This is a four-part series. Over the coming days, we'll cover a new listening technique with real examples from Best Workplaces™.
At many companies, there’s a huge disconnect between how management sees the culture and how employees experience and talk about it. To eliminate that gap, smart companies create and implement employee listening strategies that give them a clear picture of employee engagement and their overall workplace culture.
How employee listening strategies improve engagement
To create a better workplace culture, you need to start with a clear picture of the employee experience at your company.
If you don’t know what problems employees are having at work, or what areas of your culture they like and dislike, any changes you make will essentially be wild guesses based on your own assumptions rather than concrete data.
Every company implements listening employee strategies differently, but when we look at how the Best Workplaces do it, a few practices repeatedly appear:
- Leverage employee groups and committees
- Ensure authentic follow-up on employee feedback
- Create engagement through multiple channels
- Periodic employee engagement surveys
Over the coming days, we'll cover each listening technique with real examples from Best Workplaces.
Leverage employee groups and committees
One way to create effective communication opportunities for employees across the organization is to use groups or committees.
There are numerous ways to engage committees, but the most effective ones create avenues for employees’ voices to reach leadership on a regular basis.
Kimpton Hotels: People and Culture Team
Photo: Employees at Kimpton Jane Q Restaurant.
This team’s duties include:
- Working with HR to ensure that organizational culture and the employee voice remain strong across the entire organization
- Keeping their regions informed about internal job openings
- Helping determine culture fit for those who are looking to move around in or enter the organization
Their work supports and promotes the development of both the over-arching organizational culture and the unique regional sub-cultures across the company.
Alston & Bird LLP: Firm committees
Photo: Employees at Alston & Bird LLP.
The firm's 29 official committees and 10 task forces range from proactive to inactive and from essential to light-hearted. The "Diversity Steering Committee", "Women's Initiative" and "Connecting Through Diversity" are just a few examples. Over 500 employees participate in at least one committee; many serve on multiple committees.
Leaders at Alston & Bird LLP take advice and direction from each committee.
"The Women's Initiative serves as a sounding board and resource toward maintaining, updating and evolving firm policies, such as Alston & Bird's Alternative Career Path and parental leave policies," the firm explains on their website.
These groups give everyone a chance to be heard. They also break down boundaries that might exist between departments or roles, helping achieve the greater goals of the group.
Bright Horizons: Better Together Groups
Photo: A wall of thank you hearts from employees at Bright Horizons during Employee Appreciation Month - one way the company shares the employee voice.
These communities of employees work together to create a great work environment. Here are just a few things they do:
- Welcome and orient new employees
- Solicit input on challenges and solutions
- Roll out initiatives
- Host charity events
- Develop morale- and team-building activities, professional development and training opportunities and awards celebrations
- Participate in accreditation and communication efforts
- Manage community involvement programs
Representatives from each division of the company also form the National Better Together group, which meets with leaders to share employee ideas and concerns.
Four Seasons Hotels: Direct Line Committee
each hotel has a "Direct Line Committee" made up of employees from each department.
The Committee meets personally with the General Manager on a monthly basis. No other managers are present, which facilitates an open and honest exchange.
Kimpton encourages Direct Line Representatives to prepare for these meetings by asking colleagues what issues they think should be discussed.
At these meetings, the General Manager also updates the attendees on issues that have been previously brought forth. This shows the employees that their input does make a difference.