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Lending a Ear: Why Letting Employees Voice Opinions Creates a Healthy Work Culture

Companies with above-average levels of employee engagement outperform companies with below average engagement by 46% to 58%.
~Fast Company

Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. To elaborate further, employees don’t leave companies, they leave cultures.

Among all employee related issues, attrition is still the biggest problem faced by HR managers today.
Let’s take the case of Justin, a twenty something graphic designer. Having lived most of his life in New York he moves to the west coast for a job.

Justin is enterprising, creative and has a drive to learn and grow in his career. He is also out of his comfort zone and is eager to experience a new culture and environment.

He enters his job as a junior graphic designer at a company in California. He gets into the groove of the workplace and connects with his team mates and colleagues quite quickly. Justin is adjusting well to his new job and life in a new city.

However, three months down the line, things start to take a different turn. Justin is a creative person and thrives on collaboration and expressing his ideas. His peers don’t take to his attitude very well and start to feel threatened by his talent and ideas. His manager too discourages him from sharing and implementing his ideas.

Six months down the line Justin starts to feel stifled and his confidence and enthusiasm begin to wane. After eight months Justin decides he can’t take it anymore and starts to hunt for a new job, one where the culture is more encouraging of people who like to engage and collaborate on projects through idea-sharing.

Inclusive culture plays a significant role in employee retention. Therefore, creating a culture where employees can use their voice is important.

Read on to understand the benefits of and how to create inclusive culture within your company, and the role of technology in enhancing this process.

Diversity and Inclusion Workplace

Diversity is who you hire. Inclusion is how safe and welcome those you hire feel within the work environment.

The days of the carrot versus stick based leadership are passé. People are more aware and confident of their goals than ever before.

No longer is a pay-check the only criteria for choosing a job. Employees also look at work culture, flexi-time and potential for growth while deciding on a role.

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, the number of employees who mention inclusion as a top priority rose 32% from 2014 to 2017.

Ignoring the ontological aspects of employees will not bide well for any organization. Human beings are nuanced and ignoring this will dampen the growth of an entity.

Ultimately, work and productivity are the main focus and employees have to be aware of this. However, psychology and interpersonal dynamics influence productivity to a large extent.

While it is not possible to control what happens within one’s personal life, it is possible to regulate the work environment to some extent.

A perfect work culture is a pipe dream and should not be sought after. Problems and conflicts are inevitable within a work environment.

However, with the right policies, training and awareness building, it is possible to create a work culture where most employees feel comfortable and are able to express their opinions, ideas and feedback without hesitation.

Day by day, the need for employees to know that their opinion counts is becoming more important.

Workplace inclusion is crucial for better customer relationships and higher financial performance.

More often than not, companies focus more on improving diversity only. This is because diversity results in a strong bottom-line.

According to Gallup, Diversity leads to better sales and rise in stock prices. This is because of being able to reach out to a more diverse customer base.

However, diversity alone does not result in better business unless you add inclusion to the mix.

Work cultures that incorporate diversity and inclusion have the following advantages:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

  • Employee Retention
  • Higher levels of Commitment
  • More Innovation
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Well-being and Trust
  • Less Conflict and less stress
  • Less Organizational Turnover

How to Create an Inclusive Work Culture

“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
~African proverb

HR leaders often struggle with implementing diversity and inclusion in a workplace.

Building an inclusive work culture can be done through experience and deliberation.

Workers must feel valued and respected within their teams and the larger whole.

Nurturing an inclusive culture is a combined effort of employees, managers and leaders.

Treat ALL Employees with Respect

This is a no-brainer in that it’s obvious that disrespect leads to turmoil and dissatisfaction on the job.

According to a Gallup survey, 90% of workers who say they are disrespected also experience discrimination in the workplace.

“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you come home.
~Aretha Franklin

Respect is the most basic human need.

Unfortunately, a large number of employees around the world report that they are not treated with respect on a regular basis.

Lack of respect can also lead to bad behavior at work.

