Effective Employee Listening Uncovers Opportunity for Progress and Protection

Businesses increasingly recognize the need to effectively listen, support, and engage their employees. Taking steps to understand employees’ experiences can help companies identify which strategies and programs work well, and opportunities to move the needle on what matters most to employees. In turn, developing an employee listening strategy can drive meaningful engagement and impact business goals.

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Employees are eager to share their feedback with their employers, and they do so for all the right reasons, including wanting to drive positive change in their organization. Yet, many employees (up to 40%, according to Workforce Institute) – and executives – don’t believe their feedback leads to meaningful, actionable change.

Employers must demonstrate a proactive willingness to implement feedback to ensure employees are happy, useful, and feel safe at work. Taking a more agile and resilient approach to managing talent by elevating employee listening helps organizations understand what’s happening within their workforce so they can take action to improve their experience and ultimately boost employee engagement.

Importance of Effective Employee Listening

The thriving companies of tomorrow will succeed to instill (or re-instill) the notion of reciprocity in their relationship with their employees. This can be supported via a solid investment in their employees through the implementation of advanced listening strategies where everyone sees their rich and diverse ideas translated into organization-wide change or innovation.

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Robust systems need to be employed to support organization-wide listening to employees’ needs and expectations, and to implement methodologies that augment talent skills, knowledge, competency, and overall effectiveness. The key to unlocking the potential of employee listening is having an integrated, strategic approach.

Initiating Change with Advanced Technology in Employee Listening

Understanding employees’ desires is critical to effectively addressing existing gaps and building a strong organization. It takes an appropriate employee listening technology to reveal the nuances in employee sentiments and needs that, in turn, reveal critical cracks – and strengths – in the organization itself. HR leaders require the right tools to analyze employee feedback quickly and accurately, especially at an enterprise scale.

Yet, until now, the available tools have been incapable of capturing some of the variations – and most important aspects – of employees’ experiences. With the advancements of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated technology, many organizations can now benefit from tools to listen to employees and collect feedback more easily. In fact, some AI systems are specifically trained on HR content and actual employee comments, which help acknowledge what employees truly need so employers can act upon employee feedback and make a difference in the workplace.

Utilizing employee listening technology, employers can organize and analyze data with lots of specificity to focus on particular sentiments, view it in relation to a specific topic or question, and more accurately filter the information to a defined department, geographic area, and so on for better micro level analysis. Leveraging technology for purpose-based listening can help employers get more precise in understanding their employees to ensure they are happy and useful while working for their organization.

Creating Safer Workplaces

Beyond listening to employees to affect positive change, active employee listening can also help organizations spot and address potentially negative issues before they arise to make employees feel safer at work.

AI-powered employee listening solutions can be an effective tool for flagging and curbing workplace aggression before it occurs by highlighting employee behaviors. Some solutions enable employers to identify and filter comments for feedback that might be deemed confrontational, hostile, or racist. Many employee listening solutions allow HR leaders to search for specific words and phrases that could be interpreted as threatening or displaying the characteristics of a person who might warrant attention.

Systems that help HR leaders quickly flag sentiment and content that might be problematic empower organizations to take proactive, immediate actions based on comment analysis. It’s also important to consider the quality of the data from employee listening tools to carefully analyze and properly determine what is considered biased behavior. Using purpose-based listening can help ensure employees are in the right frame-of-mind to receive feedback based on threatening behavior or sentiments, while protecting the interests of the wider organization and creating a safer work environment.

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Employers need to be more proactive in effectively engaging their employees by listening, learning, and acting to drive positive change. Businesses should demonstrate to employees that their thoughts and opinions are valued, recognized, and that their feedback can help create a better workplace across the entire organization. Implementing effective employee listening strategies to make meaningful organizational change and create safe workplaces will help reduce turnover and create healthier, more productive, and more purposeful employees which ultimately drives better business results.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]