Increasing employee participation is a big challenge faced many managers and human resource professionals. After all, feedback and suggestions are essential aspects of making useful changes that benefit all participants. However, sometimes it can seem as though encouraging employees to get involved beyond doing their job is like pulling teeth.
Oftentimes it isn’t that employees are unwilling to offer suggestions, just that they don’t feel as though there is a comfortable avenue for it. It is critical for managers and HR personnel to establish clear communication channels. Furthermore, be sure to ask questions regarding feelings about workflows, and listen to the responses; make sure employees feel rewarded for their buy-in and participation or else they won’t continue.
The benefits of employee participation are clear, and well-worth the effort. They include: building community, better communication, less stress, greater productivity, and higher product quality.
1. Building a Stronger Community
When everyone participates, the company is benefitted by the development of an employee community. Employees that feel their opinion is valued and see changes designed to benefit both them and the customer are more likely to feel invested in the success of the company. These employees want to share their opinions on how to improve because the quality of their work environment and the product matter to them.
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2. Improving Communication
Another big benefit of employee participation is the breaking down of traditional communication barriers. Employees that have a solid avenue for speaking their thoughts and fears regarding the company direction are more likely to point out trouble points in a workflow or innovative new ways of doing things.
Healthcare administrators have noted that an aversion to changes in policy, workflow, etc tend to be the biggest contributor to diminishing employee enthusiasm. Improving both participation and employee-employer communication are key strategies to help explain and build acceptance of new changes. Professionals in this field found it was absolutely critical to gather employee input and to evaluate goals based upon the results.
3. Reducing Stress
Participation can also serve to reduce stress in both employees and employers. Stress can build up over uncertainties regarding company changes, because of new workflows, or because employee ideas are not taken into consideration. If allowed to build up over time for too long, stress can have a number of significant impacts on the body such as elevated blood pressure, headaches, or lack of motivation. All of which can cause employees to miss more work and to not be as productive while they are working.
4. Boosting Productivity
Speaking of productivity, employee participation in company direction and decision making can also help to make them more productive in the long run. This occurs for a couple of reasons including less stress, a happier work environment, feeling valued, and a commitment to see positive changes to their fruition. In addition, some of the changes or workflows suggested by employees might actually improve processing time or make certain aspects of the job much faster.
5. Increasing Product Quality
Finally, employee engagement can also play itself out in a way that makes the final product produced by your company much better. For instance, if employees are better informed on the direction of the company they will be able to better communicate these ideas to customers. Or, if employee suggestions are taken into consideration, new workflows will be implemented faster to increase product output.
Managers and human resource representatives that are already working towards building greater employee engagement are already seeing major improvements in their workplaces. Remember, it is a challenge to foster avenues where employees feel comfortable and encouraged to participate in company decision making. It is essential to remember to ask questions, listen to the responses, and try to reward buy-in. Then reap the many benefits of employee participation!