To build back better on an organisational level, we will need to take a collaborative approach and recognise the importance of employee engagement and voice. Including employees in planning and decision-making processes, especially when reopening the workplace, is undoubtedly the best way forward. Our recent Supporters Network Webinar spoke on these topics, where we discussed how employers can harness the power of people within their organisation to overcome the challenges faced during this time. The key points from the discussion are covered below, along with a list of key resources and the full video recording.
Treat employee voice as integral.
Whilst employee voice is often perceived as a concession to employees, it should be seen as an integral part of a business. Not only does this foster a better relationship between employer and employee, it places this co-operation at the heart of the company's decision making process.
Listening is not enough; actions must be taken to engage with concerns in a way that is appropriate to the situation. If actions could or couldn't be taken in response to the feedback, this should be properly communicated to all employees. Placing an importance on this process similarly encourages employees to view their own voice as valuable, not just within their team but across the company itself.
Use the right mechanisms.
Especially in the world of remote work, ensuring there is a good mechanism for employees to be able to offer feedback from wherever they are is essential. Including employees in decisions during the lockdown and reopening phases will lead to informed, and well communicated decisions, but this is not possible without the right way for them to voice these ideas and concerns.
Offering more anonymous ways for employees to provide their opinions, such as surveys, may encourage staff to engage openly. But be mindful of common pitfalls of this mechanism, as surveys that are long, complicated or time consuming may discourage feedback, rather than produce effective results. Keeping surveys short, specific, and set to certain themes is a good way to ensure the process is something employees will be encouraged to do.
Keep wellbeing at the top of the agenda.
With rising uncertainties and anxieties across the board, employee engagement and voice is more important than ever. Whilst anonymous surveys are useful for directing company decisions; one-on-one conversations are essential when viewing employee wellbeing. With the new world of remote work, many managers now have greater ability to facilitate these conversations with their team members.
In the current climate, there is a need for employers to take into consideration what is happening globally, nationally, or within the company, and understand how this may have an impact on wellbeing. Anticipating potential concerns or anxieties may make the conversations come at more appropriate times, and ensure that all staff feel encouraged to speak up. Questions regarding physical and mental health should be prioritised, including for furloughed staff, on a regular basis as we go through ever-changing times.
Employee voice and engagement can take many forms, but at its heart is open two-way conversations in which feedback, both positive and negative, can be aired and worked upon. This benefits all members of an organisation, and ensures that plans moving forward are well informed, well communicated and collaborative.
Terry Duffy, Director North West at Acas
Jay McKenna, Acting Regional Secretary at TUC
Anusree Saha-Williams, Engagement Manager at Bruntwood
Stribe: Booklet (Stribe is a tool employers can use to amplify employee voice. As an application, it facilitates and tracks employee feedback, includes options for anonymous messages and pulse surveys)