Why it Matters
Workforce engagement and voice is an important aspect of good employment. Employee voice is seen to have a central role in improving productivity, in tackling insecurity and in promoting the psychological well-being and job satisfaction of employees.
Voice has a central role in various employment charters. The Fair Work Convention in Scotland lists ‘effective voice’ as the first of five dimensions of fair work, and employee voice is also a key theme in the good employment criteria set out in charters in Wales and London.
Acas (2015) define employee voice as “providing information to people at work, enabling them to stay informed, have their say and be involved in the decision-making process. It is also about employers benefitting from the technical and tacit knowledge of their employees to improve productivity and contribute to innovation”.
Acas go on to differentiate between direct and indirect forms of employee voice, with direct means including one-to-one and team meetings, and indirect means including consultations with or full collective bargaining with recognised trade unions.
Key points raised through the development of this characteristic include:
• Approaches to this characteristic vary widely between small, medium and large organisations.
• Employers should provide a safe, effective and informed space for employee voice.
• Trust is vital and the employers needs to demonstrate that they react to employee feedback.
Supporters of the Charter are improving workplace engagement and voice with the following commitment:
"So that our staff can fully contribute to the direction and success of our organisation and shape their roles, with recognised trade unions facilitating the expression of the employees’ collective voice where possible, building effective employee engagement activity and with support from relevant professional bodies."
Charter members will be expected to provide evidence of a confident, empowered workforce creating an effective relationship between individuals, workforce and management where opinions can be safely heard and shared through:
- Involvement of employees in decision-making and managing change through effective communication and consultation.
- Placing as much emphasis on listening as talking.
- Employers actively seeking views, taking account of what they hear from employees, and communicating regularly about employees’ contribution to driving the organisation forward.
- Ensuring that managers at all levels are committed to employees having their say.
- Genuinely considering employees’ views before decisions are taken.
- Communicating and consulting with employees systematically and regularly.
- Monitoring of employee engagement rates (by protected characteristic) and, where necessary, the development of actions plans to ensure all voices are heard across the diversity of the workforce.