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  • Danny

HR 3.0: Human Centric pt2 - How to approach Employee Listening

Updated: Nov 11, 2023


(This blog post is just a small excerpt from our informative newsletter. Sign up here to receive regular newsletters packed with valuable insights, and expert tips)


I have seen time and time again the urge to rush into design and launch an internal listening strategy without making sure it is built on a solid foundation. It's crucial to address before you build any form of employee listening, you have what I call the big three in place

The digital age has brought with it a plethora of data-driven strategies. While "data-driven" and "data-informed" are buzzwords we often encounter, it's essential to understand the real challenges behind them. Two primary hurdles I've observed are

  • Leveraging listening data to enhance employee - Services, Products, Interactions and Experiences

  • Addressing the reluctance among employees to share additional data in the first place

To navigate these challenges, we must adhere to three foundational principles:

trust, clarity, balance


Trust...

is the cornerstone of any successful data collection initiative. Just as consumers evaluate a website's credibility before making a purchase, employees need to trust that their shared information will be handled with care. To foster this trust:

Be Open and Allow Anonymity: Transparency is the bedrock of trust. Leaders must be transparent about data usage intentions and how anonymous it really is. A culture of openness is nurtured when employees feel safe, can be honest, and don't fear any form of backlash.

Google recently announced they are bringing back their weekly Googlegeist, which is a prime example of anonymity in action. Employees are encouraged to provide candid feedback on a weekly basis by answering two questions each week. Google understands that trust is a two-way street and as long as it isn't broken they will get real-time data that they can turn into actionable insight

I once filled out an internal anonymous survey, where I was honest and somewhat vulnerable. I shared positive areas of opportunity where the business could elevate its people experience. Fast forward a week later and a high-level leader approached me and thanked me for the suggestions.

In this instance it was a great conversation however the dark side to that conversation is they clearly exposed that the survey wasn't anonymous. Knowing this did it change how future questions were answered... you bet it did, all answers were positive and if there was anything constructive there wasn't a chance in hell I was putting it down in the surveys. We will share in future emails why this alone is one of the key reasons we have to take a mixed-methods approach to employee listening

Clarity...

in the purpose and how we communicate is paramount. If we do not provide clarity from the outside it leaves room on both sides of the fence for ambiguity.

Ambiguity over time drives speculation and scepticism which is helpful for nobody.

Address the core question: "What's in it for me?" If am going to give you access to my thoughts, and feelings, as well as what I love and dislike then I need to know what I get out of it. Are you using the data to help tailor my career path, are you finding out if I am a flight risk and so on? Be clear in why you are asking but also clear in the benefit it has to them

Use Clear Language: There is an old saying "BS baffles brains" and that is 100% not what we are trying to do, we want to be clear in the words and tone we use and avoid all jargon. Always use simple human language, so remove words like coalescence and replace them with words like mix

Having worked in a call centre at the start of my career, there's nothing worse than telling a customer, or employee in this case, that they need to read the small print to make sense of things... don't be that person, please. If you're ever in doubt about the language used run it past someone like your nan or someone outside of your role. keep refining it until they understand it. Only then share it

Balance

Like Goldilocks on the hunt for the perfect bed, you're on the hunt for the right amount of data where it doesn’t feel intrusive or just straight-up weird to ask for (hello Threads & Tiktok)

If there's any uncertainty about the volume of data being requested, it's probably excessive. Microsoft's productivity tool, MyAnalytics, provides employees with insights into their work patterns. However, Microsoft is super clear in explaining they don't collect excessive data that might feel invasive, this strikes a balance by focusing on metrics that genuinely help employees without crossing privacy boundaries.

Remember: if there is any doubt that you are asking for too much, then there is no doubt you are.


The Rub

As leaders in people operations and culture, it's our responsibility to ensure that our approach to employee listening is as human-centric as possible. By adhering to the principles of trust, clarity, and balance, will we create an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and empowered. In the next newsletter, we will look at the Three Bs of setting up a good listening approach


(This blog post is just a small excerpt from our informative newsletter. Sign up here to receive regular newsletters packed with valuable insights, and expert tips)

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