An atmosphere of mutual respect makes employees feel comfortable being themselves.

Workers also freely share their opinions and ideas without fear of being judged.

Inclusive teams reward employee contributions and encourage collaboration.

Employees who can be themselves at work are more engaged and perform better than those that feel stifled.

While encouraging employees to be themselves companies should also maintain a healthy work environment.

Organizations should succinctly convey what behaviors are appropriate and those that will not be tolerated.

Few ways to make employees feel respected:

  • Do not underestimate an employees’ potential and knowledge level. Some employees may not be vocal about their skill level. This does not mean they are less able than their more communicative peers
  • Create a forum where employees can confidentially voice their grievances. Try to be as neutral and objective as possible while offering solutions. In any case, lending an ear is enough to give workers an outlet for their stress.
  • Avoid nepotism and biased judgment. As much as possible, try to maintain fairness while evaluating each and every individual.
  • Have a no-tolerance policy for bullying, harassment and bad behavior in the workplace. Under no circumstances should any employee feel entitled or privileged.
  • Good work culture is not built in a day. Adopt an attitude of continuous improvement using feedback and reviews.

Recognize and Value your Employees

Give Credit where it is due!

Inclusion is a combination of individuality and belongingness.

This is possible through stable interpersonal relationships.

Workers need to be themselves and not feel like a mere cog in the wheel.

Meeting these two basic needs will bring about creativity, better job performance and reduced turnover.

Workers should be recognized for their differences and not discriminated against.

Most importantly, recognizing employees for what they do best and rewarding them for a job well done is crucial to inclusive culture.

Communication Matters

Communication is king!

Create a forum where employees feel heard:

· Provide a platform and dedicate time to listen to workers’ ideas and opinions on a project or subject
· Do not douse anybody while they express themselves. Ideas need to be heard irrespective of whether they are implemented or not.
Allowing for self-expression in a professional manner is helpful. Employees feel that they can express themselves and this is a good start.
They also feel that the organization genuinely listens to and values their point of view. All this goes a long way in morale building.
· Do not play favorites. It is inevitable that when one persons’ idea is chosen the others might feel excluded. However, finding means to reward people for idea-sharing can mitigate differences among peers.
· Learn the art of communicating negative feedback in a polite manner that doesn’t damage ones’ confidence.
· Resolve conflict and communicate bad news without crossing boundaries of polite etiquette.
· Technology helps: Adopt an intranet or mobile communication app to engage workers and
encourage them to share their opinions.
Some people feel more comfortable sharing through the written word rather than speaking it out.
Virtual communication can feel like a safe space where opinions can be more easily expressed.
However, monitor all channels to prevent cyber-bullying and online harassment.

To add to these practices, establish policies that clearly define acceptable and prohibited communication and behaviors. Adopt best practices so employees are made aware of boundaries and appropriate verbiage.

Sensitize employees about respectful and professionally appropriate communication.
Provide ample leeway for self expression so that individuality is not compromised.

Inclusiveness and Engagement are Interrelated

51% of engaged employees view their organization as perfectly inclusive.
~Gallup

Employees need to feel that raising their voice against discrimination is worth it.

A large percentage of engaged workers feel that reporting discrimination would result in the employer taking appropriate action.

Engagement and inclusiveness are closely related. Engaged employees feel that their voice is valued – an important criteria for inclusiveness.

When employees are engaged it results in an almost 22% improvement in your bottom-line.

Employee Engagement App

To facilitate employee engagement you need an employee communication mobile app.

This employee engagement platform should use chat, recognition cards, surveys and polls to connect the entire workforce.

Groupe.io is one such mobile-first employee communication platform.

It connects the entire workforce – desk, non-desk, off-line, frontline, distributed and remote workers.

On-boarding is possible without a corporate email id or intranet access.
Groupe.io is secure and GDPR compliant.

It is free for 100 users and rolls out in 24 hours.


For more information on Groupe.io write to us at info@groupe.io or schedule a personalized Demo today.

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