Voice of the Employee: Building a Strategy for Your Organization
Employees are a business’s most valuable asset. Their feedback, opinions, and sentiment form the Voice of the Employee—a real-time feedback loop of insights into the company’s direction, culture, and performance. By tapping into the voice of the employee, executives can harness their collective experience and intelligence to inform more insightful decision making from the top down.
In this article, we'll explore the significance of the voice of the employee and provide a roadmap to build a robust employee listening strategy.
- Learn how to improve employee engagement and productivity
- Identify shortcomings in training and company messaging
- Elevate the employee experience and customer experience
- Enhance employee retention and reduce voluntary turnover
- Improve the reputation of the brand and leadership
The benefits of measuring the voice of the employee
Measuring the voice of the employee (VoE) offers many benefits to organization. These include increased employee engagement and job satisfaction, improved retention, better decision-making, and a more positive workplace culture. By actively listening to employees and acting on their feedback, organizations can create a more productive and fulfilling work environment that promotes employee satisfaction while gaining a competitive edge in the market.
- Cultural Insights: Understanding the sentiments and opinions of employees can shed light on company culture. Positive changes based on employee feedback can lead to a healthier and more inclusive workplace culture.
- Early Issue Detection: VoE programs can proactively detect issues and concerns in their early stages. This allows organizations to address them before they escalate into harmful problems.
- Competitive Advantage: Companies that actively listen to their employees and take action based on their feedback often have a competitive advantage. A satisfied and engaged workforce can be a key differentiator in attracting top talent and winning customers.
- Legal Compliance: In some industries and regions, there are legal requirements for collecting and addressing employee feedback, particularly related to workplace safety, discrimination, and harassment. VoE programs help organizations stay compliant with these regulations.
- Innovation and Idea Generation: Employees often have valuable insights and innovative ideas that can benefit the organization. The employee voice is an important source of innovation that executives can harness by capturing and implementing employee suggestions.
- Employee Well-being: Addressing employee concerns and stressors can contribute to improved mental health and overall well-being among the workforce, reducing employee burnout and improving morale.
By listening authentically to employees and actioning the insights gained from the employee voice, businesses can increase employee engagement and reduce turnover by fostering a greater sense of inclusion and value. This strategy can drive higher productivity and save the costs and downtime associated with high employee churn.
Employee listening can also highlight training shortfalls. These insights can inform programs that help employees develop skills and grow in their careers. This has the added bonus of improving customer experiences, as happy, well-trained employees are more likely to know how best to support your customers and reflect their positive experiences with the company in those interactions.
Some feedback from employee listening strategies can be hard for leaders to hear, especially in organizations that struggle with culture health. However, voice of employee programs encourage open and honest communication that can help executives improve top-down messaging and understand what is going wrong within the organization, giving them a realistic chance of fixing it.
Webinar: Discover how you can unlock valuable employee listening insights from collaboration conversations
How to listen to the authentic voice of the employee
There are many different ways that leaders try to collect data on the voice of the employee. These include one-on-one interviews, focus groups, employee surveys and more. However, these methods can be expensive and time-consuming to implement, prone to biases, and often fail to capture real-time insights.
Who makes the decisions what questions to ask (or not ask) in annual employee surveys? Who leads focus groups and are they capable of convincing employees they’re in a safe space to be honest? Will negative feedback in a one-to-one interview reflect poorly on the person conducting it? And how long do the results of any of these methods take to aggregate, analyze, and deliver to leadership?
These difficulties are magnified in low-trust workplaces, where honest feedback is rarely provided. Even when told that their feedback is anonymous, employees may still be uncomfortable telling the truth if they anticipate retaliation, or they may already be too checked-out to care about improving conditions at the company. Distrust and apathy among the workforce make it futile to ask for honest feedback.
There is another way of listening to the voice of the employee. One that delivers honest, authentic feedback in real time. Continuous employee listening solutions, like the Aware IQ data platform, provide organizations with real-time, direct data from the voice of the employee. These solutions are easier to implement, allowing leaders to gather, analyze, and act upon employee feedback swiftly and effectively.
