The extreme volatility of a company's external environment can tend to overshadow the importance of decisive internal factors. Among these, paying attention to internal voices, particularly those of our employees, is a guarantee of sustainability. Figures show that taking into account the opinions and initiatives of the organization's driving forces boosts productivity and strengthens commitment.
Two figures are revealing: 72% of HR leaders admit to having difficulty retaining their best talent. Is it a coincidence that 76% of these professionals have only one monthly meeting with their managers? Feeling valued, understood and supported is essential for employee retention, and these attitudes are a response to the various contemporary organizational challenges.
So how can managers listen effectively to their teams? It requires a flexible, agile and caring strategy. A successful employee listening program must address the current and future needs of the workforce.
What is Continuous Employee Listening?
Continuous Employee Feedback is a proactive organizational strategy aimed at understanding and continuously improving the employee experience. It goes far beyond a simple annual survey, integrating constant feedback throughout the employee's journey within the company. The program offers real-time insights into key organizational indicators, such as engagement levels or reasons for leaving.
Prioritizing an exceptional employee experience is critical to the success of any business, as it encompasses everything from talent management to ongoing engagement throughout the working life. When employees feel valued in this way, they are more inclined to provide honest feedback on various aspects of the organization.
At the heart of listening to employees is the ongoing capture of feedback to understand and improve the employee experience.
This uninterrupted feedback loop provides companies with invaluable insights, enabling them to achieve their objectives while continuously improving the workplace experience. Denis DESCAUSE
Adopting this approach propels an organization towards an employee-centric model, fostering an environment where open communication, innovation and psychological safety are paramount. By putting employees' voices first, organizations make informed decisions, leading to concrete benefits:
This regular monitoring ensures that HR and management teams stay in tune with employee views on everything from leadership dynamics and compensation to corporate culture and benefits. What's more, continuous dialogue facilitates rapid action, as managers are equipped with real-time insights into their staff's aspirations, concerns and ideas. In such an environment, employees feel listened to and valued, and organizations can respond with agility to their needs.
A few key figures concerning continuous employee feedback
- When their hierarchy doesn't listen to them, 34% of employees consider joining another team or even a new company rather than taking the first step.
- Employee effectiveness increases by 74% when they feel their voices are taken into account.
- Only 16% of employees feel that the information communicated on operational changes and strategic objectives is really relevant.
- Global demand for tools focused on regular feedback and employee engagement is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 13% from 2021 to 2026. This upward trend is driven by the growing recognition of the importance of regular feedback collection in performance and job satisfaction.
- Nearly 60% of those surveyed expressed the wish to receive feedback on a daily or weekly basis. This preference rises to 72% among professionals under 30.
Analysis of these figures highlights a gap in organizational communication: considering a role change rather than raising concerns is a worrying sign. With one in 6 employees considering corporate communications to be genuinely useful, there is clearly a need for a more agile and empathetic corporate systems approach.
Sources of figures used: Ifop, Deloitte, Gymlib, Gartner (ex CEB), Linkedin, Lucca, Qualtrics, StaffCircle.
How to create an effective continuous listening strategy?
To implement a successful continuous listening strategy, spread the responsibility for gathering feedback across all teams, leverage various channels for varied input, cultivate a culture where employees express their opinions in complete confidence, and visibly implement changes guided by their feedback.
Historically, corporate practices were different: the emphasis was on transmitting messages to employees, making communication an essentially one-way exchange. Today, companies complement the annual performance review with continuous feedback and opt for a two-way communication model, actively engaging with their teams, assimilating their perspectives, and demonstrating genuine recognition of these contributions.
Sharing responsibility for returns collection
For a successful feedback mechanism, its management must not be limited to HR or management roles alone. The whole company needs to be involved through 360° feedback: with leaders setting the direction and mood for engagement, HR providing guidance and ensuring effectiveness, middle managers acting as catalysts for engagement, and employees actively participating.
Corporate ethics should be geared to the success of every procedure. Devote time and resources to training leaders in effective managerial postures. In particular, facilitate open conversations between management and operational staff and contributors. This creates an environment where feedback is given willingly, and decisive action follows, demonstrating a genuine willingness to listen and adapt.
