“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley
According to research conducted by SHRM, over 50% of HR professionals regard employee retention to be one of the major challenges over the next decade! It’s not only difficult to find good people to hire in the first place, but a task to keep them engaged within the company.
Talking of engagement levels, 87% of employees today feel disengaged at work. While there are multiple reasons to support this statistic, one key reason behind this staggering number is that employees feel unheard in the organisation. It was revealed in a recent study that one-third of the workforce believe their employers do not lend an ear to any of their ideas. Employers who really want their business to flourish, should not overlook this number.
Let’s dive straight into why the art of listening is a fundamental skill that the employers need to possess if they are looking to build an organisation composed of well-rounded and happy employees working for them and how to let employees know that you are listening.
Are You Really Listening to Your Employees? Here are Ways to Show That You Are!
Why Listening is Important in an Employer-Employee Relationship?
Listening is one skill that is highly underrated, but one that is also highly important for employers to develop. It is essential that two-way communication exists between an employer and an employee, where it is as convenient and easy for an employee to speak up and share opinions as it is for an employer to do so.
Don’t just speak, but listen too. A look at some of the top companies of the world will give a clearer picture as to how important listening to your employees is.
For example, Facebook holds weekly live-streamed Question and Answer sessions, thereby providing an open floor to all employees to ask anything that they may be seeking answers to. These sessions don’t have to be the regular run-of-the-mill discussions, but actual discussions which let the employees know that the company is inclined towards keeping a transparent work culture in the office.
Here are a few pointers that will compel you to take up active listening as an essential business skill:
1. Transparent Working Environment:
Millennials, who occupy a major chunk of the workforce today, need to know that they are working for an organisation that is transparent.
According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, 96% of the job seekers say that they would like to be associated with a workplace that embraces transparency.
If the companies want to attract relevant talent, they have no choice but to adapt their policies and really start listening to their employees’ concerns and demands. If a leader wants to enjoy their employees’ trust and loyalty, it is critical that they always stay transparent.
2. Trust and Loyalty:
Trust is the key differentiating factor between successful and unsuccessful teams is . Trust between team members creates something called ‘psychological safety’, which is nothing but the easiness with which they can speak up, share ideas, take risks, etc. within the team.
Building trust amongst your employees is no easy feat. The best way is to keep your ears open to what the employees are talking about and actually listen to them.
‘Organisational Conversation’ is about replacing the traditional one-way corporate ‘lectures’ with actual conversations.
Your internal communications need to be as robust as your PR correspondences because employees are your first customers. Listen to your employees to not only create a product that ultimately your customers will love but also to build an organisation where people love working.
3. Companies Want to Grow:
Taking a cue from the above-mentioned point, if a company truly wants to drive innovation and witness substantial growth, they should be talking to their employees. According to the Workplace Research Foundation, employees who are engaged are more likely to aid growth and achieve better productivity.
What is the best way to keep employees engaged? Listening to them, especially those on the front-line, who know the weaknesses and strengths of the business.
Collecting customer feedback is a great idea to understand the psyche of your customers. Similarly, listening to employees’ feedback is a great idea to catch the pulse of your company and improve where you lack.
Ways in Which You Can Show Your Employees That You Are Really Listening!
1. Help Employees Speak Up:
A study states that more than 40% of the junior-level staff feel insecure or afraid to bring ideas or concerns to top management. This barrier will always exist if your employees feel uncomfortable speaking up and therefore, letting voices go unheard.
The first step towards developing an open culture where listening to employees is an everyday part of the whole process, is to pave a way for them to speak. Provide a platform or different avenues for employees to be heard first-hand, in the form of quick surveys, anonymous forms, open Q&A sessions etc.
This will at least remove the initial hesitation and help the employees open up and share their opinions.
2. Listen Actively:
Passive listening is not going to get a company anywhere. All the Q&A sessions and surveys conducted will go down the drain if the queries raised in them go answered or unattended. When an employee is raising a concern or sharing an idea, develop the habit to actively listen to what they are saying.
Gather feedback, ask questions, and encourage employees to elaborate more on their inputs, and be invested in the conversations. Ensure that you repeat what they say to drive down the point that you actually heard them and also to avoid any possible miscommunication.
3. Negative Feedback:
Treat employee feedback with as much seriousness as customer feedback. Prepare yourself to hear what’s good, and bad, according to the employees. It’s only when you allow employees to point out the things that aren’t working, that they really start to trust your interest in their feedback.
Also, how you respond to the negative feedback will pave the way for future conversations and how willing they would feel to share anything. Irrespective of whether you like or do not like what they say, it is important to show them that you are really listening to them.
4. Act on It:
Actions speak louder than words and the saying couldn’t be any less true for this situation. You don’t have to act on every suggestion and idea, but sift through the different ideas and genuinely take actions on the ones that will have a positive impact.
Also, listening to your employees is not a one-time or bi-annual activity that you have the liberty to indulge in as an employer. It is an on-going activity, one that needs to be built into the process. Let your employees know what actions are being taken, in tandem with the suggestions that they shared in the first place. Use technology or other communication tools to share the results of the surveys and follow-on actions.
Listen to your employees to boost employee engagement and job satisfaction, which will ultimately help to have a positive impact on your overall business.