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Many people have been talking about the impact of social media on employee engagement and employee voice, but for time-constrained organizational leaders and human capital professionals who want to understand the connections, it’s virtually impossible to find those conversations, let alone read and make sense of them. Many organisations, as part of their efforts to be an employer of choice and provide a better experience for their employees, are committed to enhancing employee engagement.
There is a mass of literature demonstrating the link between employee engagement and various organisational benefits. The report (available for free here) proposes the adoption of an approach that focuses on social media within the workplace, empowering employees to speak up. The report also argues that our conceptualisation of employee voice should not be static, but rather should evolve in line with technological and social developments. Social technologies allowing new forms of collaboration also lend themselves to collective decision-making. To date, much of the conversation within organisations has been about the risks and threats (especially to employers) that may be associated with social media. We still don’t know which aspects of organisational culture will be most affected and what new advancements will arise to enable an enhanced employee voice. Companies are encouraged to mirror the use of social media in our everyday lives to cultivate an information sharing and communicative environment where people feel as though they can voice their opinions and really are listened to – something which has not been possible until now.

In recent years, as a result of the relentless advance of social media, employee voice too, is evolving rapidly. This aggregation is crucial in the evolution of employee voice because it is a necessary condition under which the wisdom of crowds can be harnessed.
However, the perils of an open approach to employee voice and the benefits of more traditional closed systems are often overrated. Despite these uncertainties, one thing is for sure; drastic changes are afoot to the way in which employee voice is expressed within organisations. She has an MSc in Organisational Psychology from Goldsmiths in London and specialises in the application of social technologies to employee research. Commissioned by the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD), it synthesizes the relevant literature and discusses its implications.
But in spite of their good intentions and sincere investments, employee engagement surveys often don’t provide the meaningful insights they claim to.
However, where there is an increased prominence of employee engagement, employee voice still remains in the shadows and in many organisations never gets beyond the annual employee survey. The result is a new form of collective employee voice that is mobile, organised and intelligent.

What is advertised is an opportunity to speak up where all opinions are heard, but in reality what is conducted is a tick box exercise that is often tiresome for employees to complete. Apart from transitioning to the internet and some advances in analytical capabilities, the basic model of employee surveys has broadly stayed the same for the last 50 years. This has developed from giving employees a say behind closed doors to enabling them to engage in an open forum.
This reiterates the point that organisations should be designing their future in employee voice. With the decline in response rates to engagement surveys, getting employees’ views seems more difficult than ever. When we consider that social technologies are offering some pioneering ways of eliciting voice, it is a particularly pertinent time to review current thinking in this area and embrace social media platforms in order to encourage advancement and change.
This is contradictory to the ever increasing online presence people have where thoughts and feelings are shared willingly.

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