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Dear Workforce How Do We Let Employees Know That Their Opinions Matter?

What actions can we take to demonstrate to employees that we value their opinions? We want to make sure they know their voices count in our organization. But we want to go beyond lip service and give them proof that we mean what we say. This is part of a larger effort to create a more open culture.
May 29, 2010
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Related Topics: Future Workplace, Corporate Culture, Dear Workforce
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Dear Solicitous and Sincere:
Employees want to know where your company is going and understand their role in helping it attain its business goals. This responsibility of leadership constitutes the real job of managing in the modern global economy. Here are 10 practical ideas to make sure employee voices are heard.
1. Hold town hall meetings. Share information and ask for input. One global information services firm holds quarterly sessions and recently created an online portal where the company's strategy was available along with critical measures. High-potential employees were invited to participate in brainstorming sessions regarding these new strategies. This was part of a key development program and did a lot for recognizing star employees.
2. Provide information. Even when business is not performing at the best level, it is important to share the truth. In darkest moments, the leaders need to share the light at the end of the tunnel. In the absence of knowing, employees think the worst.
3. Set quarterly goals. Every goal does not need to be a huge stretch. Set some reasonable ones that are easier to achieve. You might even consider eliminating the dreaded performance review, replacing it with quarterly goal-setting and face-to-face monthly progress meetings.
4. Develop recognition programs. Midlevel managers would appreciate a recognition checklist that helps them see the range of informal ways to say thank you. Train your managers and give them simple tools.
5. Invest in training. Customer-service training is intended to help employees understand how they impact the customer experience. Through this, you also could learn what they value. One hospitality company in San Francisco introduces the concept of "knock-your-socks-off service" at new-hire orientation. Every new employee is asked to name a favorite shopping experience. This activity creates a connection with the new person and helps the company's culture come to life.

6. Write "thank you" notes. I know this sounds old-fashioned, but these notes can have a big impact. We are all pleased to get feedback, especially when it is not expected. Have simple cards prepared so that you can give one out each week to deserving workers.
7. Create cross-functional task teams. Give employees a chance to participate in a team problem-solving task force. Use your shared intranet to post the problem for the quarter and ask those interested to volunteer on a team. Highlight their suggestions at an all-hands meeting. Act on those who present sound solutions backed with business case analysis.
8. Create a wellness team. To underscore that you value employee wellness, dedicate a group of employees to research projects and plan some wellness activities. Several health care organizations in Southern California have used this approach to gain measurable business results, including reduced absenteeism and increased contributions to 401(k) programs (since they also addressed "financial wellness").
9. Highlight career opportunities. Offer detailed write-ups on career paths and an online job bank with skills defined for key categories needed. Enhance internal postings. Offer career-coaching lunch-and-learn sessions. Build online references for expanding skills.
10. Assess leaders. Take the time to develop managers and train them on engaging and respecting employees. Have managers make visible simple investments that support openness, such as open-space floor plans or new ways to communicate and share knowledge across teams. There are some inexpensive Web tools that help promote sharing.
Reassess how your business works and how you might inspire your team. Ask your leaders if they are willing to focus attention, time and budget on engaging talent. Start small, but take action to show your employees that this is important to you and your company.
SOURCE: Sherry Benjamins, S. Benjamins & Co. Inc., Seal Beach, California, May 3, 2010
LEARN MORE: The article "What Drives Engagement in the Digital Age?" disputes the long-held corporate notion that more money is the best way to manage employees.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
Workforce Management Online, May 2010 -- Register Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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