Shana Bosler
Director, Coaching,
Learning & Development
Emergenetics International

How is your organization soliciting and utilizing the voices of your employees?

In these unfamiliar times, it’s essential to hear from your staff to support company objectives, including:

-Enhancing employee engagement
-Promoting inclusion
-Inspiring innovation

Believing that your opinions matter at work is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. When your company and its leaders demonstrate a willingness to listen to and act on the feedback of staff, you can help motivate and inspire commitment from employees.

By soliciting and using the input of team members, you enhance inclusion because you are giving a voice to all staff, treating them with respect and making them part of the organization’s success.

When your team members are willing to share their ideas, you also increase innovation. All employees bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table and can raise considerations that your leadership team may not be aware of. By engaging employee voice, you can surface new, innovative concepts to push your products, processes and company forward.

Clearly, employee voice can have a powerful impact on any organization. The challenge may lie in creating an environment where employees feel encouraged to contribute their experiences, expertise and ideas. With remote working, you may also experience another hurdle in finding ways for staff to share input from across a multitude of locations.

To engage employee voice, I recommend utilizing the following steps to build a culture that embraces feedback and honors the ways each of the Emergenetics® Attributes prefers to share their insights.

Three Culture Considerations to Embrace Employee Voice

1. Encourage employee-centric leadership.

When leaders put their employees first, individuals are more likely to feel supported and encouraged to bring their thoughts, feelings, perspectives and ideas forward. A few specific ways you can demonstrate you care include:

  • Being transparent
  • Remaining accountable
  • Showing appreciation
  • Helping staff envision what’s possible for the future

For more ideas to put your employees first, read a recent blog post from our CEO Marie Unger.

2. Promote a positive, supportive climate.

Psychological safety – or the understanding that employees will not be punished for sharing ideas, mistakes, questions or hesitations – is essential in high-performing teams and a culture that celebrates employee voice. To foster an environment that honors psychological safety:

  • Ask for questions and concerns proactively
  • Set realistic objectives
  • Demonstrate an interest in the perspectives of all staff
  • Brainstorm without judgment

You can find additional tips in my blog post about psychological safety and the Attributes.

3. Take steps to reduce hierarchy.

Having hierarchy on your org chart isn’t inherently bad. It helps companies manage complexity and stay organized, and it can impede employee voice if the hierarchy becomes too rigid. To create enough flexibility in your organizational chart, take steps to:

  • Cultivate respect for all roles and responsibilities
  • Encourage staff to raise a recommended solution for any challenge they identify
  • Promote delegation and decision-making across the organization
  • Recognize individuals across the company for their ideas and contributions

Seven Specific Actions to Engage Employee Voice

1. Provide transparent access to information.

To get relevant, useful input, your company needs to be transparent with information. Providing access to clear, accurate data will particularly resonate with your Analytical team members. I recognize you may not always be able to share all information, and as much as possible, I encourage you to share information uniformly so that staff have access to the same data points.

You will be amazed by the brilliant ideas that can come up from across your organization and the level of trust your staff will feel when you operate with transparency.

2. Provide information in writing and with a personal touch.

Your staff will likely have a variety of preferences across the Expressiveness spectrum. Some may prefer to process data internally while others will prefer to process externally. To give all team members an opportunity to absorb the information you want their input on, share data through several mechanisms.

Include some that are written like emails, Intranet posts or an internal newsletter as well as live conversations through virtual or in-person face-to-face meetings, company gatherings or team discussions.

3. Ask for feedback in a variety of ways.

Your team members are also likely to be spread across the Assertiveness spectrum, meaning some will likely express their opinions directly while others may share their opinions in a questioning manner. To help staff feel comfortable sharing ideas, provide several avenues where they can express their opinions on specific and general topics.

Consider anonymous surveys, one-on-one meetings and public forums. Create online suggestion boxes where staff can view and vote on the ideas of others and include small group breakout sessions in all-staff meetings to give team members another avenue to share input.

4. Create opportunities for collaboration.

Employees with a Social preference often prefer to work with and through others, so it’s important to provide ways for groups of staff members to work together to raise new considerations or improve upon ideas. Try hosting collaboration events like a hackathon, engaging employee focus groups or establishing project teams dedicated to addressing a challenge or opportunity.

As you create these groups, be mindful to pull in employees from across your organization. Be thoughtful about including a mix of job functions, experiences, backgrounds and cognitive diversity to amplify results.

5. Show respect for all ideas.

To create an environment where staff are willing to provide insights, take care not to cast judgment on input or concepts. Doing so is particularly important for the Conceptual Attribute, which works best when they have freedom to ideate.

Set expectations that ideas and questions all have value and deserve to be shared. While not every idea will be acted on, that should not stop your employees from showing respect for the input of others.

6. Explain how employee input is being used.

Provide details on how the ideas will be evaluated and the process for integrating them into operations. Reviewing the how can help build trust with all team members that their ideas will be considered and will particularly resonate with the Structural Attribute.

I also encourage you to share any loose and tight rules your organization may have regarding receiving or implementing feedback. From the lens of Flexibility, which considers how an individual accommodates the thoughts, feelings and actions of others, these parameters are especially helpful.

7. Measure results and recognize staff.

As you embrace your employees’ voices and implement their insights, be sure to measure progress and impact. In doing so, you can celebrate successful change initiatives and identify areas for further improvement.

Take time to recognize your employees’ impact and celebrate the ways they’ve contributed to improvements, changes and new ideas. When staff feel appreciated, they are more likely to provide additional feedback and further spur innovation.

Elevating employee voice can be a powerful complement to the initiatives you’re already leading to drive success in your organization. By taking time to consider the needs of each Emergenetics Attribute, you can foster a culture that promotes inclusive conversations and shows all staff members that you value their inputs.

Want to learn more about how you can engage your employees in work? Download our latest eBook or connect with our staff by filling out the form below.