Employee Engagement

The majority of businesses believe that ‘employee voice’ has a positive impact on engagement and performance, according to new research. But employers – particularly larger organisations – remain wary about workers using social media to express opinions about their company, found the survey from IPA and Tomorrow’s Company.

Respondents to the latest IPA study define employee voice not just as allowing staff to express their opinions and ideas, but as organisations actively listening to and involving employees in decision-making. The majority feel that employee voice helps drive employee engagement.

Interestingly, businesses report that the main barriers to accessing employee voice arise from staff themselves. Overcoming cynicism and securing staff buy-in were cited as top challenges by the 200 firms canvassed.

But nearly half of employers (46 per cent) discourage the use of social media to voice views about the company and one-fifth forbid it. Only 7 per cent of the businesses surveyed encourage the use of social media networks for this purpose.

Instead, organisations tend to use a variety of longer-established channels to access employee voice, the research found.  The most regularly used channels are team meetings and line manager/one-to-one discussions, which are both used by over 80 per cent of organisations. These are followed by staff surveys (74 per cent) and direct contact with senior managers (72 per cent).

Indirect or ‘representative’ channels such as trade union meetings are becoming less common methods of accessing employee voice, but are more likely to be used by larger organisations. Meanwhile, smaller employers prefer to use direct contact with senior managers.

“Employee voice is increasingly important in the modern workplace… it is one of the enablers of employee engagement and can significantly impact business performance,” said the report. “But employee voice remains both little understood as a concept and under-utilised in the world of work.”

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