The pandemic has made it more important than ever for employers to listen to their staff, while also highlighting how difficult it can sometimes be for employees to make themselves heard.

In the first of a series of guest blogs, Doug Grant, marketing manager at Stribe, explains how businesses that actively engage with their staff enjoy improved productivity and better rates of retention.

Employees’ needs are changing. Every employee has their own needs, and everyone is at a different place in their life. This can make creating solutions that promote employee engagement, wellbeing and mental health tricky to get right.

The rise of remote working, boosted by the pandemic, has created a set of individual, team and work-life stressors for us all to contend with. It has instantly become more difficult for firms to offer the same level of office-based support to their teams.

This has created a need to find quick, simple solutions that can help support the mental health, wellbeing and engagement of employees, wherever they are. Being able to monitor each individual’s needs will be crucial to the effectiveness of teams in this new world of work.

Active listening

No employer wants to lose good staff, and not all staff who leave really want to do so. In many cases exit interviews reveal reasons for leaving that could have been addressed if the employer had been aware of them earlier.

When organisations listen to the needs of their employees, there is a 20 per cent reduction in staff turnover, with current employees nearly five times more likely to perform their best work. This displays the power of listening as an engagement tool, which can create real behaviour change.

As an AON study demonstrates, engaged employees also become positive advocates for their firms and are likely to recommend them to potential future employees. This is especially important in a sector that relies on recruiting highly skilled workers, with an organisation's reputation playing a key role. 

Growing engagement

Firms that invest in the right tools and technology, make engaging their workforce a business priority, empower their people with a voice to be heard, and entrench purpose as a cornerstone of their culture, are set to rise above the competition.

As we move out of the pandemic, firms must find a balance between office working and home/flexible working. The pandemic has shown us that trusting employees creates a working environment where they feel supported, listened-to and free to get on with their work, thus enabling organisations to grow faster.

We must ensure that we are asking our colleagues how they are feeling, what is working and what is not working. To promote honest feedback, it is also necessary to provide channels via which employees can communicate ideas and concerns anonymously, without fear of repercussions.

By understanding our colleagues' needs, not only can we increase engagement rates, and thus retention rates, but we can also support the growth of our organisations. 

Case study: Fingers on the pulse

Over the past 12 months Stribe has, in partnership with the consultancy firm MAPD Group, worked with the law firm Jackson Lees to help implement a regular programme of employee consultations. Based around "pulse" surveys, Jackson Lees has been using the findings of this programme to support the ongoing development of its culture.

Gemma Ellison, director of culture and employee engagement at Jackson Lees, explains, "Culture is something that needs constant work. It’s never done. The last six months have really tested our culture and shown that the work we’ve done around it has been the right thing to do. 

"We’ve used pulse surveys to find out what culture means to our employees and what they think culture is like at Jackson Lees. It’s only when you get honest feedback that you can make the right changes. To our people, culture is a common feeling of togetherness, and a feeling of, ‘This is how we do things here.’ 

"The key to a positive and strong culture is making sure you’re always talking and listening to your employees. It’s important that you measure how your culture is progressing, and pulse surveys are helping us with that. Pulsing questions out to our teams at regular intervals helps us progress and stay on the right path. 

"The data we get from this has helped us draw comparisons and see common themes. It’s been particularly helpful over Covid when teams switched to remote working, and some managers struggled to trust their teams. We had the data from Stribe to show how important trust is, and we could demonstrate with the data that teams in the business who feel really trusted are more productive."

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Over to you

Over the coming months we will be asking readers of the The Brief how they feel about a range of issues that have an impact on employee engagement. We will publish our analysis of your (anonymous) responses in future articles.

The first of these questions is:

How do you feel your firm understands its employees’ needs and priorities?

(Sliding scale from ‘Not at all’ to ‘Completely’)

Follow this link or scan the QR code below to submit your answer:

Stribe QR code 24-03-21

The Brief in collaboration with Stribe 

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We’re a Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work For: 2016, 2017, 2018