Speaking Up at Work | DCR Workforce Blog

Speaking Up at Work

When it comes to having a voice and the right to freedom of speech, even the founding fathers of this nation knew its immense value. Everyone nowadays has a lot to say and so many ways to say it. Facebook, a text, graffiti on a wall, a bumper sticker or a petition – all of us are constantly voicing some opinion. Yet, when it comes to something as important as our job, we’re somehow hesitant to speak up. After all, we don’t want to say too much or say something wrong and end up getting a pink slip the next day. Our manager is our boss, not a confidant. In the work place, strong lines are drawn and speaking up still has a stigma of leading to trouble. So how do you convince a manager to promote the expression of employee’s opinions to help better the company?

There’s so much research out there praising the benefits of listening and giving employees a voice. Managers who create a relationship that’s open and honest with their employees can help build a relationship that leads to trust. With that comes the opportunity for employers to learn more about their company, increase employee retention, give employees a chance to be involved in choices that affect them and increase their productivity. With all of these great benefits why wouldn’t a manager want to give more opportunities for employees to be heard?

Feedback is a double-edged sword. Sometimes giving employees the freedom to speak frankly can turn into a venting session about things that are not important or relevant. Also, some work places have a lot of office politics and employees can start bickering amongst each other and create division in their department. Basically, it could potentially be a recipe for chaos and disaster.

The challenge to create a work environment that produces a trustworthy and dynamic relationship between a manager and their employees can be difficult. The secret is finding the right method to obtain accurate feedback. The culture of a work place will help choose which method best suits a company’s needs.

Here are some appropriate ways to clearly see what’s going on in a company and figure out how to better an organization:

Ask insightful questions

A good way to get honest and valuable feedback is to ask insightful questions. Some examples are any problems employees are seeing, what clients really say about the company and what could be improved. Creating some guidelines when discussing issues about work helps keep out unnecessary discussions.

Feedback coach

A company may have a feedback coach to help encourage employees to express themselves. Employees choose a feedback coach from a list of designated people and then report to this person and share their thoughts and concerns. The feedback coach then informs the company about some of the key points discussed with employees. It’s a great way to find someone non-threatening for employees to speak to about what is occurring within the company and important issues that need to be addressed.

Taking feedback seriously

It’s important to ask and take into consideration what employees are saying and then follow up. Actually implementing employees’ suggestions is one of the strongest ways to build trust amongst employees. Employees watch to see if their feedback has actually been taken into consideration and is being implemented. This process is strongly tied with how valuable employees perceive themselves in relation to the company.

Interacting with employees outside of work

Having a party or a lunch might be a nice way to break down barriers and get people to open up in a friendly environment. Employers can use this opportunity to ask for any insights or ideas employees have to fix or improve anything within the company.

An anonymous survey

Sometimes getting the truth out of your employees means having to use some secrecy. Employees may not trust their employers when it comes to respecting their opinions. This may cause a lot of hesitation in speaking up at work about important matters. An anonymous survey may be the quickest and simplest way to get some critical information about the company.

I feel very lucky to work at a company where employees work together and listen to each other. I know that not all work places have an environment where employees feel confident about opening up and talking about their experiences at work. However, our workforce is, in general, changing into a more transparent environment. Not being able to quickly identify and resolve problems or develop innovations means companies will start to stagnate and perhaps become obsolete. Employers need to realize that to give employees a voice, it all boils down to creating trust and working together to make a change for the better.

How open is your work place to employees’ opinions? Do you voice yours?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Elise is DCR’s HR Manager responsible for everything from compliance to employee relations to admin to just plain old fun. She believe in an “I’m on it” approach when it comes to dealing with being proactive and going above and beyond on the job or when conquering new projects, changes, and challenges.