How To Get Your Employees Talking

Fostering conversation is critical to increasing collaboration, says Sabrina Wnorowski, VP of HR at Radial.
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Creating a culture where employees feel encouraged and comfortable speaking up is key to building collaboration, says Sabrina Wnorowski, vice president of human resources at Radial, a provider of eCommerce solutions based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

So how can HR leaders get employees talking? Wnorowski spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about building mentorships, encouraging feedback and making sure you include diverse perspectives.

As an HR leader, how have you promoted mentorship and encouraged professionals to learn from each other?

It’s important that I usher my organization into the future by modernizing HR practices and collaborating with our leadership on improving company culture. Positive company cultures create space for important conversations, and value insights from employees that can contribute to the workplace. It is proven that companies succeed in culture and in performance by incorporating more diverse perspectives.

To ensure my organization is becoming a workplace of the future and that we are building and maintaining a diverse and positive company culture, I apply input from employees who are new to the workforce and promote inclusivity through mentorship. A successful mentorship culture can help increase collaboration across your organization and help retain talent.

How are you approaching developing a mentorship culture at your organization?

Organic mentorships happen often at our organization, but we also know employees may need support to further networking and relationships. Our organization is implementing a support structure for all employees to connect with each other and develop productive partnerships where they can share insights to support individual development at all levels.

Potential mentors and mentees will have the opportunity to raise their hands to be a part of a mentor relationship and will commit to each other through contracts that support aligned expectations and positive outcomes.

What strategies are you using in your workforce to promote and cultivate company culture?

We start by ensuring we are listening to our employees. Regular surveys and focus groups provide employees a safe place to share their experiences. From these channels we gain valuable insights into how we can improve as an organization. The feedback we receive informs organizational planning and helps highlight where we can make the biggest impact by creating a more positive employee journey for all.

However, there are many other informal and formal channels where feedback is shared—mentoring is a great example of this. The benefits and learnings that are gained by both the mentor and mentee help support their individual career journeys and make meaningful change through the organization on a smaller scale.

How can other organizations adopt similar initiatives to improve their culture?

Even a great company culture can benefit from transparent conversation, and I encourage HR leaders to create a space for these conversations to be had within their organizations. By allowing employee feedback to inform organizational planning, company culture can excel. Giving employees the opportunity to share their thoughts and impact company culture is the future of the workplace and it is vital that organizations build listening channels to foster those conversations. 

However, massive cultural changes don’t happen overnight, so I encourage organizations to start small by organizing focus groups on things that matter most to your company, clients and employees. To begin, be clear with employees on your goals and how their feedback will inform company action planning. Create a safe space and ensure intentional inclusion of participants. Lastly, always circle back on feedback—either through initiatives or follow-up discussion to learn more.

The more an organization is willing to listen and engage in dialogue with employees, the more valuable the output of it becomes. By including employees and leaders in conversations that result in action, organizations can build a culture where professionals know their opinions matter.

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