How being able to raise issues affects your Happiness at Work
When you feel able to raise issues and “have a voice” in improving your organization, it builds your Happiness at Work.
And this feeling can help turn dissatisfaction and dissent into positive change. Van Dyne & LePine (1998), as well as De Dreu and West (2001), found that when employees were encouraged to contribute ideas beyond their specific job description, criticism was turned into innovation and improvement.
And when Hirschman (1970) and Kim (2002) investigated it, they observed that if you can raise issues, you’re likely to exhibit greater investment in your organization. Hirschman suggests that when your organization seems to decrease in quality or benefit to you, then you can either
'voice' your opinion. This doesn’t just apply to companies, but also to entities like countries or social groups (or Pan-European Unions…), and the lesson is clear: if you want to keep your people, they need to be able to raise issues.
There are two key things organizations can do to encourage their people to raise issues constructively.
Hold regular, effective team meetings
Holding effective meetings isn’t easy. It’s a real skill, one which has to be learned. And we think there are so many benefits from running effective meetings that we wrote a whole book about it! One of the big benefits of effective team meetings is that people can raise issues which are important to them.
If a meeting is well-managed and respectful, and gives you an opportunity to voice dissent and propose solutions, then your engagement and Happiness at Work is increased.
And when you have regular problem-solving meetings which foster independence and sustainability, you’ll perform better than other people who don’t have those same meetings.
Promptly implement credible recommendations
In a really interesting study looking at shop floor employees, Axtell et al (2000) found that when it was clear that management paid attention to and acted upon employee concerns, employees were much more motivated and were more likely to bring up further possibly improvements.
The inverse is true too. Dejoy et al (2010) found that if an organization asks for suggestions and then doesn’t react to them in a timely manner, then the effectiveness of asking for suggestions is decreased. After all, who enjoys their words falling on deaf ears?
Something else to bear in mind: if an organization is trying to increase its Happiness at Work by soliciting and implementing suggestions, they need to guard against accidentally damaging some good things. For instance, implementing the wrong changes could damage what’s perceived to be a fair culture.
When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place. So, what we view our role as, is giving people that power.Mark Zuckerberg
When you encourage people to raise issues that are important to them, you should be aware that they want to improve the status quo, not criticise it. We can see this in our research: the happiest people raise 35 percent more issues than the least happy. And this means that they’re likely to stay happy! Things get improved, problems get fixed, and issues don’t grow larger because they’re dealt with at an early stage.
Do you want to raise issues, or encourage people who work with you to do so? Here are a few topics which you might like to make available:
- Improvements to process or practice
- Task allocations
- New information to consider when doing things
Encouraging employees to raise issues and recommend improvements and innovations can be a powerful tool in building Happiness at Work. But it’s important that you’re careful to respect employees’ voices, that you implement recommendations or explain why they’re not being implemented promptly, and that you don’t hurt something which is working well.
Can you raise issues which are important to you? Or are you afraid that your people don’t feel able to do so? Get in touch with us if there’s anything you’d like to talk about: we’re always happy to chat.