Employee Listening is In Vogue and HR Leaders Are Jumping Aboard

Elaine Demers Sr. Manager of Employee Experience & Engagement, People & Culture at Medallia talks about different practices and actions to make employees feel heard!

Employee Listening

The last year’s extraordinary events have led to massive changes in the world of work, including grappling with how to support and engage with employees who are now “invisible.”  With zero water cooler moments and only virtual online meetings and company Town Halls, how can organizations even begin to go about improving the experience of an employee they can’t see? Employee engagement has flatlined globally over the past decade and felt the pain of action plans left unaccomplished.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Companies started out strong when the pandemic hit, asking employees for their feedback more continuously. But now that we have gotten our wits about us and figured out how to work remotely successfully, tapping employees for their sentiment and innovative ideas to solve pressing business challenges has started to wane.

However, HR leaders are recognizing the value of the always-on pulse and asking employees, “Are you OK?” It’s a simple question, but there can be so many important answers from each unique individual across an entire organization. Those answers are a goldmine of data explaining how to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. According to a recent statistic, companies with highly engaged employees are 22% more profitable and have 18% higher customer retention rates.

Right now, when organizations are doing everything possible to maintain revenues and avoid turnover, asking questions, listening to the answers and taking action on the feedback has the power to drive innovation and growth.

This is why continuous employee listening has quickly emerged as a hot topic and the reason HR leaders are adjusting their employee engagement strategies; it is all in an effort to better keep their finger on the pulse of workers and ensure they feel connected, supported and heard.

Is the Annual Employee Survey Dead?

It isn’t, however more modern and effective techniques for staying connected with employees have emerged that don’t simply touch on overarching questions about the work environment and faith in leadership. Today’s employee listening is continuous and the insights lead to actions that show employees they are truly cared for and heard. When done correctly, the listening-turned-to-action has the power to inspire and motivate employees to be the company’s greatest asset.

While the annual survey holds great value, always-on anonymous employee feedback is a great way to capture sentiment from employees who want to remain anonymous but still want their opinions and voices heard. Having an always-on feedback mechanism is a great way to get a finger on the pulse of how folks in the org are feeling. When combined with text analytics and artificial intelligence, unstructured feedback can surface critical themes emerging from across the entire organization, including dissatisfaction with benefits, promotions and pay – all of which have tremendous impact on retention. It can be astonishing to see common themes arise from employee feedback that companies were completely unaware of.

For Vocal Employees, Video Can be an Asset

Across every employee pool, there will be groups of employees who prefer to share their opinions and sentiment in various ways. Some will be more vocal and some will want to remain anonymous. For the more outgoing who truly want their voices heard, video feedback capture is their “go to.” Video feedback enables employees to share snippets of their feedback via a video platform. The beauty of video is its ability to analyze these showreels for emotion, tone and sentiment. There are amazing insights being gleaned from video feedback. Technology can automate review of all of the feedback and present it back to HR leaders as insights, on a silver platter.

Taking Action on What You Learn is Key

On top of every employee having their unique experiences and wanting to share them in their own way, the company’s response to the issues is critical. Imagine an organization capturing an immense amount of feedback and having key issues raised from across the company, only to have management take no action on that data.

Fast and efficient responses can be precursors to slower and more impactful changes, but action is the key to showing employees they have been heard and the company cares enough to adjust.

It may not be possible to revamp an entire benefits program, yet letting employees know new options are being explored based on their feedback goes a long way.

Every employee continues to seek wellbeing and support from their employers (especially right now), yet employee needs are more concealed than ever due to remote and dispersed work environments. The voice of the employee is the new way HR leaders are engaging and staying connected to understand how to keep productivity moving, avoid attrition and make employees “seen.”

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Elaine Demers
Sr. Manager of Employee Experience & Engagement, People & Culture at Medallia
Elaine Demers is the Sr. Manager of Employee Experience & Engagement, People & Culture at Medallia which is a customer and employee experience management platform, focused on empowering every employee & improving the CX.


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