The rise of social media, coupled with the desire to build more engaged and productive workforces, has brought “active employee listening” to the forefront of management attention. No longer is it enough to encourage employees to speak up about topics that matter to them. Organizations today need to more actively solicit, analyze and engage in ongoing conversations with past, present and even future employees. Having access to the collective “employee voice” can help leaders achieve diverse goals, including identifying innovations, preventing discord and improving productivity, as well as building a better connection to the organization and its mission. So, how can organizations establish and manage mutually beneficial listening programs?
To better understand what companies are doing in the area of employee listening and the extent to which employees are willing to participate, we analyzed data from the 2015 IBM Smarter Workforce Institute WorkTrends Survey – a broad-based survey of over 24,000 employees from 23 countries, a cross-section of industries and job functions, and thousands of companies. We also conducted interviews with 12 organizations that have improved their listening capabilities and from emerging vendors in this space.
Overall, we found most employees want to share their voices, regardless of how the organization listens, and feel supported in doing so. Employees see the advantages of listening programs for themselves and their organizations, but also recognize the disadvantages of potential cynicism, conflict and excessive use of resources.