Ensuring your employees feel happy and excited to come to work every day plays a much larger role than you may realize. Employee satisfaction or engagement affects productivity, employee retention, company culture, and more. One of the easiest methods for increasing employee engagement is to make your employees feel heard.
According to an article published by Forbes, employees who feel as though their voice is being heard are 4.6x more likely to feel motivated to perform at their best. If your employees feel hesitant to communicate with you or your management team, it is going to affect the overall efficiency of your operations. Being open to hearing your employees and making sure they are aware of this fact is an important step in improving the overall effectiveness of your team.
Embrace employee feedback and use it
When employees feel as though their ideas and thoughts are welcome, they will be more likely to communicate with you. An easy place to begin with this method is by reaching out to your employees and asking for feedback.
At first, you may find that your employees are hesitant to come forward or are not providing you with the most honest answers. That’s okay. To help build that trust and level of comfort with your team, consider incorporating the following:
- Distributing surveys: Surveys have always been an effective way to acquire information. If you feel as though your employees are lacking a feeling of trust towards your management team, allow for the surveys to be submitted anonymously. While this option does not allow you to follow up with your team on their responses, some employees may feel more comfortable being completely honest if they know it won’t harm their standing with you or the company.
- Conducting one-on-one check-ins: To establish trust, you must first establish relationships with your employees. Most employees are not open books. When conducting one-on-one meetings, do not simply ask your employees about how the progress of their work is going; ask them about how they are. Showing compassion and showing you care will help to establish those strong relationships you need to gather honest feedback. Your team may then even be inclined to offer you feedback during such meetings after some time.
It isn’t simply enough to embrace employee feedback, you should also be working to incorporate their ideas wherever possible. In doing so, you are reaffirming the idea that your team is listening and that their ideas are valued. Even if you choose not to incorporate every idea brought to your attention, acknowledge your employees when they offer ideas. Whether you choose to thank them privately or in a team meeting, make sure to still provide praise for coming forward.
Incorporate an open-door policy
It is not uncommon for employees to be more open with each other than with those in Human Resources or with members of the management team. This occurrence is natural as there is a greater feeling of camaraderie between employees who consider themselves to be at the same level. One method of combating this obstacle is to establish an open-door policy.
Open-door policies, when done properly, can help promote transparency, increase productivity, and improve communications in your organization. When establishing an open-door policy, the following need steps need to be done:
- Set boundaries: Again, compassion is an important quality to have when being a leader. However, you are not a therapist for your employees. Understanding the difference between issues that you can solve with them versus those that need to be elevated to a different resource is crucial. Additionally, your employees need to understand what is appropriate to discuss and what is not. Once you have set your boundaries, follow through on them. Do not play favorites and do not simply accept the same employees constantly coming to your office week in and week out.
- Develop a schedule: Having an open-door policy does not mean your door needs to be open 24/7. Establishing a schedule and making your employees aware of this schedule is imperative to have this policy be a help and not a hindrance. Aim to set aside two hours at least two days a week for employees to come to your office to have conversations that do not exceed 30 minutes. If necessary, allow employees to schedule follow-up appointments with you if 30 minutes is not enough time. By adhering to a strict schedule, it will provide you with enough time to remain productive while still addressing the needs of your team.
- Eliminate distractions: When your door is open and an employee comes to talk with you, do not take calls, answer emails, or converse with other employees walking by. This time you’ve set aside is for them and only them. If you’ve properly set aside time and developed a schedule as previously recommended, you should not encounter such problems. Giving your employee your full attention during this time is crucial to having an effective open-door policy. Respect your employees’ time and they will respect yours.
Once you’ve created your policy and incorporated it into your regular schedule, you may find that employees are more likely to come to you ready to talk and to bring things to your attention. At the very least, your team may feel appreciative to at least have this option in place.
Give credit where credit is due
Acknowledgment and praise both play large parts in helping your employees feel heard and valued. In this article published by LinkedIn, the author notes that the number one reason employees leave companies is because they do not feel appreciated. To keep your employees feeling satisfied and appreciated, hard work and effort should be regularly acknowledged.
If an employee comes to you with an idea, praise them in the next team meeting. In front of your team, acknowledge the specific employee, praise their contribution, and give them credit for the idea or for a job well done. It is great to praise your employees while conversing one-on-one with them, but it can have a greater impact when done in front of others. Not only will the employee you acknowledged feel valued, but it will provide an incentive for other employees to follow suit.
Be a good listener
Hearing your employees and listening to your employees are not one and the same. Hearing someone is simply an action, but listening to them is actively choosing to concentrate on their words and take in what they are telling you. Anyone can incorporate the above methods for show, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically make your employees feel heard. Sincerity is everything.
When your employees do come to you, take note of what they said even if it seems small. Did your employee mention any details about their family or home life? Remember what was said and ask them about it later. Something as simple as this proves to your employees that you are listening when they speak to you. It helps establish that close connection and builds trust in you as their superior. If you can prove to your team that you are listening to them even for the small things, they are going to feel heard and be more susceptible to communicating with you on larger matters.
Everyone wants to feel heard, regardless of whether it’s among friends or among colleagues. It makes one feel respected, valued, and appreciated to know someone is truly listening. As a leader within your organization, it is your job to help make your employees feel heard. By using the following methods and being genuine in your efforts, we are confident that you will be able to establish strong relations with your team and improve their productivity at the same time.