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Home Opinion Boss denies ‘culture of fear’ | There’s no point in asking staff their opinion if you’re not going to listen

Boss denies ‘culture of fear’ | There’s no point in asking staff their opinion if you’re not going to listen

by Tunae
There's no point in asking staff their opinion if you're not going to listen

An international HR story recently made headlines when Mayor of the Canadian town Windsor denied having a ‘culture of fear’ despite employee feedback data suggesting otherwise.

The council carried out an employee experience survey with PwC and found that staff were “concerned with speaking up and expressing thoughts freely” and wanted leaders to provide a safe environment “to share diverse perspectives”.

However, when asked by reporters about the survey results, the Canadian Mayor denied employees “coming to work fearful”, saying that “at the end of the day, (the city council) don’t have a culture of fear.”

It’s unusual to see such a blatant disregard of employee experience data. And so, it highlights, in a rather extreme way, the need for employers to not only do EX surveys and investigations to tick a box, but to respond effectively to what their staff are telling them. The consequences of this could be catastrophic for a company.

The risks of ignoring your people data

What’s the point in spending time and money collecting valuable information from your staff on how you can make them happier and your company better if you’re not going to use it? It doesn’t really make sense. And too often, employers spend heaps of money on a tick-box exercise that adds no value to their firm because they don’t adequately respond to what their staff are telling them.

Ironically, the Mayor of Windsor denying a toxic culture despite employees suggesting there is one is a signal of the type of workplace environment that likely exists – one where the buck stops with leadership. Cultivating a workplace where staff are afraid to voice their perspective.

This type of environment is negative for a myriad of reasons – it stunts innovation and breeds toxicity through the organisation and causes dissatisfaction and high rates of turnover.

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Beyond this, the act of asking employees what they think and feel and then overtly ignoring them and suggesting the inverse can have a detrimental impact and can be worse than not doing anything at all.

You must respond to staff feedback. This is the basic foundation of cultivating positive employee experience. The relationships in your organisation are all you really have. And so, fostering a culture of feedback and response is imperative to a healthy culture, and for corporate companies, is imperative to growth.

This doesn’t necessarily mean giving employees exactly what they ask for, this isn’t always in the remit of many organisations. But it does mean acknowledging and validating what they have said, at a bare minimum, and then making it clear you’re taking what they’ve said into account. Only then can you start to build an incredibly successful organisation.

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