Well-being, commitment and innovation often suffer when employees feel they are without ‘voice’ in an organisation. Employee voice is key to ensuring that ideas and knowledge from across the workforce can be harnessed to drive innovation in product design, service delivery and improvements to working practices.
Research shows that if employees don’t feel confident in speaking out at work, negative emotions like resentment and anger bubble up, which can shut down creativity and chip away at motivation, productivity and performance.
If this happens on a department or organisation-wide scale, the overall drop in performance can be significant – and cause further problems such as increased attrition. Strong mechanisms for employee voice therefore protect against a host of challenges that stem from the psychological demands of being forced to remain silent.
The employee voice is being stifled
Despite this, evidence suggests that in recent years there’s been a fall in the proportion of organisations with collective arrangements for employee representation and voice in the workplace.
There are three main purposes for employee voice:
- To shape how the organisation functions (through idea-sharing, problem solving and employee commitment).
- To highlight issues that may have damaging consequences.
- To address the fundamental rights of individuals in the workplace, which contributes to a sense of meaningful work.
Feeling unable to share matters important to them can have a negative impact on people’s well-being, undermining their commitment to the organisation and blocking innovation. How safe people feel in speaking up is driven by leadership style and culture.
Listen to employees: unlock the future
Employee voice helps organisations make better decisions. Organisations are operating in an increasingly complex, disruptive world, and the idea that a small team of people in a boardroom have all the knowledge, experience and insight to respond accordingly is losing favour.
Strong employee voice and participative management allows organisations to tap into a vast source of knowledge and insight spread across the organisation. This means senior leaders can make decisions with more complete information, and a more diverse knowledge-base. The benefit? Better outcomes.
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