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5 ways giving employees a stronger voice can make your company sing

Do many employees feel management is deaf when it comes to hearing their concerns and considering their ideas?

Apparently, yes.

“Employee voice” in the workforce has become a catchphrase in human resource departments as companies see the benefits of opening their ears to their employees. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology last year listed “capturing the employee voice” as the No. 7 workplace trend.

Research ties in employee voice, among several factors, with employee engagement. A Gallup poll revealed that more than half of U.S. employees were “not engaged.” As a leadership expert I think giving employees a voice leads to more engagement on multiple levels — and more successful companies.

When we provide employees with access to the corporate microphone, the music can be instantaneous and breathtaking. Companies are constantly striving to please their customers, but the same vital attention needs to be given to their strongest asset, the employees.

When employees are given a voice, it makes all the difference, building trust, bringing a higher level of performance and leading to success for all.

Here are five ways that giving employees a voice benefits a business:

Discovers hidden talent. People who were buried deep in the organizational chart bring solutions with their fresh perspective and broadened roles. “Once viewed as disengaged, they are seen in a new light, now fully utilized and helping the company to prosper,” Martino says. “By inviting more ideas, you’ve opened up a new world for your organization.”

Increases camaraderie, enhances culture. The mood shoots up when everyone suddenly feels more valued by being heard. ”You will be pleasantly surprised by the smiling faces and camaraderie that return to your employee base,” Martino says. “Employees love working in an environment where everyone is really listened to and their ideas matter.”

Energizes, drives productivity. A happier, more appreciated work culture leads to a more energized workforce. “When employees start feeling heard — seeing ideas implemented, and knowing they have real input — it encourages buy-in and even more effort, so productivity goes up,” Martino says.

Diagnoses, clarifies. “Getting to the source of problems means getting to the truth, and without repercussions in telling it,” Martino says. “This clears obstacles. And by bouncing ideas off others, hearing their concerns and perspectives, you stay true to company goals and improve the company’s way of getting there.”

Identifies future leaders. Empowering everyone by giving them a voice inspires confidence, allowing leaders to emerge. Some may not initially see themselves that way, but they will be self-evident by the clarity of their reasoning and the courage of their convictions,” Martino says. “Good management unlocks potential, empowers it and here is another example of that.”

“The results of this dramatically improved communication between employer and employee are immediate and lasting,” Martino says. “The relationship is enhanced in multiple, measurable ways.”

Keith Martino is head of CMI, a global consultancy founded in 1999 that customizes leadership and sales development initiatives. Martino is the author of “Expect Leadership,” a series of four leadership books — “The Executive Edition, in Business, in Engineering, and in Technology.” He has also published three sales handbooks, “Get Results, Results Now” and “Selling to Americans.” He has been the keynote speaker at business development conferences for Xerox, Bass Pro Shops, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, the American Banking Association, Baker-Hughes, Shell Oil, RadioShack and Schlumberger.

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