Don't just listen, act on feedback from employees, says Oracle's Queen Mokonoto

A lot of Queen's success has come from understanding that employee engagement impacts business performance.

Oracle HR Director Queen Mokonoto has a passion for driving change management in organisations. Throughout her career, she has overseen major organisational transitions. It was this reputation that led to her being headhunted by Oracle.

A lot of her success has come from understanding that employee engagement levels have a direct impact on employee's performance and consequently on the bottom line, because employees have a wealth of information about what it is like to work at your company, and what your customers are telling them about your company and your competitors.

They also have considerable knowledge about what can be done to improve your company's productivity, quality, customer service, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, growth and profit, and what can be done to improve your risk profile. Equally important is that your employees know know how engaged they are and what can be done to increase their level of engagement.

Nevertheless, it is surprising how many companies there are out there that do employee engagement surveys and have managers that claim to have 'open-door' policies, but do very little to act on the concerns raised by employees.

Throughout her career, Queen has always had a wonderful relationship with all her key stakeholders, from employees at lower levels to executives, as well as union officials. This is because she understood that, in every relationship, people fight because they don't listen to each other. 

"One thing that companies tend to get wrong when it comes to employee engagement is that they will listen to concerns and consult their employees on a particular issue, but then they don't deal with their concerns effectively," says Queen.

"We fight when one party thinks they know better than the other. So what is important is to listen attentively and make sure that an issue is resolved, even if one or both parties aren't completely satisfied with the outcome. Ultimately, fairness must prevail over all things else."

A common problem arises when organisations demand more productivity without creating a conducive work environment that enables and motivates employees at all levels. Meanwhile, Queen says there is also a tendency to view employees as the root of all the problems within the business, forgetting that there are managers who are creating those problems. If an organisation has a culture in which employee grievances are perceived as negative or putting management in a bad light, employees will either further resent the company, lose the confidence to express their grievances in the future, or even lose faith in management to actually attempt to solve their grievances.

The purpose of any grievance mechanism is to draw management's attention to employees' grievances and to settle them in the most effective way at the lowest possible level.

Educate employee about the business imperatives

Queen says you also have to educate employees because sometimes employees do not fully understand the business imperatives. What you want is to have an emotional contract between the business and the employees where employees deliver on what is expected from them out of their own volition. Not because their pay depends on it but rather because they are intrinsically committed to executing those tasks that are in line with the business's objectives. 

"An emotional contract comes when you don't have to convince employees to be present at work because they are already driven by the culture and vision that the organisation is headed in," says Queen.

Highly satisfied employees are more engaged in their jobs, their productivity is higher and they do more to generate profit for your company. While company financials and other "hard data" measurements are important for assessing your company's performance, they are missing important information, insight and perceptions that can only be gathered by directly asking your employees. Employee engagement surveys and employee satisfaction surveys are the best, most cost-effective way to gather comprehensive information accurately from a large portion of your employees about how satisfied and how engaged they are, and what needs to be done to increase employee satisfaction and engagement.