Rebecca Eckhart

Actions Speak Louder than Words

By Rebecca Eckhart on August 2, 2016

The importance of showing your employees you’re listening

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 46 percent of companies that conducted employee surveys didn’t follow through with any action based on the results. That’s essentially money down the drain. No company is perfect, every employee survey uncovers some area of concern. And in an increasingly competitive market for employee retention, companies can’t afford to ignore what is learned.

Listening to employees isn’t enough anymore. They want to see that their voice has been heard – no matter how big or small the issue. While not all employee suggestions are feasible (even they realize that), many are. The key is committing to invest the time to do something about it, and this can be hard. But with the payoff of maintaining and nurturing a dedicated workforce, it’s worth it.

So the question becomes how do you show them? Here’s three ways we’ve helped clients take action on things they were hearing from employees.

 

Act on what you learn.

You can’t do everything people ask for, but it’s good to show effort.

In the fall of 2013, Charter Manufacturing came to Core to help solidify their key messages, both to employees and externally. They wanted to better define who they were in order to maintain their current family-focused culture, and continue to grow the business in an ever-changing marketplace.

After conducting numerous focus groups with employees, we heard the same resounding themes. People worked at Charter because it felt like family. Employees were treated with respect and all ideas were welcome. It wasn’t me against you, but a team effort.

As a result, Core wanted to provide a motto that employees could rally around, but quickly share with partners and customer what Charter’s culture was all about. The result, “One Family. One Team.”

When unveiled to employees, some had tears in their eyes. The feedback was a resulting, “that’s us, that’s who we are.” Still in place today, and going strong, it serves as a reminder to all that they are a part of something greater, and a valued member of the team.

Be authentic. 

People know when you’re paying them lip service. When it comes to employees, doing so can border on offensive that they aren’t being taken seriously and are more of an afterthought. Believe it or not, employees can be reasonable and understand not every idea they have can be done. Otherwise, we’d all be making one million dollars.

Instead, look into the heart of what employees are saying and see if there’s an alternative action that works both for the company and employees.

 

Be visible. 

One of our clients has a CEO who is committed to walking the halls and interacting with employees on a daily basis. He also makes a point to eat in the company cafeteria nearly every day, joining various groups of employees. This, in and of itself, is admirable. But the results are extraordinary – and two-fold.

First, he has completely shattered any culture of fear within the organization. Every employee we interact with is quick to offer that one of the things they value is the accessibility they have and are free to share their ideas and observations with him directly.

Second, behavior is contagious. His actions encourage others within the company to engage and interact with people at different levels and roles within the company. And that’s what helps build a culture of trust – a key component to the company’s success and growth.

Any organization – big or small – can benefit from listening to their employees. And as these actions become commonplace, the behaviors don’t feel forced. And that results in leaders gaining a more accurate, and actionable view of what’s really going on across the company.

Rebecca Eckhart is a Public Relations and Internal Communications Strategist at Core Creative.