child sitting on floor listening with great concentration
PHOTO: Cristina Gottardi

New generations are entering the workforce and our working cultures have evolved over the past few years as a result. While many companies invest in perks and benefits offered on the job as incentives, today’s employees are demanding organizations go beyond the standard benefits and salary to focus on their experience in the workplace. In fact, Gartner found 69% of workers said they would work harder if they were recognized and appreciated more.

When employees feel ignored, they’re bound to take matters into their own hands, which not only puts a company’s reputation at stake but also puts customer satisfaction on the line. Companies that take a back seat when it comes to the employee experience and satisfaction will find their employees take matters into their own hands. We’ve most recently seen this through a string of protests and walkouts executed by Walmart, Wayfair and Amazon employees looking to express their frustrations. Alternatively, employees turn to company review sites like Glassdoor to share their discontent.

Employers who don’t foster open communication and work to engage their employees are missing out on the full potential and contributions of their employees. And according to a global study by ADP, 16% of employees around the world consider themselves fully engaged, meaning 84% of the global workforce is not working at its full potential. Employees who don’t feel heard will be checked out and take on the bare minimum responsibilities if they don’t feel motivated or engaged by their work.

In this environment, what can organizations do to ensure employees’ voices are not only heard but also actionable? How can organizations make sure employees remain updated and informed on organizational changes? Here are four strategies to amplify your employees’ voice and create a more collaborative company culture that actively encourages and listens to employee feedback.

Build Mechanisms for Feedback

Communications should never only be top-down. Employees are at the heart of every organization and including them in the decision-making process is key to keeping them connected and engaged. Thriving companies place their employees first and listen to their suggestions and frustrations. This means building a culture that not only encourages feedback, but actively establishes means to provide it.

An ongoing communications strategy that gives employees a way to engage, share and generate content to open the door for transparent dialogue with leadership guarantees you'll receive feedback. Additionally, managers should check in with direct reports on an ongoing basis to build rapport and encourage upward communication. 

HR managers and executives can also play a critical role in establishing means for employees to speak up about issues they are facing in the workplace. They can serve as the perfect buffer between senior leaders and junior-level staff and help create a safe space for employees to communicate openly about their frustrations.

Related Article: Sound Familiar? 4 Phrases That Show Your Employee Experience Needs Work

Give Employees Access to Senior Leadership

Employees are at the forefront of every organization, so having unhappy employees can trickle into the customer experience — negatively impacting a company’s broader business goals. For organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees, it is critical to find ways to bridge the gap between senior leaders and junior employees and build a company culture centered on employee experiences.

Since managers tend to work more closely with employees on a day-to-day basis, they should work as on the-ground “eyes and ears” for the company’s CEO and senior leadership to obtain insights on employee morale and concerns. Managers and senior leaders should then establish weekly or monthly briefings to discuss issues or concerns that they’re hearing straight from employees. Not only is it key to encourage upward communication, but senior leaders need to be open-minded about this feedback and work with employees to navigate the issues or suggestions raised and ensure employees feel heard.

Related Article: A Roadmap to Grassroots Digital Transformation

Approach Communications With Full Transparency

In a world plagued with “fake news” and the spread of misinformation, employees value transparency and honesty now more than ever. A worker is 12 times more likely to be fully engaged if he or she trusts the team leader. Executive leaders must communicate with employees in an open and honest manner to build trust — one of the most critical factors in a company’s relationship with its employees.

Related Article: The Manager's Guide to Transparency in the Workplace

Reach All Employees, Whether Remote or In-Person

Today’s workforce is increasingly distributed with 80% of employees deskless (i.e., not sitting at a computer), especially in industries such as retail, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. Without regular access to a computer and other channels, these employees don’t always have seamless access to the information they need to do their best work and to stay connected with the company. And as the workforce continues to evolve, organizations are challenged with finding a unified way to reach all employees with what they need to hear, right when they need to hear it. Organizations and IT teams must make sure they provide employees and employers with the proper tools so they can connect with each other and stay updated with the latest company news in real-time, wherever they are.

Companies and C-level executives can foster communication with employees through means such as weekly live company-wide videos or calls updating them on the latest company news, and then allowing time for employees to ask questions and contribute their thoughts. This can also include establishing an open forum to discuss how the company business is doing overall, spotlights on company employees and other company news through a monthly newsletter or company meeting. With this transparency, employees will feel included and in the know about the organization’s latest company news, business goals and policy updates.

If organizations want to increase employee engagement, not only do they need to provide a workplace that encourages employees to provide upward feedback, but they must then consider how they can listen to their employees’ concerns and implement changes as they see fit. Only through active listening and resulting action can organizations move forward in transforming their company culture and ensuring employees feel valued, heard and engaged.