How to Start Listening to Your Employees - bettHR

We’ve all come across the situation before – your favorite store just changed the way they do something, missing the most obvious perk, leaving you questioning why they would make that change. My response is usually, “I don’t know, they didn’t ask me….” And of course I’d provide the “obvious” solution or missing piece, thinking it would have been so much easier if they would have asked a loyal customer like me.

And I’ve heard it across every single HR department and employee population – more times than I care to count.

Why did they change the performance management process? Did they know that this change adds an extra three hours to my small group? Isn’t there any easier way to do this? They just took a fairly reasonable process and “upgraded” it into something unmanageable.

Sound familiar?

Then we’re left to scramble to defend the change, provide a talk track to leaders about how to position it, create a program rollout to teach people about it, and so on.

We’ve alienated our best resources – our people and their insight.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to open the floodgates for feedback and start implementing every piece of advice you receive. That’s not realistic.

However, you already have a significant amount of information, metrics and analytics (even if you don’t think so!), at your fingertips. You just have to look at what’s in front of you a little bit differently.

Here are two examples:

Example 1: Email Open Rates

When you look at your email data (first, amazing – so glad you have it in place!), you’re finding that your open rates from messages from a specific leader, is hovering around 40%. Well below the norm for your organization. What can this tell you? It’s not the fallback answers: people’s inboxes are overwhelming; no one has time; they can’t get to their emails; the topic is boring; and so on. Those may be true on some level, but that’s not the feedback your audience is giving you.

What if I told you that those low open rates are because of something else? Something you can actively work towards changing instead of spinning your wheels around email? It does.

Those open rates likely correlate with the employee engagement results you have for this leader (likely lower than others). Your employees are telling you that they do not trust the leader, that his email is not worth their time, or perhaps they simply don’t like him.

It’s up to you to dig deeper into the exact reason. But you cannot overlook trends that your employees are showing you, even implicitly. If they open other leaders’ emails at a higher rate, there’s something about this guy that is impacting your results.

And this is something you can change.

Example 2: HR Questions

HR is getting a lot of questions on the HR phone line or email box, about the same things over and over again. Likely, they’re things that are posted clearly on your intranet – with clear directions of where to go and what to do. But people keep calling!

Our knee jerk reaction is to send an email out reminding people how to complete the action. Tell leaders to tell their employees to “self-service” before calling. Add a news item to our daily email newsletter. You get the drift here.

But what are employees really telling you by their actions?

They aren’t “dumb” or lazy. Or computer-illiterate.

They’re telling you that activity or action is so critical and important to them, that they are concerned they will not complete it correctly. They need reassurance that they’re on the right path; that the updates they make are accurate; that they won’t be doing something “wrong.”

You know that intrinsically, if you’re like me, you’ve felt exactly the same way with a certain HR action in the past and probably called too.

So instead of reacting and alienating your employees even more, or worse, making them fear coming across as “dumb,” how can you change the user experience to reassure them they are on the right path?

Does your intranet have the critical to the employee items, in the right place? Have you split up the activity into small enough pieces to add reassurance and diminish overwhelm? Do they get encouragement along the way? And so on.

These are just two everyday examples of ways our employees are using their voice subtly. The resulting metrics are your hard data, but you still have to understand the meaning behind the data to make the right tweaks for your employee population.

Do you have a stubborn issue like the two examples above that you’re unsure how to tackle? We’d love to hear from you and help you troubleshoot – send us a line here.