Employee Voice: How to Listen, its Benefits, and Examples
With the corporate culture basking in the waves of change, organizations are trying to adapt and implement transparency and inclusivity among their employees, focusing on amplifying employee voice. More and more organizations are undertaking measures to encourage employees to speak their minds freely.
You might wonder what this employee voice is about and how it garners all the importance. Well, this blog will address all the questions brimming on your mind. Let us deeply dive into the following sections to quench your curiosity.
- A clear understanding of employee voice
- How can you listen to employees' voices at work
- What are the benefits of a strong employee voice
- What are the examples of employee voice
- What are the best practices for responding to employee voice
So, What is Employee Voice?
Employee voice is a practice where employees feel free to express their opinions, views, concerns, and suggestions about their work. People open up only when they feel safe. They would need an environment of trust and acceptance to voice their true thoughts. Hence, it becomes essential on your part to build an environment comfortable enough for the employees to thrive and be involved in voluntarily speaking their hearts out.
Employee Voice is a crucial step to company success, for it helps -
- Boost engagement and innovation,
- Create a positive and collaborative workplace, and
- Provide insights to enhance policies and culture.
How to Listen to Employee Voice at Work?
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.
– Stephen R. Covey
Hearing out the employees properly is one of the crucial leadership qualities that every manager must possess.
It might be a bit complex, especially for the new managers, but once the ice breaks, they would know how their employees are just by hearing their concerns.
There are several methods to make the process of listening to your employees more effective, and here are a few of them.
1. Employee Feedback
Feedback can count in general questions related to workplace assets. This may include their thoughts about the available amenities, any concerns they might have, particularly about their work, and things like that.
This gives you a general idea about what you need to pay attention to before diving deeper into the critical issues as a manager.
A Forbes Report states that 89% of HR leaders agree that regular feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes.
2. Employee Engagement Surveys
Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee feels that they are truly part of a company, have a voice in its decisions and feels respected.
– Darryl Dioso
Employee engagement surveys help you understand and measure how motivated your employees feel about their work. It talks about how the issues may hinder the employees from performing their best, like poor communication, team issues, relationships with the management, etc.
When you run such surveys and act on rectifying the issues, your employees feel confident. And it encourages them to share their views and concerns openly.
3. One-on-One Meetings with Employees
One-on-one meetings are crucial if you want to know your employees inside out. Such discussions help employees speak out about their issues in a detailed manner.
Further, it facilitates the managers to develop a sound understanding of the employees and put forward personalized suggestions based on their experiences.
Also, if you're up to the idea of 1:1's, it is recommended that you implement an open-door policy that allows your employees to confidently approach you when required.
4. Suggestion Box
This is a very traditional yet effective way to help the employees speak out anonymously. The suggestion box allows employees to tip off their management about any ongoing problems for timely intervention and stops them from escalating further.
It ensures that employees who genuinely care about their organization have a medium to raise their voices without the fear of being judged by their peers or others around them.
These kinds of employee voice mechanisms help employers keep a check on things happening around the workplace. It ascertains that whatever the employees say, there's always someone to hear them out and extend their support.
5. Allowing Interested and Well-performing Employees to Participate in High-level Meetings
As discussed above, employees now want to register their voices by putting up their ideas and participating in decision-making. If you have a small team, it's easy for all to submit their suggestions, but things might become tricky if you've got a large group of employees.
In such a case, you can pick out those employees who are performing well or have shown keen interest in ongoing work and let them present their ideas in board-level meetings.
This would bring fresh ideas to the desk and motivate others to perform better by getting themselves involved in high-level business processes.
Learn More: 9 Tips to Conduct Productive Business Meetings
Benefits of Having a Strong Employee Voice
Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.
– Anne M.Mulcahy
Organizations truly progress when everyone associated with it comes forward to discuss things that matter for keeping up a healthy work culture.
The wide range of benefits can establish the value of having a solid employee voice within the organization.
According to Forbes, employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to get empowered and perform their best work.
Here are a few benefits:
1. Enhances the Employees’ Trust in its Management
Employees' level of trust and confidence in management is visible when they can speak up freely in front of their employers, irrespective of anything. It is well-known that when we are heard, we feel more connected to others, valuing our words.
In this case, the employees feel the same towards their managers and leaders. Once employees realize their voices are heard, their trust automatically increases, which is a positive sign for every organization.
2. Employees are More Focused on Their Work
When employees are sure they have supporting management who is always up and listening, they can concentrate better.
