Worker voice

Guidance for employers on how to actively encourage the voice of workers.

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Engaging your workers

Definition

The “Worker Voice” describes how employees can raise their views and concerns with their employer and help to shape and influence satisfaction, productivity and efficiency within their workplace. It is a varied topic and your organisation may well already have approaches in place for its employees to speak up and be included in decisions. It is important for equality and workplace cohesion that the “voice” of temporary employees is also considered.

There are a number of advantages that can be realised through exercising an effective worker voice:

  • Innovation

  • Productivity

  • Organisational improvement

  • Increased worker job satisfaction

  • Greater worker influence (and contribution to decision-making)

  • Better opportunities for employee development

Methodology

There are a number of ways in which “Worker Voice” can be represented in your organisation. Your organisation could implement some of the steps listed below into its culture. It may additionally recognise the benefits of engaging proactively with relevant Trade Unions – further information for which can be found in our section on Proactive Trade Union engagement below.
 

  • Create an organisational culture in which employees feel safe to speak up and empowered to suggest newer or more efficient processes

  • Implement a selection of communication methods to encourage employee voice, consult employees on decisions and develop genuine two-way dialogue between decision-makers and workers

  • Conduct employee surveys to collate opinions and evaluate workplace issues

  • Provide training for line managers to understand the value of employee voice and the behaviours that they need to engage in to manage positive relationships at work, such as conflict management and having difficult conversations

  • Develop a Whistleblowing policy (or similar) that is supported at the top of the organisation and effectively communicated to the workforce. This policy should:

    • make clear to all staff what they should do if they come across malpractice in the organisation

    • encourage individuals to report this malpractice to an appropriate person

    • include reassurance that disclosures will be dealt with in confidence

  • Encourage consultation and partnerships with recognised Trade Unions, as well as staff representatives through regular forums

  • Improve employees’ engagement in decision-making by designing mechanisms and systems that enable employee involvement at all levels

Proactive Trade Union Engagement

Trade unions are the voice of Britain at work. Unions help workers get together, stop people being treated unfairly and get a better deal from their employers. They have a vital role to play in ensuring that workers are better informed and empowered in respect of their employment rights. Trade unions assist and offer invaluable advice, guidance and support to both workers and their employers.

 

Trade unions also represent members for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of the workforce on issues such as pay and terms and conditions.

 

They bring the perspective of the ordinary worker and help foster good industrial relations by enabling workers to raise problems and seek to resolve them. Trade unions operate across a range of different areas across both the public and private sector, so it’s important that you find the relevant union operating in your sector that is best placed to assist you.

 

All workers have a right to join a trade union. It is illegal for an employer to disadvantage someone because they are a member of a trade union.

 

Some trade unions may place restrictions on who can join because they organise and represent across specific sectors or specialisms, such as health care, education, or construction.

 

Further information and guidance can be found on the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) website.

The UK Government website also has some guidance for organisations working with Trade Unions.