Continuous Listening – If you don’t care, your consumers never will!
Organizations that focus on employee experience outperform those that don’t (Morgan, 2017).
The way employees perceive moments with colleagues, offered company services and working conditions, create experiences which determine the business performance of an organization. These moments take place during the employee lifecycle, where all starts with an application and ends with the provision of feedback when leaving the company.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn´t change this fact, but rather strengthened it. It is a prime example for today’s fast-past paced environment, in which organizations are constantly facing new circumstances, that require new ways of dealing with them. Circumstances change permanently and so does the perception of the internal consumers.
Therefore, constantly being on top of the sentiments of the workforce is crucial, in order to gain insights on how to deliver consumer-centered experiences and improve as an organization.
Employees need to be heard not only once a year but rather within a Continuous Listening cycle – a holistic organizational strategy to listen, understand, and act on the concrete moments that make up employees’ lives at work.
Listen in that context, means to provide internal consumers with the opportunity to express their feelings and opinions towards certain topics they care about, on a regular basis. Asking the right people, the right questions at the right time enables organizations to be aware of the perceptions and sentiments of its workforce throughout the year. Feedback pulled from different sources provides frequent data points which reflect consumer experiences in certain aspects of their daily work. The consumers feedback is the foundation to derive meaningful measures in terms of organizational development, right when they are needed. So, start to listen to your consumers regularly.
But collecting consumer experiences is just the first step. The data only tells “why” something happens in an organization. It doesn’t show the impact of the why and the outcome of it remains unclear. Combining different data sources and data types, like x (Experience) data with o (Operational) data, e.g. sentiments towards working from home with board area, not only helps to understand the big picture but also to interpret the scores as well as their meaning and story behind. Once the data has been understood, the next step is to identify burning topics and therefore get an idea of what and what not to focus on, when it comes to deriving concrete actions. Thus, make sure to understand the feedback of your consumers correctly.
All three parts of Continuous Listening are essential as they allow us to turn observations into actionable outcomes. However, there is nothing more important than acting on the results. Consumers need to see that their voices are being heard and that the organization is taking action to improve the employee experience. Simply knowing the issue won’t change anything if there is no defined follow-up and real commitment as well as resources to act on. That’s why you need to act on the results properly.
The continuous listening philosophy needs to be seen, as an iterative process, that is designed to identify key topics to act on and to reconsider, if the data of the previous loop was interpreted correctly or if the follow-ups were defined in the right way. First and foremost, continuous listening is about to put consumer empathy in the center, to provide them the opportunity to express their sentiments regularly, to understand their needs, to take the right actions at the right time and to enhance perceptions and feelings. It’s all about putting the people in the center and see them as “humans” with desires which need to be taken seriously.
It is “a coordinated and cross-functional effort to continuously collect, combine and analyze a variety of employee data sources to maximize the employee experience and ultimately drive and enhance company performance – by applying a customer centric mindset and analytical techniques.” (Coolen, 2018).
Start to listen, understand & act and show your employees that you care. If you don´t, your consumers never will!
Morgan, J. (2017), Why the Millions We Spend on Employee Engagement Buy Us So Little, https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-the-millions-we-spend-on-employee-engagement-buy-us-so-little
Coolen, P. (2018), HR is hitting a second wall, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hr-hitting-second-wall-patrick-coolen/