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Fair Work: Effective Voice

This blog series by Lizzy and Frankie introduces Fair Work. This refers to all aspects of working for your organisation, from creating a job spec and developing a positive organisational culture to the day-to-day experience of working and progressing in your organisation. In this blog we explain ‘effective voice’.

What is Effective Voice?

Effective voice is a key element of fair work and facilitates the other Fair Work dimensions. Effective voice is much more than just having a channel of communication available in your organisation. It requires a safe environment where dialogue and challenge are central to the organisational culture, are dealt with constructively, and where workers’ views are sought out, listened to and can make a difference.

Why is it important?

Effective voice channels improve information sharing and problem solving, encourage innovation, support cross-learning, and can resolve conflict. Effective voice through trade unions can lead to the development of effective HR policy in relation to pay, working time, holiday arrangements, training, health and safety and flexible working that delivers positive outcomes for workers and for employers.

While recognising that systems of collective bargaining differ widely internationally, there is evidence [i] that countries with higher rates of trade union membership and collective bargaining coverage experience high employment rates, strong productivity growth and rate well on international indices of competitiveness and innovation.

How can I implement Effective Voice within my organisation?

  • Trade union recognition and collective bargaining
  • Involvement and participation practices
  • Communication and consultation arrangements
  • Create & maintain processes that give scope to employee voice
  • Regular surveys to understand worker views
  • Formal and informal arrangements to allow dialogue, including one-to-ones between workers and management, appraisal/feedback processes, team/organisation meetings.
  • Have a clear route for resolving issues at both individual and collective levels, such as through a grievance or collective disputes procedure
  • The organisation promotes a strong culture of openness and transparency and encourages acceptance of different viewpoints.
  • Workers’ experiences are used to influence organisational policy and practice
  • Worker representation on boards is sought and welcomed.

What are MGS doing as employers to enable Effective Voice?

You may find these examples useful for thinking about effective voice within your organisation.

Staff Surveys
At MGS, our Resources team carry out quarterly staff surveys which give us an opportunity to ask our staff for feedback on various issues including wellbeing, workload and productivity, leadership and management and learning and development requirements.  The responses to these surveys are analysed and then play a key role in informing our approach & development.

Opportunities to Meet and Discuss

  • As part of our move to hybrid working, MGS holds regular ‘All Staff’ days which give everyone an opportunity to meet up and discuss any current topics.
  • Fortnightly ‘All Staff’ meetings keep everyone updated of ongoing projects or important information. Staff are given the opportunity to raise questions in relation to any topics during the meeting or submit these in advance.
  • Informal chats with a Manager whether that’s through Teams or in person;
  • Regularly scheduled team meetings are a part of working life at MGS with Senior Managers holding check in chats on a weekly or twice weekly basis.
  • An ‘All Staff’ Teams channel for communicating information, but there is also the opportunity to highlight more social connections through our MGS-ocial channel.

MGS also has well developed policies and procedures in place covering all aspects of the ‘employee experience’ including for example a grievance policy which clearly sets out how MGS will deal with any employee grievance whether formally or informally.  All policies and procedures are available forstaff to view and refer to as necessary.  These are reviewed regularly to ensure they comply with legislation and give clear guidance on all aspects of employment or wellbeing.

External Accreditation
MGS holds the Investors in People Gold award which means we are open to feedback about how we are performing and want to understand how people are feeling within our organisation.  This accreditation also allows us to regularly review workplace culture over time specifically in areas around employee engagement, communication, organisational culture and work practices.

Opportunity to influence new activities
All staff are encouraged to suggest ideas for new organisational work, whether through their team or directly.
Our behavioural competency framework supports and drives a culture which values effective voice, in particular through the competencies of Works Collaboratively; Respect, Inclusion and Integrity; and Effective Decision Making.  These are introduced to staff during the induction process and inform work practice throughout MGS.

What we would like to do

As an organisation, MGS is working on ensuring we have clear processes for submitting new ideas relating to future work or other suggestions relating to how the organisation operates. We are also aware that having a hybrid workforce means we need to work towards best practice for collaborative working, ensuring we find a way to include everyone and incorporate everyone’s opinions without physically being in the office at the same time.

Get in touch

If you would like to learn more about Effective Voice or Fair Work in general please see some great resources on our Fair Work Resources for Employers Page or if you have any questions pleas get in touch.

Frankie Bradley; 0131 550 4125

Markus Offer; 0131 550 4143

[i] Bryson, A and Forth, J (2015) ‘The UK’s Productivity Puzzle’

OECD (2018), ‘Good Jobs For All In A Changing World Of Work: The OECD Jobs Strategy’