Are you listening? How to gather employee opinions – and use them to drive innovation

HRD reveals the best ways to hone the employee experience using internal data

Are you listening? How to gather employee opinions – and use them to drive innovation

2022 is fast approaching – and for HR leaders it really can’t come soon enough. The past year has been one of unprecedented disruption, upheaval, evolution, and change – one that’s seen companies thrive or fall apart. HR has been front and centre through it all – shepherding employees and executives through the pandemic’s unchartered waters. 

Now, it’s time to look to the future – specifically in regards to leadership development. What will the CEO of tomorrow look like? What skills will they need? What attributes will you be searching for? The overriding consensus seems to be a leader with the ability to emanate trust and compassion. A recent report from The Workforce Institute found that trust is overwhelmingly important to the employee experience – and that a lack of trust and communication between employer and employee can lead to mass resignations.

In that vein, HRD caught up with Meghan Stettler, director of the O.C Tanner Institute, who revealed how employers can encourage their people to speak their minds – and then use those opinions to drive the business forward. 

“When companies listen and make changes based on the feedback they receive, employees are 358% more likely to be more satisfied with the feedback process, and 133% more likely to have a favourable perception of leadership,” she told HRD. “Leaders that want to help employees thrive must build workplace cultures than embed active listening throughout the employee experience. It’s not the job of a suggestion box.”

It’s all well and good to roll out surveys and pulse analytics – then pat yourself on the back for ‘conducting research’. But what’s the point of asking your employees their opinions if you’re not going to do anything with that information? As Stettler told HRD, leaders need to use tried and tested means of gathering and executing – using that hard-earned data to facilitate change.

“As mentioned above, embedding active listening into the everyday employee experience requires multiple modalities of transparent listening and communication,” added Stettler.

If you’re looking for a way to really open up lines of communication between your teams – even in remote of hybrid work – Stettler recommends the following three tips.

1. No meetings after meetings

During an event in Utah, Carine Clark, three-time president and CEO of high-growth tech companies, shared that at her organization there are ‘no meetings after meetings’ – employees are encouraged to share their ideas, concerns and perspectives while everyone is in the same room.  This helps strengthen transparency, collaboration, and inclusion of insights, while advancing the best outcomes from a variety of vantage points.  It also reduces fragmentation and closed-door complaining.

2. Frontline obsessions

Dr. Amit Singh, head of corporate HR at Aster DM Healthcare during a LinkedIn Live event told us that when the pandemic hit, he created the “frontline obsession” initiative, where he reached out to frontline workers, and built a bridge for delivering a better environment.  He said he heard fantastic ideas, even small ones, including where to place a mirror or clock. “Listening and taking action has made a huge difference … Each of these thousands of suggestions have the power to change the company,” he said.

3. Kaizen

At the heart of Lifetime Product’s business strategy is the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, or continuous improvement. Employees are encouraged to send in “kaizens for change” - for how the company could enhance operations and the work experience of their employees.  In 2019, the company received more than 21,000 kaizens - that’s more than 80 a day.  Those kaizens, from manufacturing, to packaging, to sales (and more) have saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually while raising revenue by over a million dollars.

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