A culture of listening – how and why HR need to make it a priority
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How can you build a culture of listening to engage employees? In a recent CIPHR webinar, David Godden of Thymometrics shared his thoughts
“Communication across an organisation has and always will be the foundation of running a successful and effective business. As a result, listening should be at the heart of every business culture and your people strategy,” said David Godden – VP of sales and marketing at Thymometrics – during a recent CIPHR webinar.
Listening is a process you need to follow – from getting employees to take part in annual surveys or arranging daily chats over Zoom, and then acting on the feedback you have acquired, there are many ways you can listen to employees, but why should you be paying more attention to creating a culture of listening in the first place?
Here we recap some of the key points made by Godden during our webinar where he discussed how and why listening to your people should be a priority.
What are the benefits of listening to employees?
Building a relationship of trust by listening to employees can act as a key intrinsic motivator for workers. Employees want to feel appreciated and valued at work, and listening to employees can help you do this.
“Having employees’ comments and suggestions listened to and acknowledged creates an atmosphere of loyalty and shows them at we’re all in this in this together,” said Godden.
If you want to retain staff, you need to prove that employees matter to you. “Employees simply won’t stick around if they don’t feel that they’re being listened to or if they feel undervalued,” he said. “It’s not just the pay or the perks that keep people in the company, it’s their daily experience of working in an inclusive and transparent workplace where their views are respected.”
Today, with employees dealing with the impact of the pandemic and other stresses, it’s more critical than ever that HR teams understand people’s emotions and struggles outside of work – something that’s only possible through listening.
“People go through all sorts of emotional changes on a regular basis, from stress to joy to uncertainty to anger, and never has it been more relevant to open the lines of communication with your people than over the last 18 months,” said Godden.
Three ways to make listening a priority
1. Invest in tools and technology
To experience the benefits of having engaged and loyal employees, you first need to ensure that you’re putting time and effort into building a culture of listening. One way you can do this is by investing in the right tools.
“An ‘always-on’ listening platform like Thymometrics can help you build your listening programme and run surveys to understand key issues in the workplace,” said Godden. One of the platform’s main benefits, he said, is “its ability to reach out to people or groups of people based on how they’re feeling about any aspect of their work life. Thymometrics is a continuous listening channel, so you can segment those who feel things have got better in the last six months regarding a particular factor, for example, or focus on those who feel the opposite.”
If you want to get employees to fill out surveys, Godden pointed out that pulse surveys – which are efficient employee survey systems that reduce the need for complicated questions and can be used frequently – are “a great way to extract information on a regular basis.” However, Godden also highlighted that continuous learning channels are the “gold standard” for listening as it allows for open lines of communication rather than giving employees a specific question to answer.
Listening tools that integrate with HR systems can be a big help if you want to embed listening into your HR processes. Thymometrics, for example, integrates with CIPHR HR, which means your people data can be automatically updated in multiple systems, reducing the time HR spends on administration while ensuring that the listening platform is relying on accurate employee data.
2. Make sure you understand employees
You should also take employees’ individual personalities into account when choosing how to listen to workers.
While 47% of webinar attendees said they use face-to-face meetings to listen to employees, Godden said it’s important to note that this method of listening won’t suit each and every employee.
“You need to provide a level playing field and promote a listening channel that is truly available to all.” Extroverts may be comfortable with sharing their opinion in face-to-face meetings, however, introverts may find online tools more helpful.”
3. Act on feedback
Once you have invested in listening tools and technology, you need to ensure that you are keeping communication as transparent as possible and acting on what employees tell you.
Godden said: “If you are listening and not really doing much about the inputs from your employees, particularly when people are feeling stressed or out of touch, this will have a huge effect on staff turnover.”
However, Godden added that you need to be aware that you won’t be able to accommodate everybody’s request. Instead, acknowledge what employees have told you, let them know that you appreciate their opinion, and, while you can’t act on it at the moment, you will keep it in mind for the future.
Being transparent with employees is crucial to improving the relationship between HR and employees, and, as Godden said, “it’s the companies that put employee listening first that’ll enjoy better productivity, performance and lower turnover.”
Watch the CIPHR and Thymometrics webinar below.