3. Generation of New Ideas and Knowledge Sharing
Every employee has unique skill set and diverse experiences. These combined enable them to develop unique solutions that often solve problems most effectively.
Also, it helps the higher-ups identify suitable employees for any task based on their thinking abilities and willingness to work on it.
4. Enhances Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy is the aspect where the employees promote their organization in front of others via social media or in person. It is a vital sign of unity and trust between employers and employees.
When their higher-ups hear employees within the organization, they feel valued and view themselves as an integral part. As such, your employees will not hesitate to stand up for your organization whenever times come. This positively impacts the aspect of employer branding, which again helps attract the best talents for work.
5. Helps in Building Strong Organizational Values
Employees are the prime assets of any organization. They work hard to bring success to their organization, so their voices matter a lot. When employees share their concerns freely, they display their will to contribute to the organization's growth by adhering to its values.
This also helps strengthen the company values based on the changing employee needs, which is only possible when they can share their words at the right time.
Employee Voice Examples
Everyone should have their own opinion and be able to voice it. No matter what it is. Of course, that does not mean your opinion is always right. But you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.
– Tim McGraw
The examples listed below illustrate a clear picture of employee voice when put into practice. Let us delve into the points for a better understanding.
Employees participating in town hall meetings and Q&A sessions to share ideas, concerns, and suggestions openly.
Employers using Employee surveys to gather open-ended feedback from employees on work culture, policies, management effectiveness, etc.
Establishing suggestion boxes or online forums where employees anonymously voice opinions and pitch ideas.
Employees actively participating in interviews or focus groups to provide input on new initiatives and processes.
Employees participating in strategy planning and decision-making committees.
Employee resource groups or Workers' councils discussing issues and sharing views with the management. Issues cover work conditions, compensation and benefits, career growth, Leadership, and management policies along with their behaviors, etc.
Best Practices for Responding to Employee Voice
Once you have created an atmosphere for the employees to extend their voices, you must devise ways to respond to their opinions. Hence, this particular phase is crucial for you to handle it tactfully.
Below are some best practices for responding to employee voice:
1. Be actively open to listen
Make sure to devote your full attention to your employees when they share their feedback and ideas. Be welcoming enough to listen to their perspective without interrupting or judging them.
Try asking questions that will clarify any cloud of doubts. However, avoid any means of getting defensive. Be thankful to them for taking the time to share their thoughts.
Once you get hold of the necessary feedback, work on resolving them in priority. This will give them the impression that you value their opinion, which, in the long run, will help you gain their trust and loyalty.
2. Appreciate the Feedback
Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
– Ken Blanchard
Appreciate your employees for speaking up about their concerns to help improve the workplace. Help validate their feelings by particularly appreciating their courage and honesty in providing feedback.
Appreciating their voice fosters openness, trust, and engagement. It helps surface ideas and insights to drive improvement and innovation for the company. When people feel heard, they are invested in the organization's success.
3. Follow Up on Time
You must be careful to avoid the feedback going unaddressed. Ensure to address your employees' feedback by following up with them within a week.
Keep them in the loop and explain the steps and timeline required to evaluate complex issues and develop suitable solutions. Also, be cautious and mindful of your actions and keep things neutral that will be in the best interest of everyone involved.
4. Communicate Actions Taken
Be transparent about the process involved in response to the feedback. Share with them how the feedback is considered and further used to implement changes.
If any action is not undertaken for some reason, explain to them that their voice was heard, but things could not proceed due to the limitations involved. However, you can instead devise alternative solutions without delaying the actions.
The key here is to solve the problem and not oversee it so that the employees do not end up getting disappointed.
Moreover, if the need arises, you can request additional input and work accordingly.
These steps will boost the employees’ confidence and encourage them to continue speaking up. The key here is to ensure that your employees' voices don't go in vain and are paid heed to.
Having gone through a detailed understanding of employee voice, it is safe to say that it plays a significant role in influencing organizational performance. When employees are encouraged to express their ideas, views, and feedback freely, there is no turning back for an organization.
When employees feel that their opinions and ideas are valued and paid heed to, they become engaged and committed to the organization's vision and go the extra mile for its upliftment.
The spark ignited in them helps them expand their creativity levels by bringing innovative ideas to the table. As a result, you witness a massive progression in their performance, thus leading to the organization’s growth.
Now, it is your turn to prioritize employee voice and witness a massive rise in your organization’s performance.