucial to the success of any organization. But for innovation to be truly successful, it’s important to inform your decisions using employee voice and ideas that fit with a set of shared values. Making sure this happens will make employees feel more committed to their role and make them want to stay in your organization for the long term.

  • Improving employee retention

    Employees are far less likely to leave a company where they feel their voice is valued. According to findings by TINYpulse, employees who don’t feel comfortable providing upward feedback are 16% less likely to stay in their organization.1 Encouraging employees to share their thoughts and ideas regularly will show that their opinions matter, improving feelings of recognition and increasing employee retention.

Employee voice and employee engagement

Employee voice and employee engagement

Employee voice is a key enabler of employee engagement. According to UKG and Workplace Intelligence research, highly engaged employees are three times more likely to say they feel heard at their workplace (92%) than highly disengaged employees (just 30%). But what’s the link, and why is employee engagement so important?

An engaged workforce brings many benefits to employers, including better employee retention and increased productivity. And that's good for people and good for the bottom line. In a survey of over 23,000 business units, Gallup found that a highly engaged workforce with scores in the highest quartile was 18% more productive than those in the lowest quartile.

Employee voice can also help strengthen company resilience. Employees who feel they have an outlet for their concerns are more likely to handle periods of pressure or internal changes within an organization than those who don't feel able to express their voice.

Employee voice can also help strengthen company resilience. Employees who feel they have an outlet for their concerns are more likely to handle periods of pressure or internal changes within an organization than those who don't feel able to express their voice.

alttext

How do you capture employee voice?

How to capture employee voice

How to capture employee voice

It's important to capture individual and group conversations qualitatively and quantitatively to get a proper sense of employee voice across your organization. Here are just some of the different ways you could encourage and engage with employee voice both on a 1-1 and wider company level:

Pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are short surveys with a standard set of questions that you can send out to employees periodically. They can help organizations monitor employee views over time, helping them see which areas are improving and which might need a different approach.

Collaboration tools

Team collaboration tools that allow you to meet, message, call and collate information in one app can offer an ideal space for employees to communicate with managers and leaders in a way that feels secure. It can also allow important conversations to happen from anywhere, ensuring that employees can speak up when something is on their mind, wherever they are and wherever they're working.

1-1 check-ins

Some people may feel uncomfortable voicing their feedback or concerns in wider group discussions. Regular 1-1 check-ins between employees and managers ensure that everyone has the dedicated time and space to make their feelings heard in a more personal way. This feedback can then be acted on or escalated by line-managers to feed into the broader conversation.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing asks employees to offer up opinions, information or work to help organizations better understand their workforce from a grassroots level. A great example of crowdsourcing would be setting up a volunteer group to help address a particular issue already identified through surveys or other discussions. This group could then work collaboratively to help the organization reach a solution based on employee voice.

“We have to start treating employees like humans first over workers, because that’s how we’ll be able to maximize our talent.”

6 ways to make the most of employee voice

6 ways to make the most of employee voice

Encouraging employee voice is arguably more challenging now than it was pre-pandemic. As Dan says, “when you’re decentralized, it’s easier to ignore people.” In a world where you can’t just walk over to a team member’s desk and ask them how they feel, we have to rely far more on technology to help build and maintain relationships through different types of communication.

Here are our golden rules for managers and leaders looking to make employee voice a key part of their company culture:

  1. Make a habit of communicating

    Have regular conversations with employees about what they feel right now. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with line managers should be something you should try and schedule into every employee diary. This gives everyone the space to voice concerns before they escalate into a more significant issue.

  2. Be transparent

    You won't be able to act on every piece of feedback. However, if there's something you don't get around to, make sure you explain why. Having this level of honesty and respect for your employees will help show that you've listened to and valued their feedback, even if you can't go all the way in addressing their concerns immediately.

  3. Set timeframes

    When you agree to action a concern, it's essential that employees know when they can expect an update. Putting feedback into a roadmap will help prevent people from feeling like you're not committed to taking their concerns to the next level and give them much more confidence to share in the future.

  4. Open the conversation

    If an employee raises concerns that could apply to others in your organization, open the conversation to the rest of your workforce. Finding the right solution will be much easier if you can hear everyone's voice and opinion.

  5. Create a level playing field

    The UKG and Workplace Intelligence research discovered discrepancies in how different groups of workers feel they can make their voices heard. Younger workers are more likely to think organizations are ignoring them than older workers, for example.

    So it's vital to create a level playing field so everyone can join the conversation. "Everyone should be able to share their ideas. It doesn't matter how old they are," says Dan. "Someone who's 23 years old could have a better idea than someone who's 62 years old. Both should be able to share their views and opinions."

  6. Don’t shy away from the problems

    No organization is perfect. Employers need to own the bad as well as the good. That means recognizing where you can make improvements and open up a wider conversation among your workforce. By drawing attention to problems, organizations actively make employees a part of the solution, earning their trust and respect along the way.

Keep reading

Related

Employee engagement: what it is and why it’s so vital for your people and your business.

Learn More

Let's Stay Connected

Get the latest news and insights from the frontline of work.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive marketing-related electronic communications from Facebook, including news, events, updates and promotional emails. You may withdraw your consent and unsubscribe from such emails at any time. You also acknowledge that you have read and agree to the Workplace Privacy terms.

1 "17 Surprising Statistics about Employee Retention", TINYpulse 2020.
Was this article helpful?
Tak for din feedback

Related

Employee engagement: what it is and why it’s so vital for your people and your business.

Learn More

Recent posts

Employee engagement | 8 minute read

Employee engagement: what it is and why it’s so vital for your organization.

Employee engagement: what it is and why it’s so vital for your organization.

Employee engagement | 8 minute read

Employee satisfaction survey questions: what to ask and why.

How can you create an exceptional Employee Experience if you can’t measure it? Learn how to use employee satisfaction surveys to move the needle.

Business Communication | 7 minute read

Business communication strategies and why organizations need them.

Organizations had to rethink their communication strategies when people started working remotely during lockdown. Now, as some people begin returning to the workplace, businesses need to think again. Learn how to get started.