Paula Darch 10 August 2022 12 min read

The employee voice and your intranet

The CIPD explains the employee voice as “the means by which people communicate their views to their employer and influence matters that affect them at work”. It’s all about giving employees the confidence and the tools to express how they feel honestly and openly, and when employees are allowed to share their opinions and feelings, this will more likely lead to a culture of trust, appreciation and authenticity.

From the employers’ point of view, by encouraging employees to express themselves, this lays the foundations for more positive relationships between leaders and their teams. Plus, employees are more likely to stick around, be more productive and want to contribute to the success of the business. In fact, according to a UK inquiry by The Smith Institute, listening (both individually and collectively) to what staff have to say was rated as the top factor that would improve the value of services or products produced by an organisation.

So, how can you nurture a culture in which the employee voice is encouraged, and what role does an intranet play? Let’s find out.

Encouraging the employee voice

Employees simply won’t give honest feedback if they think there might be repercussions. Encouraging employees to be honest and open within a toxic culture, for instance, will only lead to even greater toxicity rather than improved relationships and trust. Worryingly, one in three employees feel like their organisation retaliates against those who provide feedback, and one in four employees feel ignored when they share their feedback.

And so nurturing the employee voice must form part of improving the whole employee experience, in which leaders actively build a culture of understanding, feedback and collaboration. From ensuring the company’s values are understood and reinforced daily, through to making sure that everyone is given an equal opportunity to grow and develop, the foundations must be put in place so that every individual feels psychologically safe at work, and therefore able to ‘speak their mind’.

How can the intranet support the employee voice?

As well as building a positive company culture so that employees feel able to contribute their views and opinions, they must have easy access to tools that allow them to be part of the conversation. A feedback culture without having any feedback tools in place, is like giving a keynote speaker a platform without a microphone.

An intranet is the ideal tool to support the employee voice. If you already have an intranet in place and it’s mainly used as a staff directory and for pushing out corporate news, it may be hard to appreciate the power of an intranet for supporting everyday employee conversations.

In fact, when used correctly, an agile intranet can transform employee engagement through facilitating two-way conversations via blogs/microblogs, news articles, vlogs and much more.  

By opening-up the intranet to all staff and not making it a ‘corporate platform’, it can become ‘the voice of the people’, allowing everyone to feedback on company changes, proposed ideas, and achievements, for example.

Colleagues can also share their own ideas on how to improve the business, and can be invited to be part of the decision-making process for new initiatives. Some organisations even use the intranet for live question and answer sessions with the CEO and other members of the leadership team, ensuring employees have direct access to the business’ decision makers.

But the intranet can and should be a platform for more than work discussions - it can facilitate personal and meaningful discussions. Bringing personal conversations into the workplace, allows employees to be their ‘authentic selves’ rather than ‘putting on an act’, and means they’re more likely to open-up when needed. And so employees must be allowed to start their own threads and draft their own blogs on topics important to them, from gender equality and LGBTQ+ through to mental health struggles.

VIVID , one of Hampshire’s largest providers of affordable homes, is a good example of how an organisation has developed its intranet to become a ‘safe space’ for importance conversations. People’s voices are welcomed with frequent blogs from employees across the company. In fact, more than 70 employees from all parts of the organisation - from back-end support staff through to senior managers – regularly upload content from their own business divisions.

With mental health top of mind, the intranet has become a key wellbeing support resource, making it a safe space for employees to voice their opinion, connect with others and reach out for help. And the intranet has also proved key to tackling stigma around mental health and other taboo subjects.

However, to ensure every employee is part of the conversation, it’s important that everyone can access the intranet, and can quickly and easily create content. This means investing in a mobile-enabled intranet so that field/front-line staff who are without a desktop, aren’t excluded. Plus, employees need to be able to read and respond to content from their sofas and while commuting, for example.

Listening and acting on feedback

Facilitating the employee voice using an intranet platform is a crucial part of an ‘active listening’ strategy in which companies encourage the employee voice and then respond to what people are saying. As it stands, only 51 per cent of employees think their organisation is great at listening to them. Also, 34 percent believe that their company doesn’t listen to their ideas for improving the business.

HR departments that are looking to improve the ‘employee voice’ must not only use the right tools to enable employee conversations, but must actively respond to what their people are telling them.

The intranet provides evidence in ‘black and white’ of what people think of company news, changes and initiatives. It highlights what’s important to people and what’s of little interest. And through an analysis of content views, engagement rates and even survey responses, communications and HR teams can work together to understand what the data is telling them and what needs to be done to improve the employee experience.

Making employee conversations a priority

Employee engagement specialist, WorkBuzz, states that “the employee voice has never been more important”. They assert that during the pandemic, organisations that prioritised the employee voice were able to use employee feedback to better understand how their people were coping, what employee wellbeing support was required, and how to shape future decisions on areas such as hybrid working.

For many, the crucial role of the employee voice is only now being fully appreciated. And it’s the role of HR and business leaders to put the right platforms in place to facilitate the employee voice, and importantly, continually listen to what people are saying. Organisations that fail to appreciate how important employee feedback is, will simply struggle to retain talent and remain competitive!


Paula Darch

Paula is our marketing whizz and is passionate about intranet engagement and getting the most out of your intranet software.