Employee listening best practices to increase employee engagement
To get the most from any voice of employee initiative, executives should think strategically about both the implementation of employee listening measures and how the data they generate will be analyzed and acted upon. By setting clear goals, proactively minimizing bias, and curating reliable data from the right sources, leaders can ensure the insights gained from employee listening are more authentic and actionable.
- Set Clear Goals and Objectives: Ensure that voice of employee efforts align with your organization's strategic objectives and there is a clear purpose for collecting employee feedback.
- Audit Existing Programs: Review current voice of employee initiatives to identify what's working and where improvements are needed.
- Determine Data Collection Methods: Define the specific data to collect and the methods to use, considering both traditional and modern channels.
- Ask Good Questions: Craft employee engagement survey questions that are relevant, unbiased, and actionable, enabling them to deliver meaningful insights.
- Make It Continuous: Employee listening should be a cultural value embedded in the organization's DNA, not just a periodic exercise or crisis management measure.
- Use Tools for Reliable Data Collection: Consider leveraging advanced tools and technologies, like Aware's solutions, to enhance the reliability and efficiency of data collection.
The best channels to collect voice of employee data
Employers have multiple channels at their disposal. A comprehensive employee listening strategy should utilize as many as possible to gain a holistic overview of sentiment in the workplace. Some of the most common channels include traditional methods such as annual and pulse surveys, focus groups, and one-to-one interviews.
Surveys can help leaders explore specific topics in detail and provide ways for employees to express themselves and deliver feedback anonymously. Focus groups and individual interviews allow the organization to engage in more interactive discussions into employee needs and drill into issues at a personal level with employees willing to engage.
Providing other channels through which employees can offer unsolicited feedback, such as suggestion inboxes and coworker appreciation and kudos nominations, can also help them feel supported and heard by the company.
The digital transformation also introduced new ways of getting work done—and new ways of listening to the employee voice. Collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex give leaders a new source of unfiltered, authentic employee voices. Today’s employees send over 18 trillion messages per year using these tools, and the aggregate insights they contain can transform every aspect of how a business runs.
How to collect and analyze the voice of the employee from collaboration tools
Collaboration tools are the only always-on source of unfiltered employee conversations. Using AI technology that can analyze these messages at scale can provide leaders with a continuous pulse on the shifting sentiment of the organization, organically surfacing the topics that matter most to employees as they occur.
Aware IQ data platform for employee experience supports employee listening initiatives with industry-leading, proprietary natural language processing (NLP) technology designed specifically for short-form collaboration conversations. Unlike email, collaboration chats are filled with slang, abbreviations, and emojis. They lack the formal structure of other written content, and flow effortlessly between public, private, and direct channels with little context. Making sense of these conversations requires technology that was built for the unique complexities of this dataset.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology provides the computing capabilities necessary to ingest collaboration messages and analyze them in real time, giving business leaders a real-time overview of changes in the mood of the organization and surfacing issues having the greatest impact on employees. Aware’s AI/NLP data models deliver near-human sentiment analysis for the most informed, actionable people intelligence insights available today.
Using these insights, executives can improve top-down communications by exploring timely reports on topics and sentiment surrounding campaigns and business processes, helping to resolve miscommunications in real time, while instant access to behavior insights enables data-driven decision making based on a majority consensus, not the opinions of a loud minority.
Webinar: How to drive employee engagement and satisfaction using people intelligence insights
Social media: The next source of people intelligence insights
Even within the most relaxed workplace, employees still sometimes self-censor on workplace tools. Now Aware’s technology is unlocking a 360-degree holistic view of the enterprise by extracting employee insights from outside the workplace. Learn what Aware’s data scientists discovered from analyzing thousands of frontline employee conversations on anonymous social media forums, and how you can use Aware technology to learn more from all the places where employees talk.
Study: What do frontline workers care about?
Aware elevates the voice of the employee
Unlocking the authentic voice of the employee has never been more important, and—thanks to the proliferation of digital collaboration tools—that voice has never been louder. Aware connects natively to all major collaboration tools using APIs and webhooks that do not impact the end user experience. Then, Aware’s proprietary NLP and AI models analyze messages to provide a real-time, continuous feedback loop of aggregate employee sentiment, effortlessly identifying the topics, themes, and insights having the biggest impact on the business.