Canadian HR Reporter

April 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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F E A T U R E S 22 www.hrreporter.com BUILDING CULTURE BY EMPLOYEE VOICES IN June 2019, Wayfair employees in the United States walked out in protest of their employer selling goods to border detainment camps, while airline food workers walked out calling for higher wages. Examples like these of employees speaking out against employer actions have seemed never-ending, even prompting the government to step in and ensure they're able to voice their opinions, when federal regulators in the U.S. ordered Google to assure employees they are allowed to speak out on political and workplace issues. What's more, corporate shakeups, layoffs or executive transitions — such as the departure of Google's head of HR — can cause even more uncertainty among employees and raise questions about their overall job satisfaction. While these situations can seem damaging, they also offer an opportunity for HR professionals and company leadership to turn the negative into a positive by dedicating time and resources to rebuild their culture through the voice of the employee (VoE). What is the voice of the employee? Similar to the voice of the consumer (VoC) — where companies take steps to gather input and understand customer feedback about their technology, solutions and overarching brand — VoE asks employers and leaders to invest time and energy in gathering feedback from employees to understand how workers feel about their workplace and culture. Companies need to foster a work environment that encourages employ- ees to speak their minds in a construc- tive way, and to do so, employers need to communicate with employees, not at them. Employees hear from their employer all the time, whether through town halls, company-wide meetings, corrective action to proactively build a positive company culture. How can employers seek the VoE? To capture the VoE, companies need to formalize their data collection process. Once done through tools such as SurveyMonkey and executed on an ad hoc or annual basis, employee surveys are inconsistent and informal feedback channels. These are ineffective methods of creating a culture of feedback. Annual survey data can easily fall into an administrative black hole where HR professionals develop program recommendations upon which executives may not act. Instead, companies must formalize feedback methods through a holistic approach. Employers have many options for capturing employee feedback regularly and enabling managers or leaders to take immediate action. Always-on digital channels can provide real-time feedback directly to managers. In addition, quarterly or annual surveys paired with these channels and one-on-one meetings create additional avenues for employees to provide feedback. Just as culture-building and retention efforts are continuous, seeking the VoE is an ongoing process. Incorporating technology and setting up multiple feedback channels captures employee feedback any time and anywhere. Taking action Beyond simply listening to employees, employers have to take action. Almost all (90 per cent) of workers say they're more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback, yet 23 per cent say their employers are "horrible" With employee activism trending and the workforce showing a strong desire for their opinions to be heard, employers need to step up. But they must be prepared to act on the feedback, says Vanessa Brangwyn of Achievers C U LT U R E / E N G A G E M E N T email updates, internal newsletters or social tools, but these are all one-sided communications. Proactively seeking VoE builds a culture of feedback where employees feel safe and empowered to express their honest opinions, concerns, problems or feedback with managers. Seeking this feedback provides company leaders and HR professionals with insight into the workplace environment, enabling them to take action to improve employee engagement. What happens without the VoE? Employers that don't seek the VoE could miss out on achieving true employee engagement. Even worse, they could be unaware of larger, systemic workplace problems such as cultural misalignment. For employees to feel engaged and happy at work, they must gain meaning from their work, which is driven by understanding and believing in the employer's vision and values. When employee and employer values aren't aligned, it's detrimental to employee productivity, engagement and happiness — consider unengaged employees have been shown to have higher absenteeism, lower productivity and lower profitability. While nice to have at work, posters on values in workplace hallways or biannual culture awards are both one-way activities. Alignment to cultural values is about developing two-way channels. This means holding both employees and the organization accountable for celebrating achievements and actions that live up to corporate values. That's why it should be a common practice to actively seek VoE, to determine whether there's a cultural misalignment and, if so, to take CULTURE COMES FIRST FOR CANADIAN WORKERS Sources: Achievers, Staples 2 in 5 Workers who wouldn't accept a job that wasn't a perfect match if the corporate culture clashed 9 in 10 Workers who said a candidate's fit with the employer is equal to or more important than their skills and experience 1 in 5 Workers who would take a 10-per-cent pay cut if an employer cares more about their health and wellnesss 8 in 10 Workers who say that sharing a similar work ethic is something they look for when considering a new job

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