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The difference between happy employees and disgruntled employees often comes down to one important factor: inclusiveness. Employees who feel as though their opinions and ideas are important are typically happier, more productive employees, so it goes to reason that involving employees in decisions that affect their work environment can have distinct advantages.
Ask any smart manager or employment expert how to make a difficult workplace change more palatable to the employees affected, and you'll likely get the same answer -- buy-in. Employees who feel their opinions on matters that affect them have been heard and considered are more likely to accept change with minimal grumbling and dissent, regardless of whether the change positively or negatively impacts their work. Not getting buy-in can be dangerous, writes Jim Warnemuende in his "Business Bridge" column for "The Redding Record." "On occasion, [employees] feel there may not be room for them in the new configuration or their skills might be replaced with a machine or computer. When such fears abound, employees may unintentionally derail your plans."
Letting employees know their voices are being heard in important decisions is empowering, both in the big decisions and in everyday work, as well. Including employees in decision making is proof that management respects and values their insight and experience, an acknowledgement that inevitably filters down past decision-time. No one likes to feel as though he is taken for granted and/or incapable of handling the big challenges. Empowered employees feel confident in their abilities and happier with their work.
Say you're a middle manager supervising the managers over retail floor employees. Yes, you worked the sales floor yourself, but it's been several years ago. Still, you're responsible for the decisions that affect floor employees' workplaces on a day-to-day basis. Are you asking these employees for their input?
Employees can give managers fresh ideas into problems and solutions, especially when it's been quite some time since management has worked the same job as the employees. The employees who do the work day-to-day often have a better understanding of the problems and challenges, and can add insight that management alone can't touch.
You know that old saying, "two heads are better than one?" Nowhere is that truer than in corporate decision making. When all the decisions come from the top down, you run the risk of stagnating, of modeling your business on the attitudes and ideas of just a few key employees. Involving more employees in strategic decisions allows for more creativity and broader vision, both attributes any company should both welcome and strive for.
A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.
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