Listening is perhaps one of the most underrated skills, but it is one that is highly important for employers to develop. According to research conducted by SHRM, more than 50% of HR professionals regard employee retention to be one of the major challenges over the next decade! It is not only difficult to find good people to hire in the first place, but a task to keep them engaged within the company.
The best way to keep employees engaged is by listening to them. Companies all over the globe have devised ways to give employees the opportunity to speak up and ask questions. For instance, Facebook holds weekly live-streamed Question and Answer sessions, thereby providing an open floor to all employees to ask anything that they may be seeking answers to.
Listening is a two-way street which must exist between an employer and employee. It is not just to speak and give orders, but to actually listen too. But how can you know if you are listening enough? Below are some ways you can show your employees that you do listen.
1. Listen Actively
Passive listening is a waste of time. When an employee is raising an issue or sharing ideas, develop the habit of actively listening. There is no point in conducting Q&A sessions, knowledge sharing sessions and even surveys if the queries go unattended to. Follow up with concerns made by employees. This way, they would know you are actually listening.
2. Negative Feedbacks
As an employer, prepare to hear the good and the bad from your employees. It is only when your employees can point out flaws of things that are not working without fear of retribution, that they can trust your interest in what they have to say. Also note that how your respond to their negative feedback would determine the trajectory of future conversations. The bottom line is whether or not you like what they are saying, it is imperative they know you are listening to them.
There is a saying that action speaks louder than words. For every contribution or feedback made by your employees, let them know that actions are being taken. As an employer, you do not have to act upon every suggestion or idea, but let employees know why you might not be taking action on their idea.
It is important to note that listening is not a one-time activity, it is an on-going activity over time which employers must develop if they are to own and manage a healthy work environment. Listening should serve as a foundation to the work culture of the company and it would boost employee engagement and job satisfaction in the long run. This would in turn have a positive effect on the overall business.
“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley
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