Employee voice and sustaining business success

30 April 2013 | David Widdowson

A recent report by Involvement and Participation Agency (IPA) and Tomorrow’s Company1 indicates that organisations that help their employees speak up are more able to create conditions for sustained business success. We look at the key findings of the report and show how they also relate to the future work practices required by flexible working.

Key Findings

Employee voice is the ability of an organisation to listen and respond to its people’s views, ideas and concerns, and as such forms a key part of how it engages with its workforce. It is a two-way process that fosters open dialogue between employees and leaders at all levels of an organisation, to share information, align employees to organisational goals and enhance decision making.

The report finds that organisationa that actively encourage employee voice see a number of benefits including:

  • Higher productivity – employees who are listened to and engaged work harder, remain in the organisation longer and help build corporate reputation.
  • Innovation – open dialogue and trust fosters creativity and encourages employees to use their expertise and experience to improve the business.
  • Increased profitability – organisations that are more likely to act on employee feedback are higher performing2.

Using employee voice to build business success requires the organisation to build a culture and processes that actively engages with employees. The report identifies a number of key factors for success:

  • Trust. Build a safe environment where employees can speak up without worrying about being treated unfairly as a result. Leadership plays a key role in fostering trust, by opening dialogue with employees and then listening and responding without judgement.
  • Channels. Use a variety of channels for gathering employee feedback, including collective forums (team meetings, social media, staff forums) for employee collaboration, as well as individual channels (surveys, suggestion boxes, one-to-one dialogue) that allow personal or confidential feedback.
  • Training. It is important that managers have the skills and knowledge to engage effectively with their staff and that they understand their role in the process, for example in consultation with unions or representative groups about organisational change.
  • Feedback. This is a critical part of the communication cycle and a key factor in building on-going dialogue and trust. Make sure that you respond to employee ideas and concerns even if the answer is ‘no’.

Future Work

Employee voice is an essential element of future working practices. As traditional command and control structures give way to flexible work structures, virtual teams and results-based performance, the ability of an organisation to align employee talent to business objectives will be critical to its long-term success.

At Abbiss Cadres, we work with organisations to consider how changing work practices and new flexible working legislation will impact their employees, their processes and structures, and their culture.

Resources

For a copy of the report, please click here

1 ‘Releasing Voice for Sustainable Business Success’ Involvement and Participation Agency and Tomorrow’s Company [December 2012]

2 Towers Watson ‘Normative Database UK 2012’ shows that High Performance Companies are 20% more likely to act on survey feedback than the UK average

For further information or to discuss the issues raised, please contact Kate Thompson or Julia Lampshire

The author

David Widdowson
Partner
Employment Law
Mediation
Business Coaching
D: +44 (0) 207 036 8388
T: +44 (0) 203 051 5711
F: +44 (0) 203 051 5712

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