One in four (25%) UK employees don’t feel like they have a voice in their organisation, or that their employer encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from its staff, according to a new study by HR software provider Ciphr.
Of the 1,000 workers who took part in Ciphr’s survey on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, just over half (53%) believe that they have a voice within their company. The remaining 22% of respondents – that’s over six million people – were undecided on whether they have a voice or not (which perhaps implies that many of them don’t).
The results suggest that a huge swathe of the UK workforce could, potentially, be lacking a ‘voice’ in their organisation, which means that their views may not be being asked for, heard, or included in conversations and decisions that may directly affect them.
Female employees appear less likely than male employees to believe that they have a voice in their organisation (50% of surveyed women think they do have a voice at work, compared to 57% of surveyed men).
Feeling voiceless is even more pronounced among those at the start of their careers, with a third (33%) of women aged 18 to 24 years old reporting that they don’t think they have a voice in their organisation. Just one in six (17%) men of the same age feel that way.
Ciphr’s research shows that there is a direct link between feeling voiceless at work and a negative employee experience. Employees who don’t feel listened to and heard in their organisation are, unsurprisingly, less likely to stay at that organisation – and be unhappier and less engaged while they work there.
Of those who don’t feel that they have a voice in their organisation, or that their organisation encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from staff, less than a third (29%) report enjoying their job, only a quarter (26%) feel engaged and motivated at work, and just half (51%) intend to stay in their job for at least the next year.
In comparison, over three-quarters (81%) of those who do feel that they have a voice in their organisation, and that their organisation encourages, listens to, and acts on feedback from staff, said that they enjoy their jobs and have job satisfaction, while 82% intend to stay at their jobs. These ‘happier’ workers are also more likely to agree or strongly agree that they feel loyal to their organisation (79% of people who feel they have a voice vs 25% of those who feel voiceless), and feel included in, and consulted on, decisions that affect them (78% vs 17%).
What can employers do?
Ann Allcock, head of diversity at Ciphr and Marshall E-Learning, says: “Ciphr’s DEI&B survey results provide some significant and interesting insights into today’s workplace culture and practices.
“One finding that stands out for me is how the youngest employees feel less positive about their workplaces across all areas – which is disheartening and concerning.
“We know from other research that young people are more likely than older generations to call out bias at work, which may have become accepted and normalised over time. And that younger employees have higher expectations of their managers and leaders in terms of attitudes, skills and behaviours around diversity and inclusion, which, in itself, is a good sign that increased efforts around DEI and more inclusive recruitment practices are working. If they don’t see or experience the attitudes and skills they expect from their employers, then younger people will be less satisfied with their workplace.
“Having strong DEI&B credentials can make the difference between attracting, recruiting, and retaining that younger person with potential or not. So, employers would be well advised to consider what these survey results mean for them.
“Inclusion is about being proactive. There is so much that employers can do to enhance inclusion and belonging in their organisations. It’s important to focus your efforts and signal your commitment to delivering inclusion through training and policies, implemented from the top down; through clearly identifying individual responsibilities; and by fostering a workplace culture that understands, respects, and values each employee.”