When deciding what policies to put in place to support your people, there is a long list of things you can do – improve your parental leave policies, offer leave purchasing, provide sick leave banking, remove gendered language from policies, provide EAP services, have active employee resource groups – the list goes on.
Deciding what to do and which policies to prioritize can be daunting. There are experts and articles out there declaring ‘this one thing is the #1 priority for you this year’, and others out there saying, no it’s something else that’s the most essential. So who do you believe? Which should be your top priority?
To have the biggest impact you need to provide support and policies that meet the needs of your workforce, so perhaps the most important people you should be listening to are your own employees? After all, how better to find out what their needs are than asking them!
We spoke with four of our Endorsed Employers about the impact employee feedback has had on what they offer. Read on to find out why it’s so important, and how it has shaped their business for the better.
You don’t have to do it alone
Asking your people for what they really want has two benefits. Firstly, you are responding to their needs, not just what you think they might need. And secondly, you get a greater diversity of perspectives, as the ideas that your people come up with will very often go beyond what you have thought of.
Rob Marsh (he/him), Community Innovation Lead at Reward Gateway shares his key advice:
“Listen to your employees and empower them to bring ideas to the table.”
Bronwyn Elverd (she/her), Senior Employee Benefits Specialist at Cummins shares:
“Don’t do it alone. Consult with your employees and human resources team to find out the best ways to support your people. Even better, become a member of an external organization that is committed to the cause you are addressing. Not only will you learn leading practices to support your people, you will also help raise the standards within other organizations and in society.”
Making it easy to speak up
At Reward Gateway, they understand that not everyone wants to speak up in the same way, so they provide multiple channels and opportunities for people to share their feedback and ideas.
Rob Marsh (he/him), Community Innovation Lead, Reward Gateway shares:
“Speak Up is one of our core values and we encourage everyone across our business to use their voice if they think something needs changing or adding. Our internal mechanisms [for helping people speak up] range from conversations with managers and colleagues, participation in our Employee Networks, feedback forms through our online engagement hub, and anonymous surveys issued to all employees. The key is listening to what people are saying, acknowledging them and then taking appropriate action.”
It’s one thing to make it easy for people to share their ideas and provide feedback. Possibly even more important is making it easy for people to report issues, bullying, harassment or other unacceptable behaviors. Maintaining a safe culture, free from discrimination and other negative behaviours is an important foundation for encouraging people to speak up in other areas.
At Vaultex, protecting people from harm is high on their list of priorities, so they have created safe reporting mechanisms. Mahdiya Malik, HR & CSR Manager at Vaultex UK Ltd shared:
“We have launched Vaultex Confidential which is a safe place to anonymously report witnessed or experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination of any kind. This can be done through the phone for free or through an online form completely anonymously, giving people more choice in how, when and where they report any incidents.”
Similarly, at Cummins they enable people to anonymously report issues. Bronwyn Elverd (she/her) Senior Employee Benefits Specialist shares:
“While we encourage our people to speak up when there are issues, we also have an ethics helpline that employees can call if they have an issue, and we aim to complete all investigations as fairly and rapidly as possible. Employees have the option to make their reports anonymously and we have a strictly enforced no retaliation policy.”
The impact of listening
It’s important to keep the conversation open and ongoing. Asking your staff what they need isn’t a ‘one and done’ scenario.
At Spirit Energy, they discovered that listening to the team made their benefits more inclusive and accessible.
Debbie Tanyous, Policy and Benefits Specialist shared;
“It is incredibly important to listen to feedback upon launching any wellbeing offerings with the ability to pivot where required. Following our mental health coaching launch we received feedback from some based in Norway that it would be desirable to have a coach who spoke in the local language. Otherwise, it would be a barrier in this space. Based on that feedback we then complemented the existing offering, with a local offering in Norway, in local language. This ensured that we were providing the best possible, inclusive offering.”
Giving your people a safe space to speak up and offer suggestions means you’ll have access to a wider range of ideas and suggestions, and ensures your benefits and policies really meet the needs of your people. It may seem simple, but as the old saying goes,
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”