Employee voice is a two-way process which provides communication between employer and employee to make improvements in the workplace. Employee voice mainly concerns providing employees with the opportunity to be involved in workplace decisions. This voice can be direct (employer and employee) or indirect (employer and staff representative). Although there has been a general decline in union presence in the workplace, especially in the private sector, there has been an increase in individuals feeling that they themselves are their best representation to address work-related matters.
As employees carry out your business functions, actively encouraging staff to put forward their perspective on changes can be hugely beneficial to your business. This is because it will provide insightful information which can drive processes to be more effective and efficient, resulting in higher business competition levels. In addition, employee voice is often referred to in pieces of research concerning performance, as it’s often seen that ‘high involvement’ can enhance engagement, which may improve employee’s performance. Although the way in which a business utilises employee voice will ultimately affect the results which employee voice can bring. For instance, some companies will encourage employee voice to only put their ideas forward to management. Although other businesses will encourage for opinions to be raised but for managers to then work through these points with individuals – resulting in employees having ‘higher involvement’.
As the majority of workplaces are less unionised, having employee voice can be beneficial, for both parties, as this allows employees to address matters in the way they feel suitable and ensures employers are aware of workplace matter. Therefore in order to understand employee’s interests, in any event, it’s important for employees to understand they have a voice which can be spoken when necessary. However it’s important to understand staffs opinion on their representation position prior to promoting employee voice. This is because how staff feel about voicing their interests can directly impact business operations. For example, if employees don’t feel comfortable addressing issues with their employer this usually results in staff avoiding to do so and may result in staff leaving. Therefore to overcome representation issues employers should promote to staff that they can decide their representation method themselves, although you will work together to ensure the choice of representation works well for both sides.
Effective communication allows aims and objectives to be achieved smoothly and making clear to staff that they have a voice can increase commitment and improve decision-making. Also, staff having a voice can enhance engagement and avoid unnecessary disputes and conflict. Therefore not allowing or not promoting employee voice won’t allow you to reap these benefits.