In the modern workforce, it is important that employees feel that they have a Valued Voice and that their ideas, concerns, and overall input are taken into consideration. When your people feel heard, and we mean actually listened to, with their ideas, feelings, and concerns addressed and acted upon, their engagement will increase, and they will continue to stay active in the organization.
How can you ensure your employees' voices are understood and that they don’t fall silent? We offer up a few ways to ensure your employees feel heard.
1. Offer Various Methods of Communication
Everyone has their own preferred mode of communication, and if someone wants to share but sees the method as a barrier – you could be missing out on some important information. Allowing employees to communicate via multiple channels will create free-flowing ideas, concerns, and feedback that enhance the organization. By offering various ways to lend their voice, you create a safe space for employee voices to be heard.
2. Create a Safe Place for Active Participation
People won’t speak up if they worry their ideas or concerns will immediately be shot down or criticized. Create a place of psychological safety, which Amy Edmondson defines as “… a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” When people can freely enter the discussion and be treated with respect, they will feel heard and open to hearing the voices of others, thereby creating a strong bond among the team.
3. Be Open to Feedback and Constructive Criticism
A workplace with open and honest communication amplifies ALL voices. As a manager, you should be open to the feedback your employees offer. Being heard doesn’t mean anything goes; it also means listening to the input and feedback your ideas garner from others. If there is truly a safe place for participation, the feedback will be constructive (if it’s not, you will need to re-focus on psychological safety!), and people should be open to what others say as well. Set the stage for accepting and applying the feedback that comes to you as a manager.
4. Reward Participation
Acknowledge the ideas, input, and feedback offered by employees. The employee being rewarded will feel heard, and it shows others that their voices matter. But don’t just reward them for their communication, be sure that people feel valued for the work they do and the effort and time they dedicate to their professional and organizational success. A culture that values its employees creates a sense of belonging and ownership that facilitates seamless communication and creative collaboration.
5. Take Action on the Communication
Feeling heard includes seeing action take place. If an employee voices a concern, no matter how small it may seem to you, follow up on the conversation and work to resolve the issue at hand. One of the organizations' biggest mistakes is saying they are listening but taking no action. When employees feel like their words are falling on deaf ears, they begin to stop speaking up at all, which leads to disengagement, unnecessary turnover, and poor morale. Be present during employee conversations, acknowledge their contributions or concerns, and follow up once you have acted. Be sure to let them know what is happening and thank them for being an active, open, and important part of the organization.
It doesn’t take much to create an environment that allows people to feel heard and contribute to the overall growth and well-being of the organization. By instituting small, but essential changes in the way communication is given and received, you will create a safe and encouraging place for all to be heard.