Lip Service – do your employees really have a voice?

Lip Service

– do your employees really have a voice?

Employee Voice

Recently on the blog we’ve discussed the 5 Enablers of Employee Engagement:

1) Strategic Narrative
2) Leadership
3) Employee Voice
4) Integrity
(Engage for Success)

5) Involvement

In this blog we want to give you some ideas on how you can give your employees a voice, so first let’s start by understanding what it is.

Within the first Engage for Success report to government employee voice was described in the following way:

 “Employees’ views are sought out; they are listened to and see that their opinions count and make a difference. They speak out and challenge when appropriate. A strong sense of listening and of responsiveness permeates the organisation, enabled by effective communication”

Ensuring your employees have a voice enables them to take part in dialogue across your organisation about matters, which impact the current and future performance of an organisation. If you have a strong employee voice, conversations will take place, which are genuinely two-way, and are not about paying lip service to the concept. Giving employees a voice provides them with the opportunity to positively impact their organisation on a variety of levels: the jobs they do, the organisational culture, your products and services, and the way it feels around here.

So how do you go about developing employee voice?

There are some organisational pre-requisites, which help to ensure employee voice is authentic and effective, rather than seen as yet another initiative. Like so many aspects of engagement, employee voice at a first glance appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward concept, which should be easy to implement. The reality is quite different. Firstly there must be good levels of trust within your organisation. Employees are not going to express their ideas or contribute to a conversation if trust is low. Employees won’t speak up if they feel that their contribution is subject to negative consequences in any way. Employees need to feel safe to speak their minds without fear of any reprisals. You only have to consider the need to reinforce the confidentiality of engagement surveys, or focus groups for example, to see that trust is often difficult to build and all too easy to loose.

Line managers also play a critical role in, not only building trust within an organisation, but also facilitating employee voice. A report published by IPA and Tomorrows company, which looks at the role of employee voice to ensure sustained business success, identified some key characteristics of leadership that empower employee voice. They list these as

  • openness
  • good communication
  • approachability

The report argues that this style of leadership helps to encourage employee voice.

IPA and Tomorrow’s Company (2012) have developed a model, which details the critical elements of establishing employee voice.
The model advocates focusing on the following factors to establish employee voice :

  • understand the purpose of voice within your organisation e.g sustainable business success
  • outline the outcomes of voice e.g engagement, commitment and performance
  • outline the culture and behaviours associated with voice e.g. a culture of trust, openness and transparency
  • put in place the structures and processes required to develop and support employee voice e.g regular listening groups, employee representative structure, an enterprise social network or employee app which encourages conversations


Employee Voice Model

Click image for larger version

We are experts in helping companies develop their employee voice. If you would like a no-obligation chat with our employee engagement expert Emma Bridger to find out how we can help your organization, click here.


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