Being Heard: The Value of “Face Time” at Work


We spend so much time at work, so we may as well enjoy it…

In the HR space, you hear the term again and again: “culture, culture, culture.”

As I progress in my career, I recognize the value of a healthy workplace culture, but it was not until I joined SHRM that I realize the importance of fostering a curious and bold culture. Only when employees feel heard and valued can they voice their useful insights and ideas.

The foundation of a strong culture is ongoing two-way conversations. Employees who know they are heard in their organization will also have the courage to ask the tough questions. There is a distinction between passive listening and truly heeding the concerns of your subordinates.

During these conversations, managers can explain the “why” behind strategic decisions made on behalf of the team, thereby establishing credibility, trust and transparency. I have found that the “This is the way it is going to be, end of story” mentality does not provide employees with the confidence of their employer’s direction.  

In my day-to-day work life, I have found that regular check-ins with team members encourage knowledge sharing, communicate priorities and keep everyone up-to-date weekly happenings. It can also be the time to discuss questions, make progress on current projects and level-set expectations on current tasks. Sitting down to meet as a team is also an opportunity to practice real inclusion, giving time and space to each team member’s contributions and benefiting from a range of diverse perspectives.

Today’s employees, especially Millennials like me, value face time with managers, and hope for ongoing feedback. These one-on-one conversations can help motivate engagement, generate fresh ideas and provide opportunities for constructive feedback.

As SHRM’s President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., has noted, “Across a lifetime, people spend almost 4,000 days at work—more than 13 years.” This remark during the one of the General Sessions at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition resonated with me. That is a significant amount of time spent interacting with coworkers and managers. Let’s not miss out on opportunities to build strong workplace cultures by collaborating and learning from each other.

Sarah Purcell (@SHRMSarah on Twitter)

Specialist, Social Engagement at SHRM