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Article -> Giving a Voice to Employees

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Date Added: December 2004

Engaged employees are a key element to organizational success, yet many organizations do not measure employee engagement. Leaders say they know their employees are engaged, but few organizations have processes to ask and validate employee engagement levels.
 
Employee engagement relates to topics such as having the right materials to perform a job, receiving feedback about performance, and having opportunities to learn. Several employee research studies reveal that compensation is not the highest employee motivator. Compensation may rank in the top five or seven employee motivational factors; however, factors such as recognition or training typically rank the highest. Recognition may be as simple as thanking employees, offering them a gift certificate, or giving them some time off.
 
Employee engagement has a direct correlation with increased revenues. Employees that are engaged with the company typically have higher levels of productivity. Higher employee productivity transfers to customers, and customers receive better service. This equates to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in increased revenues.
 
A 1 percent increase in employee productivity can equate to a 1 to 5 percent increase in revenue. If this is the case, why aren’t more companies measuring employee engagement – even if to validate leaders’ perceptions that employees are engaged? Why guess about employee engagement when it can be measured and correlated to revenues?
 
While an employee engagement analysis is one method to measure employee engagement, there are two other methods. These include an employee satisfaction survey and a 360-degree employee analysis. Taken together, the three methods provide a comprehensive Voice of the Employee to help employees become completely engaged in an organization.
 
The 360 analysis allows employees to rate themselves, while also receiving feedback from their leader, peers and direct reports (if they have them). It also provides employees with personalized training opportunities to develop skills in areas such as teamwork, leadership and communication. The employee satisfaction survey provides the organization with department and/or division information related to corporate culture, career development and working conditions.
 
Employee engagement provides an umbrella for the Voice of the Employee process by combining employee training opportunities with department and/or division gaps, resulting in a comprehensive view of employees and their role within the organization. Voice of the Employee allows employees to understand why they come to work each day and how they impact their department/division and organization as a whole. This understanding improves employee productivity, resulting in increased revenues.
 
Individually, the costs quickly can add up for an organization to implement all three of these methods, which may be a reason why Voice of the Employee isn’t measured as often as it should be. Unique Business Solutions, a business consulting organization, has developed an exclusive Voice of the Employee process that incorporates all three of these methods – employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and a 360-degree analysis – for the same investment as any one by itself.
 

Measuring Voice of the Employee provides a high return on investment (ROI) for a relatively low cost. For example, an organization with 50 employees and revenues of $2 million may invest $10,000 to measure Voice of the Employee. Based on a minimum 1 percent increase in revenues, the result is an additional $20,000 in revenues – a 100 percent ROI – not to mention gaining extremely valuable employee information.
 
While employees are the focus of the process, ultimate results and development lie with leaders. Success begins with leadership. The company president must embrace the Voice of the Employee process by recognizing its impact on revenues. The president’s staff must communicate the importance of Voice of the Employee to other leaders and all employees so it is clearly understood by everyone. Leaders must engage others by being engaged themselves.
 
If organizations take the time to ask for the Voice of the Employee, they must listen to it – and ultimately act on it. A failure to act will result in greater employee disengagement. Only by asking, listening and acting will organizations truly understand how engaged employees are. This takes the guessing game away and provides organizations (and leaders) with an opportunity to look into the mirror to honestly determine how they are performing and delivering on employees’ needs.
 
In a time when recruiting and retaining employees can be a differentiator for a company, organizations need to understand why employees are choosing to remain (or leave). The only way to know is to ask. Engaged employees also add value because they tell others about how great the organization is, thereby helping recruit new employees. They can become an organization’s best recruiters.
 
Engaged employees provide higher levels of customer satisfaction, resulting in increased revenues. The only way to measure this and make it a strength for your organization is to ask for the Voice of the Employee, listen to it, and act on it. The results will follow.

This article was featured in Marketplace magazine on December 1, 2004. S:\Knowledge Center\Articles on website\People\Giving a voice to employees. marketplacedec04.pdf

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