What are the key elements of a regular, effective listening strategy?
The essential components of an effective regular listening strategy include stakeholder knowledge, ensuring that all relevant parties are informed and involved in the process; survey diversity, using a variety of survey methods to collect comprehensive data; transparency, maintaining clear and open communication throughout the initiative; and action planning, creating a structured approach to implementing the feedback received.
Knowledge of stakeholders
It's always a good idea to start by identifying your key stakeholders, whatever strategy you're planning to develop. Before you can begin developing your strategy, you need to secure the support of these key players. Without their full support, your regular listening project may not achieve the desired results. In addition to the HR department, your organization's key stakeholders include :
- Leaders to approve your strategy,
- The IT department to provide technological support
- Marketing to support the brand
- The legal department to manage data protection issues
- Operational managers to act as role models (and encourage participation).
Specific stakeholders may vary from one organization to another. It is therefore essential to assess your organization and identify the key stakeholders who can contribute to the development of an effective regular employee listening strategy.
Diversity of survey models
Whatever the number and type of tools you might use in your employee listening strategy, surveys will always play a major role. The last thing you want is for your employees to tire of filling out surveys.
If you administer too few surveys, you run the risk of not getting the real-time information you need. Conversely, if your surveys are too long or too frequent, your employees may quickly lose interest.
Listening in itself doesn't have a direct effect; it's the actions taken as a result of listening that take precedence. Listening without acting is absolutely counter-productive.
So be clever about the number and frequency of surveys. For example, you could propose a small survey (five questions) each week and compile these mini-surveys to share with the whole management or department. In this case, managers have the opportunity to discuss the answers each week. Act quickly if necessary to show employees that you are listening to them and valuing their feedback, thereby increasing job satisfaction and productivity.
This is perhaps the most crucial element of a successful regular listening strategy. It's always essential to share the results of your listening practices. This, in turn, will improve participation rates, increase job satisfaction and strengthen engagement. At the very least, be open and transparent about what you've learned from your employee listening strategy.
Authenticity is the keystone of your approach: if you have ideas to implement, share them with all team members. Be honest, too, if there are circumstances that prevent you from sharing certain ideas with your employees: tell them you're looking into the matter and will decide what to do next once a resolution has been reached. It's also a good idea to adopt this approach consistently, so that your employees know what to expect at all times.
The main objective of a regular employee listening program is to obtain relevant feedback and transform it into beneficial actions for the organization as a whole. Your organization should be able to produce an action plan within a few weeks of receiving employee feedback. Always show your employees and the whole organization that you are doing something with the information you get from the listening program. Employees will be more inclined to stay with an organization that takes their feedback seriously, from collection to action. For example, if your survey shows that employees aren't happy with the time tracking system, you could follow up with some to find out exactly what the problem is. If the problem concerns the navigation system, you could prepare a short presentation or training session to teach them how to use it effectively.
What topics require communication with employees?
Employees seek information from managers on a variety of topics, including updates on operational changes, organizational goals and initiatives, day-to-day cultural experiences, personnel changes such as new hires and departures, and broader industry news and perspectives, particularly in areas such as Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
Listening to our people is an integral part of a wider conversation, which in turn creates a virtuous circle. In this context, conversations can only flourish if managers first provide employees with essential information on key topics.
Here are the most sought-after items of information that employees want to receive:
- Procedural changes and policy adjustments.
- Strategic objectives, future plans and new initiatives.
- Cultural components of everyday life, illustration of values.
- Announcements concerning staff arrivals and departures.
- Sector information, including competitor outlooks and industry trends.
- HR details: benefits and issues of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
Continuous employee listening has the potential to improve the overall employee experience. If the employee listening strategy is well executed, it can result in an employee-centric organization where the employee's needs are paramount. Employees become active contributors to the company's overall growth and success. Several methods can be used to learn and understand what employees think and how they feel about certain aspects of the organization. In this way, you can turn employee feedback into a valuable resource for developing an action plan for workplace improvement.