Listening Intelligence Blog

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Creating a Listening Culture: Part One

Posted by Allison O'Brien on Nov 21, 2019 8:00:00 AM
Allison O'Brien

After reading Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report, I would say we have a crisis in the American workforce. There are 100 million full-time employees in the United States and only one-third of them report feeling engaged at work. The other two-thirds are either actively disengaged (16%), or actively looking for a new job and watching for openings (51%). What is most striking is that only 13% of U.S. workers strongly agree that their organization's leadership communicates effectively.

These statistics are no different from Gallup’s same report released in 2013. If we knew these statistics, what prevented us from using those shocking findings to make a dramatic shift to improve the culture of communication in the American workplace? There is evidence of a connection between the perception of ineffective communication from leadership and a disengaged workforce. It’s time for leadership to make a change. 

High employee engagement is a direct result of a strong company culture. Culture forms organically over time and is a reflection of a company’s values, not just professed values, but embodied and communicated by leadership on a daily basis. Surprisingly, 89% of companies do have written core values statements. Sadly, only 53% of employees know what they are. 

Y Scouts published the top 10 core values from 10 companies listed on the Great Place To Work Institute‘s “Best Medium-Sized Workplaces” list and not a single one includes listening as a core value. Only one cites the importance of “Direct, open, and honest communication” in their values statement.

At ECHO we say, “Listening is 50% of the communication equation,” meaning that it’s the combination of speaking and listening that creates communication, and listening is the half that is often left out of the equation. 

If we want to increase employee engagement, we have to commit to improving communication throughout all levels of the organization, and especially the 50% that is often overlooked – listening. 

Organizations who adopt a company-wide commitment to listening as a pillar of company values develop a culture that fosters inclusion, drives innovation, values cognitive diversity, and to quote Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, “Changes a culture from ‘paycheck’ to ‘purpose.’”

Does your company have a culture of listening? If not, it’s time to build one.

Part II of "Creating a Listening Culture" explores how companies can create a company-wide commitment to Listening Intelligence. Stay tuned.

Topics: Listening for Business, Listening, Leadership, Communication, Productivity, Performance