In today’s business environment, one of the critical indicators of organizational success is a company’s ability to make employees feel heard. When an employee is genuinely convinced their contribution to company decision making is seen and felt, they will, in fact, embrace the company culture and continue to communicate ideas, concerns, and opinions.
Giving your employees a share of voice is the one critical piece needed to establish a happy, engaged, and productive workplace.
Simply put, employee voice is the vehicle used to drive a corporate culture around respect and values.
Employee voice explained
An employee will understand their place in the company when they see how much if any, they can voluntarily communicate suggestions, opinions, concerns, and ideas. If they see their actions can contribute to company improvements, their overall engagement with the company increases beyond just the regular “come in, do the job and get out” pattern. Employee voice goes beyond the typical suggestion box submissions. It is more about proactively seeking out input that improves productivity, collaboration, wellness, and more.
Though still a relatively new concept in business, the bottom-line benefits are significant when giving employees a greater share of voice.
Employees without a share of voice
Corporate cultures not permitting employees to have a voice will result in employees who remain silent. They will not speak up. This is a major issue as it is employees who raise flags or get management to recognize a change needs to happen that may otherwise be overlooked. Organizations that invest in the tools that allow employees a voice see positive results when these tools are used. Inner office poles, feedback platforms, and employee surveys allow employees to give feedback on an appropriate platform.
A great example of this was when Toyota took over a GM plant in California. The facility was highly unproductive, and Toyota made a choice not to replace the staff, instead, they instilled new values, including giving employees a voice to freely offer feedback. It did not take long before managers were implementing 80% of employee suggestions, taking the plant from last in productivity to one of the top tier plants.
If employees are not heard, you will have trained them to do without question and forego changes that will positively impact the business.
Leaders can affect change
Do not confuse an open-door policy with a strong employee voice. The open door, though, is still a significant first step. It is more important to remember that actions speak louder than words. It involves, for example, reviewing suggestions that have been submitted over the past year. Your company can glean a better sense of whether the employee voice has been heard or not.
A system needs to be in place that ensures all opinions are heard and addressed. It does not mean all items will be implemented and actioned. It does mean that all suggestions will be read and acknowledged and submitted for review. Employees must know they are heard, and by acknowledging their input, will go a long way to giving them recognition and value to stay engaged continuously.
The frequency of employee participation in discussions around critical decisions and changes will help maintain your company’s employee voice. Measuring engagement can shed a lot of insight into how well your program is working.