Employee Voice Survey Essay

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Rethinking employee voice
Employee Voice Survey

Sustainable business success

Employee Voice
Employee voice is increasingly important in the modern workplace. Having a voice is crucial, for the organisation as much as for the employee. Voice is one of the enablers of employee engagement and it can significantly impact business performance. But employee voice remains both little understood as a concept and under-utilised in the world of work.
The IPA and Tomorrow’s Company have therefore joined forces to explore in more depth the nature and importance of voice, working with some of the UK’s leading organisations. We take employee voice to mean the various forms of two-way communication between employers and employees in the workplace. It can be focused on accessing employee views, involving staff in decision making, resolving differences of opinion or gaining access to the knowledge and expertise of the workforce. Voice is about sharing information with employees, encouraging them to express opinions on decisions that affect them and making sure their views are listened to. Employee voice is one of the four key enablers of employee engagement, identified in the
MacLeod Report, ‘Engaging for Success’.
Last year we published our initial report, ‘Rethinking Employee Voice’. Building on this, we will be publishing a final report in early October. This will bring together our findings and make recommendations.
This publication gives an early summary of findings from one part of the Voice research, a survey of employers. Our survey of employers aimed to investigate:

What employers understand employee voice to mean

The structures and cultures organisations have in place to harness employee voice

The factors that enable and inhibit employee voice

The benefits that are associated with employee voice

Our final report will integrate the results from this survey with our broader work on
Voice, giving a holistic picture of the impact of employee voice in the UK today.


Key Findings

The vast majority of respondents believe voice has a positive impact on engagement and performance.

Respondents defined ‘employee voice’ not just as allowing staff to express of their opinions, but also actively listening and involving them in decisionmaking.

‘Direct’ channels of voice between employees and line managers/senior leaders are both more common and seen as more important than ‘indirect’ or ‘representative’ channels.

Employers – particularly larger organisations – remain very wary about employees using social media to express opinions about them.

Most respondents measure voice and the wider area of engagement through a staff survey. Some just use informal conversations with managers. •

One in two respondents correlate voice measures with other indicators. This was normally engagement overall or organisational health, but some correlated voice with performance.

Employee voice focuses on both ‘personnel’ and ‘business improvement’ issues. It was used to negotiate the settlement between employer and employee and to allow employees to contribute ideas to improving their business. •

Respondents said that the main barriers to accessing voice arise from staff themselves. These include overcoming cynicism and getting their buy-in.

Advice on accessing voice included getting manager buy-in; feeding back and acting on issues raised; using a variety of channels; and being open and honest.


Methodology and Respondents
The e-survey survey was open between 30/07/12 and 20/08/12. 205 people responded to the survey. The survey data can be accessed and analysed here using an interactive data-visualisation tool produced by Concentra.
In terms of the size of the organisations represented belonged to, there was a relatively even spread.
Number of employees

Response (%)

Response (count)

0 – 250



251 – 1,000



1,001 – 5,000



5,001 – 10,000



10,001 – 50,000