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How employee voice can shape the workplace learning process

SW
Sophia Wichtowska
Nov 12, 2019

Whether you work for a large organization or a small team, change is inevitable, and there is little that remains constant as a business grows and develops. In the digital age, organizations have to be agile and adaptive to keep up with the breakneck pace of technological development. 

Change is predictable but can be difficult for human beings to cope with psychologically. Some people are better able to handle the ups and downs, but in the modern workplace, this is a challenge regardless of personality type.

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One way to help employees through the process of either a significant or minor change is to give them a voice. 

In this article, we will share our thoughts on the importance of employee voice in the learning process and how to harness employees’ opinions to their full potential. 

Why giving employees a voice is essential for learning

Griffith University explains that employee voice is “the ways and means through which employees attempt to have a say. [They can] potentially influence organizational affairs about issues that affect their work and the interests of managers and owners”.

In a workplace learning context, organizational leaders can use employee voice to shape the learning culture and drive learning and development strategy. If employees feel they have a say in the learning process, they are far more likely to be engaged and feel a sense of ownership.

Arguably, learners need to have a say throughout the learning process to make it their own, and for content to be accurately personalized to their needs

How to gather employee feedback and make it useful

1. Create an environment conducive to honest feedback

For employee voice to be a useful tool in learning and development strategy, staff members need to feel comfortable giving honest feedback. They also need to be confident that those in leadership will take their views on board.

Both leaders and employees should be able to discuss different topics in a spirit of collaboration, which leads to goal setting and strategic planning. 

2. Make it clear what kind of feedback your team would like

It is also crucial for organizational leaders to set the parameters for the kind of feedback they would like to receive. To do this, they need to think about the questions they need to ask employees and the way they would like them to respond. Are short written answers useful? Perhaps a survey might be more efficient. 

Regardless of the methods used, “feedback should be specific, objective, consistent, and timely.” The environment in which employees communicate feedback must also be supportive and should encourage an open dialog between employees and leadership teams. 

3. Use online course feedback systems and your LMS

Feedback features built into online courses, and your LMS, can also provide insight into how participants are finding the learning process. Every learning platform comes with metrics those responsible for learning and development can review and utilize to shape strategy moving forward. 

Data analysis could be as simple as reviewing how many staff members started and completed a particular online course. Analytics will show both how engaged the staff was initially, and whether or not they found the content itself useful or engaging. 

4. Use performance review meetings 

The performance management process is a great way to glean feedback from employees on the learning and development strategy in your organization. 

Asking employees for their opinions during this time can also make performance reviews feel less like an opportunity for scrutiny, and more like a two-way process. 

5. Surveys 

Surveys are a quick and straightforward way to gather employees’ opinions. They also make it easy to set the parameters for responses, as described above. 

Questions organization leaders might consider including are:

  • What opportunities for learning would you like to see?
  • How will this help you in your role?
  • How will it help you to progress personally?
  • Is there any other help you need with your role that is not currently supported by our learning and development offering? 

6. Assess feedback and see how it aligns with learning and development strategy

After your leadership team has gathered feedback from staff members, the next step is to assess how it aligns with the current learning and development strategy. Are there common threads to the responses? Do the reactions align with the thoughts of the learning and development team, or have they highlighted new issues the team needs to address? Review responses with these strategic questions in mind.  

7. Act upon feedback, and make it explicit

When asking employees for feedback, it is crucial to explain how that feedback will be used and applied to learning and development strategy. Staff members must feel like those in leadership will both listen to their opinions, and that they will implement their suggestions.

Think about how to make this process explicit. If your leadership team has genuinely listened to the responses and made efforts to implement them, make this clear. Show how their ideas have influenced strategy. 

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