With increasing hype following The Great Resignation, now is the time to find out what your workers really want from you and your organization. Employees’ preferences may vary, but they are clear about one thing: Your people want to have a say, whether it is in day-to-day operations or corporate training. Employees want to feel as if their opinions hold weight.

With the right learning and development (L&D) practices, another employer’s “great resignation” could become your “great upgrade.” In fact, SafetyCulture’s new research in partnership with YouGov, training and being heard are key factors to retaining and attracting talent. So, use this time as a chance to upgrade your training initiatives and signal to your team that their voice is truly valued.

Let’s examine three powerful steps toward building a “speak up” culture that can encourage a safe and equitable workplace.

1. Make the reporting process simple and accessible for your team.

In most workplace scenarios, individuals struggle to make themselves heard if they feel they will be derided by management or not supported by their peers. One of the biggest reasons why employees do not speak up or report issues — even if they pose a clear safety risk — is because they believe management will not act on it. Not taking action often looks like leadership is downplaying the issue or ignoring it entirely. Bottom line: If your people do not trust you to take action, they will not bother to speak up.

A strong team has a high sense of connectivity and engagement, where team members can deliver the greatest performance through team work and, over time, inherently build trust with one another. But for this to translate into a “speak up” culture, there needs to be more than just a foundation of trust and connection: There must be a leader, at the top of the ladder, who is walking the walk and talking the talk. Once your team sees that you are actively listening to them by digitalizing reporting processes for their benefit and taking steps to address their reports, they will be more compelled to take action in respect of compliance, safety and legal policies.

2. Create a safe space where everyone is encouraged to speak up.

You should always strive for your workplace to be a safe space. But it requires more than lip service to achieve that. Research suggests that there is a relationship between fear of retaliation and under-reporting, meaning that front-line workers are far less likely to come forward about issues if they fear job loss as a result.

To truly foster a “speak up” culture, your people should not fear retaliation if they submit a report. Go out of your way to motivate your people to openly communicate when something is not working. Display posters with QR codes that allow people to quickly log issues that instantly notify the right people. Implementing this process, shows to your people that the company cares about their feedback.

Psychological safety is crucial to your team’s performance. By developing a safe space, team members will feel confident to be more open rather than fear criticism or rejection.

Remember, a safe space at work is a fluid environment — a space that constantly adapts to new changes. Whether it’s a new employee joining the business, a poor response to a report or something as simple as a team member moving on, these “factors” can suppress the chances for a “speak up” culture. So keep an eye on workplace changes and the impact they might have on your team being open and forthcoming.

  1. Develop a culture of continuous learning.

Training is the beating heart of deploying — and maintaining — a “speak up” culture in the workplace. So, embedding continuous learning into your organization is the best way to retain high standards of reporting and improve employees’ happiness as a result.

Follow the “three R’s” when it comes to delivering training: retrain, refresh, repeat. Training should be designed to encourage proactivity and feedback in the workplace. To achieve the desired outcomes, keep track on which learners are up-to-date with their learning, and assign refresher courses as needed to ensure critical information stays top of mind.

Microlearning platforms are a useful resource for learning leaders that can help you deliver impactful training programs. They allow you to hold training at regular intervals and make upskilling part of your workplace culture. With gamified lessons, rewards and challenges, it’s simple to engage your learners.

Moving Forward

Despite what media headlines might imply, The Great Resignation is an opportunity rather than a catastrophe. Give your employees a voice by creating a safe and nurturing work environment that welcomes open feedback. Implement a digital reporting system to make the process simple and accessible, and empower employees to speak up if something isn’t right.

The best L&D leaders are already taking steps to improve their training and workplace environment and to nurture a positive “speak up” culture. Unless you want to see your top talent flee for greener pastures, now is the time to adapt to this new norm.