Most employees don’t feel their ideas are being heard

New research reveals most employees have ideas to improve the business, yet many companies are failing to listen to them.

Over a third of employees (34 per cent) worldwide think that their company doesn’t listen to their ideas for improving the business.

The findings from Sideways6 have been announced alongside the launch of its inaugural State of Employee Ideas report, which explores how employees at all levels, at businesses of all sizes, all over the world feel their company treats their ideas.

In today’s world, where employees are investing more time into finding new ways for their company to improve, research discovered that 82 per cent of employees have ideas about how their company can achieve this. However, many respondents also think their ideas are being ignored by their employers, with 39 per cent of females feeling that their ideas are not being listened to, compared to 30 per cent of males.

Are employees afraid to speak up?

Interestingly, despite the number of ideas they have, many employees remain fearful of voicing them. According to the findings, one fifth (18 per cent) of those same ideas are never heard because employees are afraid to put them forward.

The results also identified a clear disparity in levels of confidence to put forward ideas between younger and older employees. When surveyed, 64 per cent of senior level employees strongly agreed that they have ideas and aren’t afraid to voice them, compared to 42 per cent of junior level employees.

However, these responses do not appear to be the result of employees not having the correct ideas about how their company can improve. The survey found that most employees reported having a clear understanding of the challenges faced by the business. When asked how far they agree with the statement, ‘I know the problems the company need to solve’, less than three per cent disagreed.

The survey also revealed some interesting insights about the actions that companies are taking to manage the employee idea pipeline. When asked about their company’s methods for managing employee ideas, the findings stated that less than a third of companies (32 per cent) have a clear process in place and that existing methods remain predominantly informal, ad hoc and unstructured.

Which industries are most likely to listen to their employees’ ideas?

The research also explored which industries perform the best when it comes to employee listening.

It found that service industries are leading the way, with 75 per cent of employees surveyed who work in services reporting feeling that their ideas are valued by their company. Meanwhile, 63 per cent of survey respondents working in the transportation industry and 43 per cent working in the retail industry feel as though their ideas aren’t valued.

Commenting on the findings, Will Read, founder and CEO of Sideways 6 said that as businesses grow and innovation becomes increasingly more challenging, it is essential that decision makers are listening to the people who know their business best of all – their employees – in order to find new ways to help their business succeed,

‘These findings show that many employees have ideas but do not have the confidence or knowledge of how best to put them forward. It is now essential that more companies take the required steps to provide their employees with an accessible way for them to share ideas and be heard by those able to put them into action.’

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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