The positive effects of giving employees a prominent voice and making sure employees are heard in the workplace have never been stronger. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a balancing of power between employees and their managers.
The managers who have taken the time to listen to their teams’ concerns and opinions have seen exponentially greater benefits to the company than those who have continued on the traditional route of passively listening to their employees.
For a long time, it was standard for employees to feel powerless in their roles. Those at the lower levels of a company had little to no say in the organization’s decisions and actions. The new workforce is no longer accepting this as the status quo. With the realization that employees are not expendable, and that companies need them in order to survive – employees have been given a newfound power to speak up at their companies.
Not only have employees realized their worth, but managers have also seen the benefits of actively listening to their employees and acting on their concerns. Research into employee communication about job-related issues shows that it leads to greater employee engagement, better customer service, reduced turnover, and greater operational efficiencies.
In research completed by members of various Management Journals, results showed that employees who spoke up about a wide range of issues were 92% more likely to stay with the company. Furthermore, 95% of those who spoke up about all topics said they would recommend their company as a great place to work.
Creating an Outspoken Environment
Cultivating an environment where employees feel comfortable to speak about things happening at their company is vital to obtaining valuable feedback and insights from your team members. This not only allows employees to feel more engaged with their workplace, but it also exposes managers and executive-level employees to issues and concerns that they might not otherwise have known about.
The largest population in most organizations consists of the employees with the least power. These employees are the backbone of companies and without them, organizations would undoubtedly collapse. Therefore, it’s vital to give these employees a voice and take actions on their concerns – they know more about the company’s operations and processes than any c-suite executive could.
Companies have also begun implementing the use of innovative platforms to make communicating with their team members more accessible. One of the most prominent companies in the industry today is Butterfly.ai, whose mission is to empower front-line and lower level teams to have their voice heard.
Managers should consider implementing programs aimed at helping employees develop networks within the company and sharing a wide range of ideas. The individual talents of employees get magnified through the collective idea sharing between employees at all levels.
According to a recent report generated by PGI.com, effective workplace collaboration can increase successful innovation by up to 15%. Employee collaboration leads to greater perspective, increases competence, and enhances productivity.
Managers Need to Listen and Act
Companies need to train managers to be open to employee suggestions and take prompt action on those suggestions. Seeing managers take actions on their insights creates a culture where employees feel like they have some weight and power in their organization. This in turn creates more employee engagement and satisfaction within the company.
In research completed by various members of Manager Journals, 96% of employees who speak up about many topic areas within their company said they have managers who act based on their suggestions. By taking a more democratic approach to leadership, managers can not only increase their ability to make positive change, but also increase their team’s overall satisfaction with them.
However, it’s important to emphasize that listening to your employees and acting on their advice are two different things. Just listening to your employees but disregarding their opinions can be very frustrating and result in more negative consequences than not listening to them at all.
If this is the case, employees will likely stop offering input and trust between managers and their teams will decrease. Managers need to provide tangible evidence that they followed up with their employees’ concerns and made real change.
The Costs of Silenced Employees
When an employee feels silenced or that they have no impact on their company’s decisions, they turn to other behaviors that help them alleviate their concerns. These behaviors include complaining to others, doing extra or unnecessary tasks, ruminating about the problem, staying away from work, or getting angry at their coworkers or those around them.
According to a Harvard Business Review article by David Maxfield, the average cost of a silenced employee is $7,500. In the study conducted, a drastic 40% of employee respondents admitted to wasting two weeks or more sulking about an unresolved issue at their company. Every employee that feels disgruntled essentially adds a cost to the company’s bottom line.
Be the Change you Want to See
Encouraging employees to speak up, share concerns, and advocate for themselves produces an environment of happier employees, more positive workplace interactions, greater profits, and overall, a company that is destined to succeed.
Implementing this change and making sure employees are heard can be the difference between a company that succeeds and a company that fails.