Are we listening closely enough to our employees?

The PR Academy’s 2021 “Who’s Listening” survey has been published and highlights a few interesting, if not altogether surprising, nuggets of information.

By: James Blair on

You can find the report here.

Listening from senior leadership is more strongly associated with positive outcomes than that from line manager or supervisor level

This shows the importance of a robust and meaningful connection between those at the top of your organisation and the rest of the workforce. Most employees understand the tiered structure of organisations and why their reporting hierarchy is structured the way it is, but what this shows is that people want to feel that their views and feelings are being heard by those at the top of the tree.

Listening is vital when it comes to developing new working practices

This one is pretty obvious and to be expected. Your people know how well things are working. And what isn’t. Many of them have useful ideas and suggestions to share. Those at the coalface may foresee potential problems with new practices that more senior leaders haven’t thought of. Also, it’s worth considering that new practices will be greeted, accepted and embedded so much more easily and effectively if your people feel they have been consulted and had the chance to feed-in before roll-out.

Only 42% of respondents felt that their organisation responds promptly to feedback

As above, giving your people the chance to feedback, ask questions and share thoughts and feelings is fundamentally important if you want an engaged and empowered workforce, but it must be accompanied by actively listening to what is being said, and responding. This doesn’t have to be as painful as it first sounds. Answering questions live during (virtual) meetings or conferences and summarising pertinent points and recurring themes using shared Q&As or short talking heads videos will ensure that those who couldn’t attend are still getting the comms they need. This whole process also shows transparency, builds trust and demonstrates that all-important listening.

There is a more opportunity for digital listening

This isn’t as menacing as it sounds! Employees are often more comfortable speaking up on internal digital platforms than in face-to-face scenarios. As long as leaders are visible and actively participating, the sinister, clandestine feeling of “the bosses just listening in” is eased somewhat, and there could be a wealth of useful ideas, suggestions and feedback to hear and take forward. Online forums and workgroups of this nature are live, current and ongoing. They can also boost that crucial sense of fellowship, teamworking and collaboration across otherwise dispersed teams.

Similarly a robust recognition and appreciation platform, that can be accessed by all, regardless of role, hours and location, will not only bring a sense of belonging and camaraderie to those dispersed teams and boost the morale of those recognising and being recognised, but also give leaders an insight into what currently matters to people across the organisation.

As we continue along the road to a hybrid model of working, digital platforms and comms of this nature will only play an increasingly significant role in our workplaces and in our leaders’ opportunities for hearing the noise from the shopfloor.