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Your Employees Want to Share Their Wisdom: Are You Listening?

Posted by Allison O'Brien on Feb 13, 2020 12:39:48 PM
Allison O'Brien

Do your employees voice their ideas? Do you listen when they do?

According to recent findings in Sideways6’s State of Employee Ideas Report, 82% of employees have ideas about how their companies can improve their business. However, despite a surplus of ideas, almost 20% are never heard because employees are afraid to speak up and share them. When they do voice their ideas, 34% think that their company doesn’t listen.

Given these staggering statistics, is it a surprise that only 15% of today’s workforce are actively engaged?

If employees aren’t sharing their experience and their ideas, how are decisions being made by upper management? Are the decisions being made connected to the real problems that need to be solved?

A recent story about Delta Airlines shines some light on how the most successful companies engage their employees, listen to their ideas, and make better business decisions.

Delta recently cut costs, increased productivity  and improved customer experience based on input and ideas from the people doing the work every day in the field. The company made a game changing business decision considering employee feedback and it paid off. Customer service agents at the gates helping passengers saw a solution to one of the biggest problems facing the airline industry – how to prevent delays and ensure on time arrivals and departures. Gate agents were able to see how to get planes out faster with quicker turn-arounds, in a way that executives in offices couldn’t experience from their vantage point. The answer was simple; push the planes out at a 45 degree angle instead of a 90 degree angle, thereby saving one to two minutes every time a jet leaves the gate. It seems insignificant until you factor in Delta’s 1000 flights per day in Atlanta alone.

Delta has a culture of trust, where employees feel valued enough to voice their ideas, which in turn positively impacts the bottom line. Next month the company will pay out a record total of $1.6 billion in bonuses. That’s enough to give every worker 2 months' extra pay. When called a “rockstar” for the profit-sharing model with Delta employees, Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, said, “Delta would be nothing without our 90,000 people. They deserve all the credit."

As leaders, what prevents us from asking for feedback and ideas from the people with the most hands-on experience about what needs to change? Conversely, when those that have the most practical experience offer up their ideas, why don’t we listen?

Kudos to Delta! They seem to break the mold. Not only do they ask for input, they listen. As a result, their employees feel heard and give back.

When making critical business decisions, does your company have a listening culture?

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Topics: Listening for Business, Listening, Leadership, Performance