Employee experience: the art of listening

8 September 2020 Tenaka

We live in a world where there is no shortage of communications methods. There’s everything from simple phone calls to video conferencing to data-free mobile communications apps. It’s easy to get in touch with your employees, no matter where they are. But despite all these ways to keep in touch, many employees still feel like they aren’t being listened to; this is hurting those companies’ productivity.

These are particularly challenging times, when so many employees are working from home and adjusting to new ways of working. Employees can feel especially unheard. Companies are focused on keeping productivity at pre-pandemic levels, Ironically, the simple act of listening can boost employee engagement and productivity. In fact, according to a recent study by Salesforce, employees who feel like they are listened to and heard can be around 460% more productive. And no, that’s not a typo!

So if listening can be so powerful, how can you, as a manager or business owner, make sure your employees feel heard?

Step 1 – Ask

There really is only one way to get an answer for any question – by asking it. If your employees don’t feel listened to, they aren’t likely to come and tell you. You need to be proactive and find out whether your humans feel engaged, heard, and valued. One way to do this is through an Employee Happiness Survey, which can pinpoint any communication issues. You could also request one-on-one meetings with each employee, if practical. How you choose to ask is up to you, but you’re likely to get more honest results through an anonymised survey.

Step 2 – Analyse

You can collect as much information and data as you like, but if you don’t take the time to understand it, it is no good to you. Once you have collected all the feedback from your employees, it’s time to get to grips with it. It is critically important at this point not to take anything personally, and to understand where it’s coming from. The information you have in front of you is going to help you be more appreciative of your employees’ experience in the workplace. Therefore, you need to be impartial and try to uncover the reasons your people feel unheard. This is especially important if some of it points to negative behaviour on your part.

Step 3 – Engage

Usually, the first reaction once a problem is identified is to try and solve it. However, if you think about it, just leaping in to try and fix things is actually part of the problem. You can’t fix an employee engagement problem if you don’t engage your humans. Now that you understand what the problems are, you need to take the time to hear how your people think they can be solved. Trust us, they’ve spent time discussing this among themselves, and may have some great solutions you never thought of.

Step 4 – Implement

Once you have identified and agreed on solutions, it’s important to start implementing them straight away. The longer you wait, the less likely that these changes will ever happen – and the more disillusioned your employees become. It already takes a lot for people to approach management with their thoughts and ideas. If these end up ignored in favour of the status quo, it can cause even worse issues down the line.

What next?

Once you’ve gone through this process, identified and implemented solutions, everything should be golden, right? Well, no – because people and circumstances are constantly evolving. Therefore, it’s important to prevent these problems from arising again in future. That’s why we recommend including the following ongoing actions in your regular employee engagement:

One-on-ones – Performance reviews for employees are nothing new. Many companies do these annually to evaluate employee performance. But what about company performance towards workers? Don’t just focus on employee evaluation; let one-on-one sessions be a chance for workers to express their concerns and ideas.

Open invitation – We’ve all heard the lip service paid to open-door policies. Many managers claim to have this policy, but are unavailable, or brush off employee concerns or ideas. Instead of simply saying, my door is open, try an open invitation. By offering people a formal, but open, opportunity to approach you regarding a specific issue, you invite feedback. Regular invitations like this can help motivate workers to get engaged more regularly. This will eventually create a more open culture.

And finally, make sure your employees have the tools and facilities to reach you for these discussions. The world of 2020 is one unlike any we’ve experienced in corporate culture before. It’s more important than ever to keep lines of communication open. Whether that means regularly scheduled virtual meetings, team WhatsApp groups, or even just the occasional phone call, make sure that being heard isn’t difficult for your people.

At Tenaka, we’re all about creating great employee experiences. That’s why we developed a data-free communications platform that can help you and your employees stay engaged, even when they have no data.

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