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Why we need to listen to the voice of engagement

March 7, 2011

In February 2011, the CIPD ran their annual Employee Engagement Conference. It was here that all things engagement related were discussed, reviewed and sold! One of the things to come out of the Employee Engagement Conference was a subsequent discussion on the ‘employee voice’, where the prevailing opinion appears to be that the employee voice is essential to employee engagement, a ‘critical factor for success’.

Interestingly, thrown into this debate was the involvement of Unions. It was considered that for some industries and organisations employee voice was valued through participation in the Union, whereby communication partnering processes could be implemented, providing a mechanism to listen to the ‘employee voice’.

For companies that are global, it appears that the general consensus of opinion is group wide engagement strategies are not necessarily the correct solution. Employee engagement strategies should be owned locally as cross cultural behaviour and norms may be quite different across the business and a ‘one size fits all’ is not the key to engagement but listening to people within separate countries and providing a strategy that is bespoke for them is the key to making the employee voice work at a local level.

At Employee Feedback we produce a number of reporting options at the end of the survey process whereby a review of the feedback for global companies can be seen, broken down by country, sector and/or division – whichever denominator the client would like. Reports of this kind often clearly show where the differences lie and it is often recommended that the key factors that remain the same through the business make part of the employee engagement strategy, then local strategy inclusion of elements where key differences occur can be made. We believe that this provides a ‘best of both worlds’ solution – providing a common foundation framework with local elements bolted on too. This provides a company wide strategy that also relates at a local level too, ensuring that the employee voice has been listened to in order to develop something that is relevant to them.

Listening to the employee is nothing new or revolutionary, just resurgence in the discussion of the topic. It is often the case that we can get carried away with producing a policy, procedure, strategy and forget that it is often the people working for us that it will impact – the employee voice is indeed crucial if we are to get employee engagement right, we cannot engage people without asking employees their views and responding to their comments.

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