It’s remarkable what people will say online, especially anonymously. Over the past week I’ve read a very long Reddit thread about a very well publicized startup based in the Gulf and its employment practices. I’ve also been told about a new app which lets prospective employees talk to current staff, and ask them anything, all anonymously.
We live in a region where hierarchical structures are still well entrenched and a top-down culture is the norm. The CEO’s word is sometimes treated as gospel (I know of one firm whose employees aren’t even allowed to have social media accounts, owing to the instructions from up high). However, it’s never been easier for employees to electronically share their views and thoughts on their employer, be they good or bad, on both public and private channels.
As a result, there are some basic truths that we all need to remember. Firstly, employees are the soul of any organization. Employees want to be heard, they want to share their views on what works and what doesn’t work, so that they can improve their workplace. Employees who are engaged more care more. Their productivity increases, they believe in the organization’s mission and vision, and they give it their all.
Employees who believe in their employers are also an organization’s most potent voice externally. They’ll want to talk about what they (and their employer) are doing, and they’ll look to promote their work and the work of their employer. Your people can be your most potent weapon when it comes to building a strong reputation among your customers, potential employees and the public.
Here are some suggestions as to how you can help your employees find their voice, and create a culture that people will want to work in and talk about positively:
- See employee engagement as a sincere attempt to improve the organization (and don’t react defensively when you hear something you don’t like).
- Help everyone see the big picture and the value of their individual contributions. Employees who feel they are part of the organization are more likely to speak up as they have a vested interested in its success.
- Make it safe for employees to engage and speak up. Reward those who have the courage to challenge standard procedures.
- Teach management how to be exceptional listeners, and how to best respond to constructive feedback.
- Teach employees how to make suggestions even when they feel uncomfortable or when others disagree with them.
Use your organizational culture to inspire your employees. They, in turn, will inspire others through what they say about the company, its vision and leadership. Or, you could stick to the other status quo, and see employee morale suffer due to a lack of engagement. I’ll wait to hear from you, or, even better, your employees, on what course you’ve decided to take for your organizational culture and communications.