Employee voice. What does that really mean?
For me employee voice is just simply every way in which your employees talk to you. It’s the engagement survey, the suggestion scheme, the discussion with the line manager. It’s the grievance procedure, the public interest disclosure, the water cooler conversation. It’s what your employees say about you on social media, to the trade union, on Glassdoor, in the canteen. Employee voice might also mean sickness absence, turnover, or simply silence.
We see over and over again how employee voice, the ability to be heard, is central to employee engagement.
Employees have a voice; they are talking to you, all the time. The only questions for employers, line managers, human resources, is whether you choose to hear it, how you listen, and what you do with what is said.
I’ve listened to a panel discussion today that talked to the role of trade unions in employee voice, how central it is. I’m sorry but I just don’t buy it. Trade unions have a role to play. But it’s no secret that trade union membership is experiencing an ongoing decline. There are occasional years where it goes up a little, but the overall trend is downwards and I don’t believe that’s going to change any time soon.
If you want to hear what your employees are saying, find out what they are feeling, then just ask. It’s that simple. Find the way that works for you. I’m no fan of the annual employee survey but do it if it suits your organisation. Set up listening groups, an employee panel, pulse surveys, suggestion schemes. Monitor social media, get out of your office and talk to people, review your grievances and your sickness absence. Find a way to listen, not just as a once a year thing but often, always.
My only advice is this. If you are going to take the time to listen, do something with the output. Either make some changes or explain why you can’t. You said, we did. Share the output and say thank you to those who spoke up. Otherwise you might just put your fingers in your ears.
Are you listening?