The recent pandemic has created many challanges on the work floor. More than ever managers are dealing with a lack of staff, trying to keep up with constantly changing rules and maybe even redesigning their workspace. The pandemic also introduced a remote work culture that is here to stay. This makes it critical to know what goes on with your employees and to listen to what they want and worry about. They’ve been through a lot and need to know you’re on their side. In this article we will guide you through some effective listening techniques to help you better understand your employees’ needs.
Why is it important to effectively listen to employees’ needs?
When you practice comprehensive listening with your employees, both sides tend to win. Benefits include:
- A better culture at work: Workers today want a strong company culture. They want to work for a company that portrays strong values, supports diversity and treats everyone with respect.
- More satisfied employees: Employees aren’t robots, they are people with their own needs and worries. Making your employees feel heard and valued at work can make a huge difference in how happy they are there. Just be sure to do what they tell you to do.
- Increased productivity: If employees’ needs are met, they can work harder. This can lead to a better bottom line right away.
- More loyalty: We are in the middle of the “Great Resignation,” and many people quit their jobs to find better ones. Listening to your employees and meeting their needs can help build loyalty and make it more likely that you’ll be able to keep your best workers.
“MORE THAN 1/3 OF STAFF MEMBERS THINK THEIR COMPANY DOESN’T LISTEN TO THEIR IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENT”
When employees have a say, they are more likely to use it. One study found that 82% of the working force have ideas that could further improve the company. Sadly, even though companies want to find new ways to get better, the same study found that more than a third of those employees think their company doesn’t listens to their ideas.
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Is your company missing the chance to develop new ideas, make things more efficient and help customers by missing out on this valuable feedback? You can only find out by listening.
Reasons to Listen to Your Employees
You might think that it’s obvious to listen to employees. But if you look more closely, you might be surprised by how little listening goes on in the workplace today. In a survey of 675 professional workers in the U.S. and Canada, 64% agreed that “leaders making decisions without asking for input” was their biggest problem. This is one of the most critical problems businesses have to deal with.
Here are five reasons why your business needs to listen to your employees.
The work of the employees
In a recent survey, 38% of employees said leaders lack initiative when they don’t consider their ideas. One of the benefits of listening to your employees is getting a group of active and committed people to the company. Management, HR and department heads willing to let their employees use their creativity and initiative to do more extraordinary work. Active listening starts with you and will spread to your employees if you work on it.
Engagement and Innovation
Innovation is an excellent way to show employees how important it is to listen to them. Many companies try to get their employees’ opinions through contests, rewards and bonus systems. When companies support employees’ ideas, the company can improve its bottom line and keep the employee engaged simultaneously.
Taking the Initiative
Instead of always getting ideas, suggestions and feedback from the top down, crowdsourcing can be a great way to find out what employees care about. With the right tools, letting employees ask questions and getting involved can bring up problems that you need to solve. CEOs, Executive leadership and HR directors can use this data in real-time to find out what popular ideas, conversations and feedback are. This lets them act immediately and be proactive instead of just reacting.
Many employers make the mistake of moving forward with plans like benefits programs and bonus structures without consulting their employees first.
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Listening to employees’ worries can help you develop ways to keep them on board and boost their morale. A good program, encouraging employees to talk about their problems and be heard can help your retention rate.
6 ways to listen to your employees’ needs effectively
Do surveys first
Surveys are a great place to start if your employees don’t think they are ready to share their ideas or concerns in public or private forums. Engagement surveys help you determine how invested your employees are in the company and where you can make changes. These can be given regularly to see how and if progress has been made.
Pulse surveys are quick looks at what’s going on in a company. These can be especially helpful before, during and after something new happens in the business. Companies often try new options or ways of doing things when they want to grow. It’s essential to find out if they work or not. It’s important to know how they affect employees.
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You might think a change is good if it improves metrics in one area, but if it makes people less engaged and more likely to leave, the investment wasn’t worth it. For a project or new initiative to be successful, it is also essential to look at how employees feel about it. You might find ways to change the process to make it even better.
Just as important is what you do with the information you get. If someone asks you for your opinion and you don’t give it, that’s the worst thing that could happen.
Trainers know it’s better to ask a learner how to do something than to tell them. When you let people figure it out on their own, they can think through the problem, come up with a solution and feel proud of what they’ve done.
Once a worker is fully trained, the same benefits are achieved by continuing to ask for their thoughts and ideas, while also letting them work through problems on their own. You might think you spend all day listening to your employees because they provide a lot of input. But there’s more to listening than just sitting still while someone talks. Ask people what they think and what worries them. Look for ways to get your staff involved in developing and using ideas.
Front-line workers know how the organisation is doing. They know what customers want, what works best and what wastes time and money. The innovative business is the one that knows how to use this knowledge base. Using the information you get could help you make more money.
Don’t forget to listen
Listening should be a top priority, not just when you target “pulse surveys” or check-ins. Listening should be just as much a part of your job as anything else. Managers can build teams that work well together when they listen to their workers. When they don’t listen to their staff’s ideas and concerns, they cause churn.
All levels of staff should be encouraged to talk to their direct supervisor or management about their thoughts, ideas and concerns. Every company or group should have an open-door policy. Staff members want to be heard, so business owners need to make it clear that their ideas are valued and will be implemented.
Ask for innovation
We can do almost everything better, faster and smarter. Even the most common tasks can be done in a new way. Asking for ideas is a great way to improve how well you listen. When managers ask for opinions, they often worry that they’ll get answers that are silly or not useful. But even these things are chances for workers to improve their ability to think critically.
When a staff member makes a suggestion that won’t work, don’t just tell them it won’t work without explaining why. In addition to listening to them, you help them learn how to solve problems, which could lead to valuable innovations in the future.
Used to do something
Make sure to give credit where it’s due. The smallest kudos make employees shine. Some organisations have rewards as a part of what they do. For example, it makes sense to let employees know that ideas for saving money for the company could earn them a gift card. How big the reward is could depend on how much you save.
Don’t let it bother you
When listening to others, you often will be confronted with things you don’t want to hear. Employee complaints can be hard to understand, but it would be wrong to ignore them. The old idea that “if I ignore it long enough, it might go away” only worsens things. There is always a practical way to solve a problem, no matter how hard it is to get there.
If you worked hard to build a team and a lousy manager is now bullying them, you should face the problem head-on. If the manager can be retrained or the problem can be solved, making a change will help everyone. Remember that this is a business issue, not a personal slight. It will need a quick and expert business solution.
You inspire other people when you encourage your staff to share their ideas and then see those ideas come to life. It can have an effect that spreads through the whole business. The more you open your door (and your mind) to ideas and suggestions, the more ownership your employees will feel in their work and the company.
| >>> For an effective Digital Transformation process in your company, learn more about: AI in HR: How does it eliminate hiring bias? benefits and limitations.
Another important reason to listen to your employees is that it can affect your productivity. When employees feel like they are being heard, they feel closer to their bosses and more motivated to do their best work for the company. In addition to having tools that help you listen to your employees, having regular open forums like group Friday lunches, quarterly meetings on company goals, etc. can help create a culture of listening and open communication within the company.
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