Five benefits of taking the time to listen to staff

The saying “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak” dates to Roman times and the famous Stoic Epictetus.

Fast-forward to modern times and if only the Post Office had listened more to its sub-postmasters before it decided to prosecute them.
How to be a good listener.

It is easy to take listening for granted, but how well do you take on board the views of your team? Here are a few tips on listening to get you started in a work context.

Think about the channels you offer for employee communication. Is your door always open? Do you hold regular 121 appraisals or check-ins where two-way feedback is encouraged? Do you survey your staff from time to time?

Show you are a good listener when in conversation. Give them opportunity to speak; display good body language (for instance, eye contact); take notes if you need to.

Follow up with action and communication. Nothing will say bad listener more than if you hear what they say and then take no discernible action. Even if you don’t agree with them, take the time to explain this and thank them for raising the point with you

Being a good listener is not some empty gesture; there will be tangible benefits to you as an employer.

1. Better company ideas
With each of your team having their own daily experience of life in your company, they are bound to notice things that could be done better, and have the occasional flash of inspiration. By fostering a culture of listening you make it easier for these ideas to find their way to you so you can implement them. Maybe it will help you cut costs or start offering a new service that sparks growth.

2. Avoid disaster
Conversely, your employees may be the “canary in the coalmine”, providing the key information that prevents a disaster (as could have been the case at the Post Office). Make sure your team always know they can come to you when there is a problem, so you can put it right as soon as possible.

3. Improve morale
Listening to your employees can help improve morale in your business in a number of ways. One study from Penn State University in America revealed that managers who actively listen to employees help to alleviate feelings of job insecurity. It is also a way of signalling that you value their presence and their input, which in turn will contribute towards a happy and productive workplace. Make sure that everyone has equal opportunity to be heard.

4. Boost retention
Building on the value of good morale, your listening skills can also help boost retention. Making employees feel valued is an important part of having them stick around. In fact, one survey found that 41% of people had left a job due to feeling they were not listened to. More than that, involving employees in decision-making through listening to them is also a great way of encouraging their development and creating a pathway to promotion opportunities.

5. Improve your own skills
Actively listening to your employees is a skill in itself, and through practice you will get better at it. This will help you as a business leader and in other walks of life by becoming a more collaborative and rounded person.

Further help
Access a variety of training solutions to help you or your line managers to upskill, from in-person workshops to eLearning courses with the HR Dept. 

Five benefits of taking the time to listen to staff

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