Written by Bryant Eggett, COO

Your frontline workers have significant insight into performance of management, vital input about manufacturing processes and crucial information to help improve your organization as a whole.

Gathering data from your frontline seems straightforward, but how can you control for the integrity of what workers submit?

Often culture, fear of retribution or poor communication skills stand in the way of data integrity, making it harder to discover problems and find effective solutions. How can brands and their suppliers empower workers to share truthful, relevant information, and use this data to the organization’s advantage?

As COO of MicroBenefits—a mobile platform that solicits worker opinions—I have seen how the following three principles improves candor among workers. 

Make it Comfortable to Share

The way you gather feedback should match the communication patterns and habits of your workforce. For example, MicroBenefits’ targets a mostly transient workforce whose only sense of permanence is their smartphone. Their tech savvy and their mobile device rarely leaves their hands.

We’ve found engaging workers via their mobile device leads to higher participation rates and better data. It’s a venue that feels personal, so they feel confident expressing feedback, and can submit it at a time and place convenient for them.

Our customers have also found that using this mobile platform makes deployment extremely scalable, allowing them to collect and process data faster. Making it easy for workers, and easy for you, increases the integrity of data and likelihood that you use it to make improvements. 

Listen and Act… Promptly

Be prepared to take action on results and incorporate them into your organization as quickly as possible. Anticipate what you may need to put in place to implement feedback received, as well as what you will do if workers’ voice points to something you haven’t thought about.

When thinking about listening and acting ask yourself two questions:

  1. Will implementing a desired change from workers produce the desired outcome? For example, will a change in time-off policies actually produce greater happiness among your workforce and therefore, higher productivity?
  2. Can you act quickly? It is better to be 80% right and moving quickly than 100% right and moving slowly. If you take too long to implement worker feedback, the very employees who provided that feedback may no longer even work for your organization.

Exhibit Transparency

Productive feedback helps workers understand what matters to their peers. Transparency shows leadership and confidence, and creates a culture of openness that encourages future sharing of candid feedback that can help your organization–and the individuals within it–progress.

Some organizations shy away from transparency, concerned about airing their “dirty laundry.” And some information could prove more harmful than helpful. Thoughtfully sharing productive feedback and focusing on solutions to problems, rather than the problem itself, sends the message that your organization takes on challenges and solves them.

An organization that can effectively obtain worker voice poises itself to tackle many challenges that have no clear answer, such as high turnover. What obstacles have you faced in obtaining worker voice? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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