I've been writing three business ideas a week in a journal for over two years. So, I decided to start a series where I put on my UX Designer hat and wireframe how some of these ideas could come to life. This is an exercise to help me get better at taking ideas into development by myself. Got it? Ok, here we go.
Leaders are always the last to know when an employee is unhappy. And by then, the employee has either found another job, or they've passed their breaking point. It sucks. It's unfair to leaders and to employees who may miss out on a great future with the company if they had just spoken up earlier.
Why don't employees speak up?
I have a few theories for this. One, employees think the leader is too busy to care about what one employee is feeling. Two, employees see others feeling a similar way and immediately conclude the leader doesn't care — because, of course, the leader should just know. And a third possibility is the opposite of the second — with employees feeling like they're the only one who feels the way they do, so it must be a personal problem and the job isn't the right cultural fit.
In any case, the employee finally tells the leader, and two weeks later, the leader is stuck spending time and money to backfill the position. And the employee is off to figure out if the grass is actually greener at another job. Again, this sucks for both sides.
Don't employee feedback systems exist?
Of course. The manual way for most companies includes asking for employees to answer a survey once a quarter to once a year. There are platforms that make this interaction more frequent, such as 15Five, Weekdone, and Reflektive.
These are great tools, but they can be overly complex and don't necessarily gauge the mood of the employee, or help increase a manager's EQ. These tools also allow leaders to have control over what questions are asked. And being people who don't have a lot of time, they'll inevitably try to use this tool to replace the need to have 1-on-1s with their employees. There needs to be a tool that doesn't replace much-needed 1-on-1s, just helps leaders figure out when and who needs their time — before the employee determines it's too late.
Ok, so what's your solution?
To minimize employee insecurity and give leaders the chance to be leaders and managers, I believe we need to make it easier for employees to signal their boss. I call this concept, EVNCE (pronounced like evince).
The premise is about as simple as it gets. It's one question that the employee gets asked twice a day. Once at the start of their workday and again at the end. The whole goal is to get employees to answer honestly, but quickly (because employees are busy too).
Once the employee answers, the boss is able to check how his employees are feeling in a dashboard. They can use this information to know when they should be paying special attention to specific employees — whether that's:
- Scheduling a 1-on-1 if they see a lot of days at "unhappy"
- Identifying the happiest employees and consulting with them to replicate it around the office
- Building a stronger connection with remote workers
Think of this as a leaders way of walking by and asking how everyone on their team is doing, and them feeling free enough to answer honestly.
So that's all we need to make employees happy?
Well, no. To work, this requires the business to really care about the happiness of its employees (ahem, all because retention). It requires leaders to pay attention and be active in utilizing the answers. And, it requires the employees to be honest. I also believe the more full-length survey should be used in concert with the concept I'm talking about.
But yeah, with all those factors at work, I believe leaders and employees will have a better understanding and a platform that raises not just leaders, but employees' emotional intelligence about themselves.