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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Employees want to be heard. Make sure you’re listening. It’s good business!

There’s mounting evidence that employees really want to make a contribution to their employers beyond just the requirements of their jobs. And that offers a great opportunity for companies — if they know how to take advantage of it.

Our research shows that a surprising number of employees go the extra mile by making suggestions for improvement. In a recent study of more than 640 employees, some 27% of respondents said they contributed more than 20 ideas last year. And 30% made more than 10 but less than 20. Only 6% offered no suggestions at all.

At the same time, our experience has shown little evidence that companies are listening to these suggestions — or, more important, trying to make the most of this enthusiasm.

That’s unfortunate. Because companies are missing out on a significant opportunity to engage their workforce fully. In fact, according to the findings of a recent Right Management global study of 28,000 employees, two top drivers of employee engagement are (1) feeling valued by senior leaders and (2) feeling that employee opinions count. It’s especially important as Gen X and Gen Y employees enter the workforce in greater numbers, because this group wants to feel it’s playing an important, active part in what happens in the organization.

For employers, the implications are clear: Take steps to make sure employees feel heard and have opportunities not only to share their ideas, but to make them happen.

Employees want to be active participants in the performance of the organization. Are you giving them the chance to have a say?

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