Five benefits of taking the time to listen to your staff

Wednesday February 7, 2024

It may surprise you that the saying “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak” dates back to Roman times and the famous Stoic Epictetus.

Well, there’s some HR advice from history, because listening is a trait of good leadership!

Fast-forward to modern times and if only the Post Office had listened more to its sub-postmasters before it decided to prosecute them.


How to be a good listener

It is easy to take listening for granted, but how well do you take on board the views of your team? Here are a few tips on listening to get you started in a work context.

  1. Think about the channels you offer for employee communication. Is your door always open? Do you hold regular 121 appraisals or check-ins where two-way feedback is encouraged? Do you survey your staff from time to time?
  2. Show you are a good listener when in conversation. Give them opportunity to speak; display good body language (for instance, eye contact); take notes if you need to.
  3. Follow up with action and communication. Nothing will say bad listener more than if you hear what they say and then take no discernible action. Even if you don’t agree with them, take the time to explain this and thank them for raising the point with you.


Benefits of being a good listener

Being a good listener is not some empty gesture; there will be tangible benefits to you as an employer.

1. Better company ideas

With each of your team having their own daily experience of life in your company, they are bound to notice things that could be done better, and have the occasional flash of inspiration. By fostering a culture of listening you make it easier for these ideas to find their way to you so you can implement them. Maybe it will help you cut costs or start offering a new service that sparks growth.

2. Avoid disaster

Conversely, your employees may be the “canary in the coalmine”, providing the key information that prevents a disaster (as could have been the case at the Post Office). Make sure your team always know they can come to you when there is a problem, so you can put it right as soon as possible.

3. Improve morale

Listening to your employees can help improve morale in your business in a number of ways. One study from Penn State University in America revealed that managers who actively listen to employees help to alleviate feelings of job insecurity. It is also a way of signalling that you value their presence and their input, which in turn will contribute towards a happy and productive workplace. Make sure that everyone has equal opportunity to be heard.

4. Boost retention

Building on the value of good morale, your listening skills can also help boost retention. Making employees feel valued is an important part of having them stick around. In fact, one survey found that 41% of people had left a job due to feeling they were not listened to. More than that, involving employees in decision-making through listening to them is also a great way of encouraging their development and creating a pathway to promotion opportunities.

5. Improve your own skills

Actively listening to your employees is a skill in itself, and through practice you will get better at it. This will help you as a business leader and in other walks of life by becoming a more collaborative and rounded person.


Further help

We have a variety of training solutions to help you or your line managers to upskill, from in-person workshops to eLearning courses. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

Preventing People Problems

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Office Address: Portland House, Belmont Business Park, Durham, DH1 1TW | VAT Number: 206711045 | Registration Number: 9438642

Copyright © 2007 - 2019 The HR Dept Ltd. HR DEPT is a registered trademark belonging to The HR Dept Limited.