Ways to Feel Seen and Heard in the Workplace

Ways to Feel Seen and Heard in the Workplace
Photo: Unsplash.com

By: Maria Williams

According to leadership and culture expert Mary Meston, CHPC, “In today’s hybrid AI-hyped outcome-driven work environment, it’s easy for employees to feel like mere cogs in the corporate machine. Fostering a workplace culture that values each individual and their contributions is crucial”. 

With four decades of experience consulting in small to large global firms and in human-centered coaching, Ms. Meston is strengthening her efforts to revolutionize a focus on a critical differentiator in business – the human aspects. “It is imperative that we focus on the human aspects of our employees even more. I am finding that leaders that double down and focus on the personal and human aspects are seeing far more success than those that allow the AI hype to distract them into thinking that leadership and culture are passe.”

Seen as a difference maker and expert in all things change in the world of work, she offers four practical ways to ensure employees feel seen and heard. 

Open and Regular Communication

Communication is the thread that ties a company, an organization or even a global enterprise together. Good communication doesn’t just happen. It takes focus, consistency and honesty.   A healthy workplace fosters an environment for employees to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of reprisal or undue judgment. It is as simple yet delicate as creating various forums for open communication. Regular and honest two-way communication allows employees to voice their opinions, share insights, and discuss concerns.

In addition to team meetings, regular one-on-one check-ins and ad hoc discussions between managers and employees deepen the impact of good communication. This personalized approach allows employees to discuss their work, ask questions, and seek guidance in a more intimate setting. 

Moreover, embracing digital communication tools can enhance accessibility and inclusivity, especially in today’s remote or hybrid work environments. Collaboration platforms, messaging apps, and video conferencing tools bridge gaps between team members, making it easier for everyone to contribute and stay connected.

Active Listening

Active listening is one of the most potent ways to make employees feel seen and heard. Active listening involves hearing spoken words and understanding the underlying emotions and concerns. When employees feel that their thoughts and opinions are genuinely valued, it creates a sense of validation and acknowledgment.

Leaders can practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding in agreement, and providing verbal affirmations during conversations. It’s essential to show empathy and refrain from interrupting, allowing employees to express themselves fully. Additionally, following up on discussions and implementing changes based on employee feedback demonstrates a commitment to their well-being and growth.

Creating anonymous channels for feedback, such as suggestion boxes for the brick-and-mortar office or hybrid world digital surveys, encourages employees to share their thoughts with little likelihood of negative consequences. Anonymity allows for candid insights that might not surface in more public forums, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Recognition and Appreciation

Regularly recognizing and appreciating employees for their hard work and contributions is another fundamental aspect of making them feel seen and valued. Recognition can take various forms, from shout-outs during team meetings to more personalized acts of appreciation, such as handwritten notes, small tokens of appreciation or, for many, just a little extra approved time away from their PC.

Implementing an employee recognition program can formalize the process and ensure enterprise-wide application and consistency. This program could include monthly awards, peer-to-peer recognition, or a designated space on the company’s intranet (virtual wall) to showcase individual accomplishments. 

Furthermore, involving employees in decision-making and giving them opportunities to lead or contribute to projects can be a powerful form of recognition. Active contribution and engagement in projects showcase trust in their abilities, allowing them to take pride in their work and feel a sense of ownership.

Ways to Feel Seen and Heard in the Workplace
Photo Courtesy: Mary Meston

Professional Development Opportunities

Employee growth and development have gained importance as an engagement strategy. What was once admirable to have is now critical to maintaining marketable skills in an ever-increasing, fast-paced work world. Providing developmental opportunities signals to an employee that their potential is recognized and valued. 

Personalized professional development plans for individual unique goals, talents and aspirations help an organization demonstrate their interest and commitment in each employee’s journey. Customized development plans are a natural outcome of regular career development discussions, where employees and managers collaboratively set goals and identify opportunities for skill enhancement.

Encouraging a learning culture within the organization fosters an environment where employees feel stimulated and engaged. Access to internal and external online courses, conferences, or workshops, helping employees stay up on industry trends and continuously expand their knowledge and skills, is the first step in creating a learning culture.  

In conclusion, making employees feel seen and heard is not just a nicety but a crucial element of a thriving workplace, an engaging culture and a successful enterprise. Open communication, active listening, recognition and appreciation, and professional development opportunities are four simple yet powerful ways to foster a sense of belonging and value among employees. By prioritizing these simple strategies, organizations create a foundation and environment where employees are not just cogs in the machine’s wheel but active participants in their professional journey. 

Published by: Holy Minoza


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