Businesses know that listening to their customers is a crucial element and has the power to drive growth and help retain buyers or clients. But what about listening to employees?
Listening to the ideas and thoughts that your employees have could reveal new ways to improve and develop the business. Yet over 1/3 of employees across the world believe that their company doesn’t listen to their ideas for improving the business.
The research from management company, Sideways 6, discovered that even though an impressive 82% of employees said they had ideas that would help the business expand or achieve their goals, a lot of the respondents think their suggestions are being ignored by their employers. That number reached as high as 39% for females who felt their suggestions weren’t being listened to and 30% for males. The same research found that even though the employees felt they had valuable opinions to offer the company, many didn’t feel confident to voice their ideas. There was even a clear inequality amongst those who had thoughts they would have wanted to share, with 64% of senior level employees strongly agreeing that they have great ideas but aren’t afraid to share them compared to only 42% of younger workers junior level employees.
Commenting on the results from the findings, Will Read, the founder and CEO of Sideways 6 said: “As businesses grow and innovation becomes increasingly more challenging, it is essential that decision makers are listening to the people who know their business best of all – their employees – in order to find new ways to help their business succeed.
“These findings show that many employees have ideas but do not have the confidence or knowledge of how best to put them forward. It is now essential that more companies take the required steps to provide their employees with an accessible way for them to share ideas and be heard by those able to put them into action.”
And there really is nothing worse than feeling like you can’t voice an idea that you know will have a positive impact! Whether you’ve plucked up the courage to contribute an idea at a meeting only to have no one acknowledge it, or you’ve pointed out problems with software but have managers not look into it and then ended up losing valuable work and leaving you do deal with the consequences – not having your words listened to can be incredibly frustrating and will make your employees feel disappointed with the company.
When employees feel heard and listened to by the leadership team there are huge benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Why you should make employees feel heard
Employee appreciation is the key driver for a successful business. When an employee feels heard they will understand that there work, and efforts are being valued within an organisation. As we struggle through The Great Resignation, now is more important than ever to be proactive in your approach to employee appreciation and be constantly on the lookout for more ways to improve their work experience.
Afterall, there are several reasons why employees might want to leave their jobs and unfortunately you can’t control them all. The best thing you can do is take advantage of the things you can control.
Listening to employees is a vital skill for leaders who want to see their employees have trust and pride in the organisation. It can also support your efforts to show your employees recognition for a job well done. Recognition can help employees to feel engaged with their work and will help them to do their best, but without that recognition and when people feel like they aren’t listening to, they will lose the motivation and connection with their role within the company.
Provides room for innovation
When there is an open door policy and employees are well informed with what’s going on in the company or the workplace, that knowledge and experience will help them feel empowered to be bold and help solve problems. They will be better provided with the right resources and valuable information to assist the organisation to achieve better results.
But the best part? Active listening doesn’t cost a thing! To make your employees feel listened to and feel heard, here’s key strategies to get you started:
This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often companies to get feedback from their employees in the simplest, most straightforward, and timeless manor.
Surveys can be the easiest way to receive feedback and make people feel heard, especially in remote working. They could be about a specific topic, for example the onboarding experience, management, engagement etc. Surveys could help you listen and understand how you have dealt with a specific situation.
Here’s a quick guide for employee surveying:
1. Identify what information you want feedback on
2. Provide a way for employees to share and respond anonymously and honestly
3. Listen to that feedback
4. Communicate exactly what you plan on doing
Incorporate open communication into your company culture
To get the most out of listening to your employees, you need them to be confident enough to share their thoughts so you can listen.
This means creating a culture that not only encourages senior leaders to listen to what employees have to see but also supports team members to share their thoughts whenever they want. The easiest way to do this is to have an open-door policy where employees are aware that they can approach management to speak to them about anything.
Another simple way to support open communication in your company culture is through regular 1-on-1 meetings with your employees. It doesn’t even have to be a formal or structured meeting, just time to have a coffee together where they know they have your undivided attention. A good listener will listen during these meetings, but it’s vital that you follow up with these meetings to create a true sense of appreciation and make your employee feel valued by circling back to see how things are going for that employee.
Take any opportunity to share positivity
Stop negativity in its tracks by taking any opportunity to acknowledge a team members efforts and outcomes.
Obviously feedback on how their performance could improve is valuable, but if that’s all they ever hear employees will quickly feel demotivated within the company. It’s important that employees recognise and appreciation when an employee works hard and goes above and beyond for a project or task.
A study from EachPerson found that when asked what would make them feel more valued in the workplace, 51% of employees said a simple thank you. An even higher 86% of employees say recognition makes them feel happier at work. Employee appreciation can encourage members of staff to see positive attributes in each other, which demonstrates they value one another’s work and recognise everyone’s efforts and has been proven to reduce stress and absenteeism from increased engagement which can lead to fewer stress-related sick days.