The giant gap between the rich and the poor has marked our country’s economic landscape and caused outrage across the nation. You’re probably sick of hearing about it at this point. Movements such as Occupy Wall Street have called attention to the fact that in the midst of our emergence from this recession, there is still a large group of people who feel that they’re not being heard.
But this outraged group isn’t just numbers and statistics – these are employees. These same people who are marching the streets because they want their voices amplified in government and policy are the same people in your organization who are looking for a listening ear. Employee engagement is at an all time low, with only 14% of employees reporting job satisfaction.
If your employees are unsatisfied:
- Do you know why?
- Do you have a line of direct communication with the front line employees who keep your business alive?
- Do you only receive feedback that has been filtered through four layers of management?
Hourly and non-desk workers are on the front lines of your organization. These employees are the smiles that greet your customers at the door, the service that helps them get what they need, and the friendliness that keeps them coming back time and time again.
Many of your customers and biggest fans will never meet a salaried employee, yet in most organizations, hourly employees are unsatisfied and do not feel like they have a voice. In some cases, organizations are doing a decent job with “top down” communication, and some have even tackled horizontal (peer-to-peer) communication, but what about “bottom up” communications?
I’m not suggesting that you put out a suggestion box in your office/restaurant/store where people can hand-write a note that may or may not get back to upper management in a few months. That process is antiquated and still involves too many “middle men.”
What if a manager looks through those notes and decides not to send any negative feedback about him/herself to corporate? What if an employee wants to report a manager for theft, but cannot submit it due to threat of termination? What if the notes never make it back to upper management at all?
In order to get real and authentic feedback, you must keep it simple and remove all barriers. A management filter is a huge barrier, but so is requiring an employee to access a desktop computer and fill out a form. Sending a message from a personal email account can also be unfavorable. Many employees don’t want to mix business with their personal lives, and giving a corporation an inroad to a personal inbox is messy territory.
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But just in case you’re still not convinced that you need a better communication channel to drive engagement, let’s talk briefly about everyone’s favorite generation to hate on – Millennials. According to UNC’s Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace white paper, by 2020, more than 45% of your employees will be Millennials. The study lists coaching, collaboration, and measures/benchmarking (read: open channels of communication) as the top three things Millennials are looking for in the workplace.
There’s no doubt about it: this next generation is looking for an unprecedented amount of engagement with their employer. Forbes affirms this in a recent article: “Instead, if companies want to know what Millennials want, they need to engage in a dialogue with them. It’s a conversation.”
I could go on (What Do Millennials Really Want?) and on (Why Managers Invest in Millennials Engagement) talking about Millennial engagement, but I would love to hear from you. What are you doing to open the communication pipeline and give your employees a voice? Comment below or find me on Twitter @_hannahbeasley.