The business benefits of consulting your staff

In 2005, an EC Directive on informing and consulting employees came into force, giving many employees new rights to be consulted on key issues affecting the business or work organisation.

In fact, asking staff for their input can have a number of positive benefits for your business, as outlined below.

Creating a profit culture

Your staff are your key business asset. They know your business, and can highlight practical issues that arise on a day-to-day basis, helping systems to become more efficient and cost-effective, and identifying opportunities for generating new business.

Involving them in the business strategy will also encourage team ownership of projects, and enables all parties to understand their role in achieving the firm's key goals, creating a profit culture throughout the business.

Increasing productivity

Group consultation assists internal communication, and allows employees to feel more informed about issues affecting them. These factors in turn have a positive effect on motivation and productivity.

Here are five ideas for encouraging your employees to give their input:

1. Run a brainstorming session
Brainstorming sessions encourage creative thinking and can be an effective way of finding solutions to existing problems and generating fresh ideas.

2. Install an 'ideas box'
Providing a suggestions box in the office will allow staff to raise points as and when they arise, and also gives them the option to remain anonymous.

3. Request updates
Ask each department to submit a monthly progress report, which includes details of their achievements, frustrations, and future goals. This will ensure that staff remain focused and forward-looking while also allowing them to highlight any obstacles they may be facing.

4. Hold regular strategy meetings
Bring staff in on the game by holding monthly strategy meetings. Set a clear agenda which involves everyone, and make sure that the relevant people follow up the points raised. (Remember that this is a forum for offering ideas and suggestions, rather than negotiating issues, and management must retain the ultimate decision-making powers).

5. Have a group 'away day'
Holding an away day at a local venue can be an extremely productive exercise. Staff can take part in team-building activities in a relaxed environment, and the risk of interruptions is minimised.

Finally...

Remember to tell staff when you have acted on their ideas. Employees will appreciate the fact that you are actively seeking their opinions, and will be encouraged to continue looking for ways in which the business can become more profitable.

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