Employees are valuable assets, not only for what they do but also for what they know.
How can companies engage employees without listening to them? They can’t. One of the employee attitudes that Temkin Group has found to be highly correlated with employee engagement is “My company asks for my feedback and acts upon my input.” However, we also find that organizations are falling short.
• Companies aren’t soliciting feedback. Only 32 percent of customer experience professionals indicated that their organizations always or almost always actively solicit and formally act upon employee feedback.
• CX programs aren’t delivering employee insights. Only one in three customer experience professionals feel that their voice of the employee program is either extremely or very effective in helping to improve the customer experience.
• Acting on employee feedback isn’t an executive priority. While 67% of companies measure employee engagement at least annually, just four out of 10 executive teams place a high priority on taking action on these studies.
Blueprint for an Employee Listening Program
Where should you take your company’s employee listening efforts? There are four areas where employees’ insights can be valuable to organizations: employee satisfaction and engagement, employee experience improvement, customer experience engagement, and customer experience improvement.
In order to build a comprehensive employee listening program, we recommend starting with these components:
• Annual survey. At the core, companies should annually measure employee engagement and ensure that action is taken on that feedback. As efforts advance, employee engagement should be established as a key organizational metric.
• Pulse survey. To better understand changing dynamics in the workplace, organizations should monitor employee engagement, as well as the factors affecting it, more frequently by using pulse surveys sent to a rotating sample of employees on a quarterly (or other periodic) basis. This enables organizations to identify potential issues sooner and intervene in a timelier manner—if necessary.
• Online forum/social network. Employees often have relevant observations and ideas to share outside the timeline of formal survey processes. Online forums provide a continuous, moderated platform for the company and its employees to ask and answer questions about both the employee and the customer experiences. As organizations mature, they will be able to take advantage of technologies that support more sophisticated employee listening and peer-to-peer sharing including microblogging and wikis that capture both employee-generated content and the extended reaction of content ratings, “likes,” and reader comments.
• Employee council. In order to encourage employees to define and drive actions derived from employee and customer feedback, companies should form a dedicated group to work with their leadership teams. Although it can operate under many names, this group of employees meets on a regular basis and commits to making defined contributions to ongoing prioritization, action planning, and efforts to engage their fellow employees in improving employee experience, customer experience, or both.
• Ad hoc listening. Occasionally a company will need to dig deeper into an issue uncovered through other employee or customer listening efforts. If your company is not in a position to establish a permanent employee council, then this can be accomplished by implementing facilitated focus groups or 1:1 interviews. Because employees are a valuable source of input when introducing new products and services, ad hoc listening can also be a critical element of their development and launch processes.
What’s most important is that companies start tuning in to what their employees have to say about topics that are important to the organization. And after tuning in, it’s equally important that companies close the loop as well. Have a process in place for engaging business leaders to review feedback and determine next steps. Closing the loop also includes communicating with employees to thank them for their feedback and keep them informed about what the company learned and what actions it is and is not able to take.
Learn more about improving your employee listening program through five case studies in the Temkin Group Insight Report Best Practices for Actively Listening to Employees.