This article was updated on Sept. 6, 2018.
Your employees should have an active voice in your company. After all, their day-to-day work experience can provide them with a slew of great ideas on how to improve your business. Furthermore, employees who feel heard are more likely to be more loyal to your company. In fact, according to Forbes, one of the top reasons that employees quit is they grow tired of being "overlooked and ignored."
Here are some tips on how you can help ensure that your employees feel heard:
Have a True Open-Door Policy
In any organization, every employee should feel comfortable speaking to their fellow employees, regardless of their title. One way to encourage this behavior is to set up an open-door policy in which you specify that everyone is welcome to come to you with their thoughts about business processes or to share creative ideas.
It may not be enough to simply announce that you have an open-door policy, as entry-level employees might be too nervous to visit. Whenever employees do stop by, you should thank them for their time, even if you don't feel that their suggestions are in the best interest of the business. For the sake of full transparency, consider explaining why you may not adopt their proposal and allow the employee to use this as a learning opportunity. Before you know it, word will spread that you actually want to speak to employees and it's not just a gimmick.
Always Stay Positive
It takes courage for your employees to speak up. Whenever someone raises feedback or criticizes business processes, remind yourself to stay constructive. Avoid getting defensive or criticizing an employee's idea, as one bad incident could deter everyone else from speaking up in the future. If your employees always seem to agree with your ideas, it's possible that they are not truly speaking their minds.
Mix Up Your Communication Approaches
People communicate in different ways, so it's best to use a variety of approaches to encourage your team to share their opinions. For example, you can hold brainstorming sessions with people in different departments. Simply pick a topic, such as new product ideas or problems in the workplace, and see what people have to say. Their answers could surprise you. This strategy also serves to encourage different departments to interact on a more regular basis.
You could also create an intranet workspace or forum that allows employees to submit ideas electronically. Then, at the end of the month, you can address their comments in front of the entire office. This process ensures that all employees, even those who may be too shy to speak up in public, have a venue in which they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Reward Good Ideas
Another great way to help ensure that employees feel heard is to reward them for good ideas. If a team member comes up with a strategy that will help your bottom line, consider rewarding him or her appropriately with a bonus, promotion or by thanking him or her in front of the entire office. When awarding bonuses, be sure to comply with necessary wage and hour requirements. These types of gestures show that you truly appreciate your employees.
By taking a few simple steps, you can create a positive work environment in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.