Engaging Frontline Employee Voice

Enabling and listening to employee voice can unlock efficiency, productivity, and innovation

Human resources, DEIB and operations leaders know that while signing bonuses and increased pay can help get employees in the door, it won’t necessarily keep them there. Prioritizing employee voice, both the mechanisms through which it travels and the cultural conditions that let it thrive, can help employers address your talent and business concerns while better supporting your frontline. By enabling and listening to employee voice, you can unlock efficiency, productivity, and innovation across your organization.

And Talent Rewire knows that creating an environment and culture where employees can safely provide input is hard work which is why we created this tool for human resources, DEIB and operations leaders at companies of all sizes.

Explore Engaging Frontline Employee Voice

Enabling Conditions for Change

Engaging and prioritizing employee voice is an important way to address your talent and business concerns while better supporting your frontline employees but doing so authentically and effectively goes beyond regularly hosting town halls or collecting survey data.

Drawing on our research and reflecting on our work with employers and frontline employees, we see five conditions that can enable a culture where employee voice can thrive.

pinwheel graphic with each enabling condition represented by a different color

pinwheel graphic highlighting enabling condition number one

Shift narratives about frontline employees while valuing and respecting their contributions to the business

Valuing the knowledge and expertise of frontline employees is essential to the ongoing success of a company. The most important message we heard from our frontline advisors was a desire to be seen as human and to be treated with dignity. To share their voice at work, employees must feel valued, and employers must value the expertise of their employees and seek out their perspectives.

pinwheel graphic highlighting enabling condition number two

Invest in training employees at all levels to create psychological safety

Creating a culture of psychological safety is key to enabling employee voice. Employees are less likely to express their perspective if they do not believe it is sought out in good faith, they fear retaliation, and/or they do not believe it is possible for their words and input to have an impact.


pinwheel graphic highlighting enabling condition number three

Ensure there is authentic buy-in at all levels of the company

When engaging with frontline employees, leaders must authentically invest in relationships with frontline employees to build trust over time rather than engaging employees when there is an urgent issue. Demonstrating vulnerability and acknowledging gaps or mistakes is an important part of this process. The payoff for intentional trust and relationship building often comes during challenging situations when decisions need to be made swiftly.

pinwheel graphic highlighting enabling condition number four

Listen for understanding, communicate transparently and remain open to feedback

Transparent, consistent, and inclusive communication practices give employees the information they need to express their perspectives at work and do their job effectively. Transparent communication also builds trust between employees and their employer. Being upfront about areas of growth individually and as a company helps build a culture of openness and understanding where in which everyone can make mistakes and learn from them.

pinwheel graphic highlighting enabling condition number five

Follow through on commitments and/or share when action is not possible

Engaging employee voice is not only about seeking their perspective, but also about acknowledging and acting on what is shared. Research has shown that gathering feedback and not recognizing it and/or acting on it can have a more negative impact than not gathering feedback at all.

How to Use This Tool

We designed this to be an interactive tool you can engage with individually or with your team. Transforming systems can be difficult and slow – it can also be lonely work if you are going it alone. We encourage you to engage with team members as you go through the guide – print it out, make notes as you consider the prompts, have discussions, and move to action.

We love sticky notes – whether they’re stuck on the wall or they’re virtual sticky notes in a program like MURAL or Jamboard. As you move through the tool you’ll see that it is designed to simulate a brainstorming session, whether in-person or virtual.

Upcoming Engagement Opportunity

Talent Rewire is hosting Activate Employee Voice to Become an Employer of Choice, a 2-day, in-person workshop on October 25 – 26, 2022 in San Diego that will explore why consistent engagement of the frontline is an essential part of being an employer of choice and how companies can start to build an environment and culture that foster trust and belonging. If you have a significant frontline workforce based in California and want to explore this opportunity, click below to learn more.

What’s Next

Whether you are an employer or an organization that provides support and training for employers and employees, our program offerings can be tailored to address your specific business needs, your geography, and your diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging goals. You can learn more about upcoming opportunities at www.talentrewire.org or by reaching out to us directly.