Employee Voice: How to Listen to Your Employees

Employee Voice How to Listen to Your Employees
Employee Voice How to Listen to Your Employees

Employee voice is the shortcut to accessing your company’s best ideas.

More than the voice of employees, this concept represents all the solutions and improvements that people can offer to your business.

Have you been taking advantage of these contributions, or do you need to listen more carefully?

When in doubt, it’s best to follow this article to understand how to foster a collaborative culture and improve your results.

Read through to the end and see the employee voice opportunities.

What is employee voice?

Employee voice is a concept that represents the communication of employees with their employer and collective participation in the company’s decisions.

One of the first official records of the term is the book Management Choice and Employee Voice (CPID Publishing, 2011); published by CPID (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).

According to work, the employee voice consists of four main aspects:
  1. Communication/exchange of ideas; is the dialogue between different points of view of employees and employers, individually or through collective consultation processes.
  2. Bottom-up problem solving; is the participation of employees in solving the company’s problems; which includes suggestions, ideas, and projects to improve business performance.
  3. Collective representation; it is the space for representing the needs and demands of employees, whether through representatives (union or not); or formal company channels.
  4. Engagement; it is the feeling of belonging to the team and employees’ freedom to express their points of view to the leaders, with the certainty that their contributions will be well received.

In summary, we can say that the employee voice is the means of influencing, representing; and dialoguing employees in a company, which determines their freedom to express their opinions and contribute to the organization.

One of its main characteristics is authenticity, which translates into the employee’s truth and right to an opinion.

Within the company, this voice is expressed through formal and informal mechanisms.

Informally, employees talk to each other and with their managers, send e-mails, receive and give feedback, participate in meetings, among other events that allow the exchange of ideas about the business.

But there are also formal communication channels, which the company makes available to listen to the voice of employees; communication tools, corporate social networks, suggestion boxes, internal surveys, etc.

Therefore, each company has its way of managing the employee voice, with different degrees of freedom, inclusion, and transparency.

Importance of employee voice

In an era of human capital, where companies recognize people as their most valuable assets, listening to employees’ voices is essential. After all, the professionals determine the company’s competitive advantage and work towards the business objectives.

But, no wonder this concept has gained prominence in the corporate scenario as an essential tool for collaboration and increased performance. On the one hand, the employee voice raises engagement levels and leaves employees more satisfied, productive and motivated.

On the other hand, managers gained innovation, productivity, increased performance, built a solid organizational culture and improved talent retention.

The idea is simple

By giving a voice to employees, the company opens up a dialogue with those responsible for its success and creates a collaborative work environment.

Thus, professionals feel valued and actively contribute to improving business results. And they are the ones who understand the company’s processes and experience its challenges daily.

Therefore, they are the aptest to opine on work methods and suggest changes, helping managers’ decision-making.

According to a report by Salesforce, published in 2018, employees who feel heard are nearly 5 times more empowered and likely to give their best at work.

In addition, a 2017 Gallup survey reveals that engaged professionals generate 21% more profitability.

That’s why it’s worth investing in the employee voice to broaden employee participation and reach new heights in the employee experience.

How to stimulate ?

There are several ways to encourage the employee voice in your company and strengthen your relationship with employees.

Check out some ideas for listening to the right way.

Change the perspective of leadership

Before listening to your employees, you need to make listening a leadership priority.

This means changing the perspective of leaders so that they see employees as part of the solution — not the problem. So, managers often do not pay enough attention to the team’s opinions when trying to find a solution, when the answer is right in front of their eyes.

He is not prepared to deal with what he will hear in other cases or is afraid of losing authority when accepting suggestions. These behaviors are not at all productive and must be replaced by a cooperative view.

By adopting a collaborative point of view, the leader can involve his team in problem-solving and gain access to innovative ideas. So, after all, several heads are better than one, which makes all the difference in a company’s culture.

Flex the hierarchy

Companies with very rigid hierarchies end up discouraging the participation of employees, who see several barriers between levels of authority.

Therefore, adopting a more flexible structure and open dialogue between superiors and subordinates, creating a more horizontal climate in distributing responsibilities.

So, a great way to do this is to give professionals more autonomy, allowing them to participate in decisions and take the initiative in projects. In this way, you set the stage for promoting the employee voice at all levels.

Improve internal communication

To show your employees that you are willing to listen to them, you need to start with internal communication. Unfortunately, it is common for companies to secondary communication to employees, investing very little in this area and informing only the basics.

So, if you want to boost the employee voice, try creating unique communications for your employees and channels that work. The objective is to expand access to information and let ideas flow freely, with maximum transparency.

For this, you must communicate the company’s important decisions and clarify the business paths, making room for employees to express their opinions and contribute their points of view. This includes honesty in times of crisis. For example; when companies tend to minimize the problem rather than open their game and rely on the help of employees.

When people feel well informed and integrated into the company, the tendency is for them to increase their confidence and want to contribute even more to the business.

Listen instead of guessing

This is one of the most reviewer points of the employee’s voice; listening to what people say rather than assuming what they want. In other words, instead of interpreting behaviors and relying on trial and error, you can ask contributors what they think.

It seems obvious, but most companies have not adapted to this principle and persist in methods that distance more than bringing employees together. A classic example is using the organizational climate survey done sporadically. Often once a year, as the company’s only employee voice tool.

Use technology to listen

If you want to practice active listening in your business, you will need the technology to hear all the voices. So far, we’ve talked about listening better, opening communication channels, and encouraging everyone’s participation.

But how to do this in companies with tens, hundreds, and even thousands of employees?

The answer lies in technological solutions such as corporate social networks, digital forums, messaging applications, collaborative platforms, and systems that connect people in general.

With the internet, your employee voice has no limits, regardless of the number of employees.

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