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Say What? How well do you listen to your employees...

One of the largest challenges for any organization is finding, hiring and keeping good people. Even during tough economic times, having the right people in place is paramount to any company’s success. So how do you make sure you have, and are able to keep, the “right” people? We decided it was time to give more than lip service to listening to what our employees have to say.

One of sdg’s core values is Employee Experience. There are a number of things we do as an organization to try to deliver a great experience for all of our employees, including the formation of our Employee Experience Committee (e2c).

This voluntary team consists of primarily consultants who analyze and discuss internal survey data, informal employee feedback and any other topics they feel might be important to our employees. Then the team makes recommendations to ownership about how sdg can continue to reach organizational goals, while maintaining high job satisfaction for our employees.

I recently attended a breakout session at a conference entitled “The Ethics of Performance” presented by Charles A. Weinstein, PhD, hoping to get some good information and ideas for an initiative this team is working on. The session turned out to be even better than I anticipated. When Dr. Weinstein started talking about “Fair Process,” I remember thinking that our e2c is all about Fair Process!

Dr. Weinstein identified 3 elements of Fair Process:

1. Engagement:

  • Stakeholders are invited to participate
  • Participants have an opportunity to be heard

2. Explanation:

  • Process and rationale are clearly explained
  • Explanation is respectful and even educational

3. Expectation Clarity:

  • Implications for stakeholders are clearly articulated
  • Everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them

He also identified what Fair Process is NOT:

  • Democracy
  • Concensus
  • Happiness or Contentment
  • Accomodation of individual wishes or whims
  • Command relinquishing legitimate decision authority or accountability
  • Just being nice

Fair Process promotes trust and CAN result in higher levels of employee satisfaction.

The very nature of our e2c team is an example of Fair Process. Stakeholders are directly involved and have a voice, we don’t cater to individual requests, but focus on similar feedback from multiple sources, and the team is responsible for making recommendations, not decisions. We are realistic in our process of trying to positively affect the overall employment experience, knowing what we accomplish could have little to no effect, or even a negative impact for some.

So far, this concept seems to be working for us by giving employees another, potentially less intimidating, outlet for ideas and opinions. The team not only provides perspective our management team might not be able to, they also become a sounding board for all employees, lending credibility to the decisions made.

The downside? There are a lot more voices… and you have to be ready and willing to hear them.

The e2c team is only part of the bigger employee experience picture, but it is a very important part at sdg. It demonstrates to our employees that we ARE willing to listen and consider their ideas and feedback. Will we act on every single idea? No. Will we consider every idea? We will certainly try. When you hear from your peers that they were part of a discussion about an idea you presented, sometimes that’s enough.

Everyone just wants to be heard.