Who knows all about the intrinsic ‘in-and-outs’ of your organisation – ie, what makes people tick, and what ticks them off? Who really understands how things work – and why they don’t? Who really knows what your clients like about your products – and what they don’t?

Is it you, your accountant, your lawyer, your HR manager, your senior leadership? To varying degrees, yes. However, there’s one set of people missing from this list that often know much more than you think. Your employees.

Your employees are a goldmine of information and knowledge. They know more about what really goes on day in and day out than anyone else. Yet, in many organisations there’s an invisible barrier that prevents them from sharing this knowledge – and business owners from capitalising upon it.

Defining the invisible barrier

The invisible barrier is present in most organisations to a greater or lesser extent.

From the employees’ perspective, it’s the unseen, unheard but constant presence that prevents them from being completely open and honest about their concerns, having the confidence to ask questions, sharing their ideas, or feeling like they have the freedom/permission to provide constructive feedback on existing initiatives, colleagues and leadership.

From a business owner’s perspective, it’s just as present, and in their case, it’s the thing that prevents them from really getting under the skin of their organisation – however much they want to, in fact, need to!

The impact of the invisible barrier

For certain, varying amounts of time, employees will accept the status quo, go about their business, and do the job they’re paid for as efficiently as they can. The problem with this is that inherently, employees come to work wanting to do more. They want to contribute, have a say, demonstrate their abilities and expertise – they want to be engaged and be acknowledged for it. They want to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work and not be a shell of an employee – but the invisible barrier stops them from doing so.

Left unchecked, over time, the invisible barrier becomes wider and wider until eventually it feels impenetrable. So, eventually, the situation will go one of two ways:

The impact on employees What this means to you
They take their engagement elsewhere because they become bored with going through the motions and fed up with their skills, ability to contribute, and knowledge not being properly utilised. They feel underestimated and undervalued. Another organisation will capitalise upon their knowledge and as a result, get the benefit of the training you’ve already paid for. As a result, their business becomes more innovative, more productive, more profitable. You, on the other hand, are faced with the cost, inconvenience, and disruption of hiring a replacement. This eventually becomes a vicious circle repeating on a constant loop.
They keep their disengagement at your business. They’re just as bored with going through the motions and fed up with their skills, ability to contribute, and knowledge not being properly utilised. They feel underestimated and undervalued – and they’re doing it on your dollar. The cost of disengagement increasing negatively impacts your bottom line. You end up employing a team of what can best be described as ‘half a person’, with half an employee’s productivity. Both you and your employees waste time and energy in game playing. Disengagement is like a virulent disease – highly contagious, deeply unpleasant, often painful, and sometimes even having a terminal impact on your business.

Both sides of the divide know it’s there and want to break through it – but don’t know how.

Breaking down the invisible barrier

Employees have an abundance of knowledge and you want it – so what’s the missing structure that’s going to break down the barrier and open up a channel of honest, productive, forward-thinking, two-way communication and insight?

The answer – you need a confidential and anonymous structure and framework that enables you to extract this valuable knowledge in a way that’s timely, efficient to run, and quick and easy for you to interpret and implement. Importantly, however, it absolutely needs to provide your employees with an ROI. It needs to provide them with a safe environment to share their feedback and ideas on a regular basis.

But how…?

You can try to create this internally but the reality is unless the structure you’re implementing is independent of your company, the chances are, your employees aren’t going to trust it 100% – and the barrier remains.

If you’re interested in understanding more about a structure that works, sign up for a free trial of Engagement Multiplier