The Power of Employee Voice in Times of Adversity

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When adversity strikes, HR comes to the fore. Whether it’s localised adversity, industry-wide adversity, or global adversity—that’s when your people need support, comfort and reassurance.

The best way to understand how you can provide that is by encouraging them to speak up and listening to what they say. And as we start to move from a global pandemic into a possible global recession, now’s the time to get started…

Why you should manage adversity with employee voice

Some people might not see the value in prioritising employee voice when a crisis hits. They might think you should take action straight away; to just go with what you think is best and trust in your expertise. But those people are overlooking some very important points:

  1. When an organisation is caught off balance, a misstep can be fatal. It’s much better to take an extra breath and absorb any information you can get your hands on to help decide your next move.
  2. Asking for opinions and feedback is an action in itself. It sends a clear message to your people that you’re doing what you can to make sure they’re okay. That makes them feel safe and valued—which, during adversity, is like a lifeboat when it comes to trust, engagement and loyalty.
  3. Necessity is the mother of invention. And the collective brain power and creative capacity of an entire workforce is huge—especially when the organisation’s figurative back is against the wall. Crowdsourcing ideas will either reveal something you hadn’t thought of before, or add strength to your conviction in your own ideas.
  4. When adversity is thrust upon us, that last thing we want is yet more enforced and unexpected change. People like to be involved or at least consulted in the approach to big challenges in their own lives.
  5. In these circumstances, we naturally band together to get through difficulties. So by instigating that and involving everyone in the effort, you’ll also be building a collaborative, collective and supportive culture. And that breeds a contagious energy that powers employees to go the extra mile.
  6. Employees are the lifeblood of every organisation. And being able to speak up is vital for employees. So by neglecting employee voice, you also neglect your people and your organisation.

For all of those reasons, making employee voice a priority during times of adversity is the best way to protect both employee engagement and organisational performance, to keep people motivated, committed and performing, and to ultimately get through the situation.

What happens if you don’t manage adversity with employee voice?

And if you’re still not convinced, then consider the risks of not prioritising employee voice. They’re as damaging as the benefits are uplifting:

  1. Without the reassurance and individual support that comes from speaking up, employees’ wellbeing will probably suffer. And not only are you obliged to care for your people, but it will also come back to you as a rise in sickness absence and therefore a drop in productivity.
  2. People will jump ship. Survival mode will kick in when times are hard, and if employees don’t feel like they’re valued and don’t trust in the leadership, they’ll do what they think is best to protect their livelihood.
  3. As morale, motivation and engagement fall, so will performance and service standards. If people don’t feel involved and encouraged to have their say (even if they don’t take up the opportunity), they’ll feel powerless—which will affect everything they do.
  4. You’ll probably get some things wrong. Without listening to the ideas, opinions and knowledge of your people, you can’t be as in-tune with them and your decisions won’t be as well-informed.

So how do you manage adversity with employee voice?

It’s all about communicating with your employees and being proactive during unpredictable times, pinpointing hotspots and getting ahead of problems or mitigating them. You can do that by: 

  • Running frequent surveys that are specific to the situation you’re facing so your people know that you’re on it and that they matter, and so you can hoover up all that knowledge.
  • Opening up always-on listening channels so your people can raise any ideas, concerns, questions or opinions at any time—rather than letting them slip through the net.
  • Closing the feedback loop by responding to what your people say. Employees need to know you’re listening and you need to be able to answer those questions, address those concerns and dig deeper into those great ideas.

Find out how the flexibility, speed and features of Hive are ideally suited to help you navigate through adversity. 👇

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Navigating Through Adversity with Hive

How Hive's employee voice platform and People Science partnership can support you in times of uncertainty

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