Accelerate Decision-Making by Involving Employees

Dara Fontein

7 minutes

Organization leaders face countless decisions every single day. While executive team members have extensive experience and knowledge in many areas, it’s impossible for them to be in the work as much as their employees. Employees have deep insights into how organizations work, how they could work better, and who their customers are.

So, how can businesses tap into their employees’ wealth of knowledge? Through a dynamic employee involvement strategy. Continue reading to find out what employee involvement is, why it’s so important, what the difference between engagement and involvement is, and how to involve employees without bias.

What is Employee Involvement?

Employee involvement is more than just a staff member occasionally pitching in with an idea or two. Robert Bullock of business consulting firm Scontrino-Powell defines employee involvement as “The direct participation of staff to help an organization fulfill its mission and meet its objectives by applying their own ideas, expertise, and efforts towards solving problems and making decisions.”

Employee involvement ensures that, through a collaborative decision-making process, both the employees and the leadership team are responsible for the organization’s overall success. To achieve this, employee involvement is always done with a goal and purpose in mind. Employees who are willing to share their ideas and viewpoints must know why they are doing this and how it will impact the business.

With that in mind, the business must actively facilitate employee involvement. An organization can’t simply wait for their employees to come forward with their insights — they need to have a specific strategy and structure in place to encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas, as well as action any proposed and approved changes.

Why is Employee Involvement so Important?

There are numerous benefits to employee involvement in the decision-making process. From improved morale to business growth, here are a few reasons why employee involvement is so important to any organization.

Improved organizational decision-making

If you’ve ever asked for a friend or family member’s opinion when trying to decide between two options, you know how impactful multiple perspectives can be. The same rings true for professional organizations.

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With a recent McKinsey study finding that only 20 percent of employees think their organizations excel at decision-making, it’s important to include a diverse range of candidates in this process. When businesses can essentially crowdsource a decision from multiple sources through employee involvement, they’re more likely to make the right choice. With employee involvement, members across the business are able to provide their unique perspectives, opinions, and knowledge.

For example, a customer service representative will have insights on customers that someone in the creative department may not have, and a UX writer will know more about how audiences interact with the website than the business’ HR director.

Each member of an organization has something to learn and knowledge to share — something that makes the decision-making process much more successful.

Improved employee morale

Consider the last time somebody asked for your input on something. It probably felt pretty good, right? When organizations involve their employees in decision-making, the same principle is at play.

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Employee involvement in the decision-making process shows those across the organization that their opinion is valued and trusted. It helps workers feel less like cogs in a machine and more like experts and consultants in their respective areas of expertise. Employees can clearly see that they can make a difference, contribute to the organization, and are empowered to do so on a more regular basis.

When workers can feel the sense of ownership that comes with contributing to decision-making at a business, it’s natural that employee engagement and job satisfaction increases.

Increased productivity

With engaged employees comes increased productivity.

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A Gallup survey recently found the cost of disengaged employees to be between $450 billion and $550 billion USD due to lower productivity levels.

The same Gallup survey found that with the higher employee engagement levels that come along with employee involvement, workers increase their discretionary effort. In other words, workers are much more willing to work harder and go the extra mile for their company than those who aren’t as engaged.

Besides the boost in employee productivity, employee involvement can actually increase productivity in leaders. With decision-making taking up as much as 70% of a C-suite member’s time, delegating some of these decisions to others in the business can help free up some of those hours for more impactful work.

Increased revenue

Ineffective decision-making costs organizations around $250 million USD annually. With employee involvement and a more streamlined, effective decision-making process, businesses can cut down this number substantially and increase their bottom line.

Here, it is important to note the word “effective.” Employee involvement must be coupled with a clear structure and collective understanding of the process. As respondents to a McKinsey survey shared, there are many reasons for employee dissatisfaction when it comes to decision-making within an organization.

Issues such as unclear organizational roles, information overload, and a company culture that lacks empowerment can all undermine and negatively impact the decision-making process. However, when these potential issues are addressed and prevented, and there’s a business-wide commitment to actually actioning any decisions made through employee involvement, business success is much more likely.

In addition to saving time and resources, employee involvement in the decision-making process can boost revenue through increasing customer relationships. Employees such as your customer care team or events team are interacting with clients and customers every single day. They know what customers want, what their pain points are, and are able to recognize patterns when it comes to their behavior.

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All of these insights are incredibly valuable when it comes to making decisions that will impact customers. Happier customers naturally lead to larger and more lucrative contracts, more positive client sentiment, and more word-of-mouth recommendations that will help your business grow.

Employee Involvement vs. Engagement

When working to improve your business’ decision-making process, you’ll often come across the term “engagement” being used interchangeably with “involvement.” While similar, employee involvement and employee engagement are two separate things.
As defined by Forbes, employee engagement is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”
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As touched on above, engaged employees care about the work they’re doing and the organization, overall. They’re willing to put in more work and do that little bit extra because they actually care about the growth and success of the business.

In contrast to employee involvement, employee engagement is passive. While employee involvement includes actively encouraging workers to take part in organizational decision-making, engaged employees will naturally participate by their own initiative.

An involved employee is usually an engaged employee, but an engaged employee is not necessarily an involved employee. Essentially, employee engagement is the acceptance of the organization’s goals, values, and overall vision, while employee involvement is the active implementation of such goals.

Involving Employees without Bias

One of the challenges of collective decision-making is the presence of bias. When groups of employees are together and trying to make a decision, it’s easy for them to agree more with other employees they implicitly trust or have closer relationships with — even when these employees’ perspectives may not be the right solution for the problem at hand.

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The presence of bias can negatively impact the social relationships between members within the organization and decrease trust amongst employees, which in turn negatively impacts productivity and morale. Perhaps most importantly, bias can lead to time wasted on endless debates between participants and those involved in the decision-making process.

While it may seem counterintuitive, a recent McKinsey study found that there is a direct correlation between the quality of a decision and the speed at which it was made. Respondents who shared that decision-making in their organization was fast were 1.98 times more likely to say that these decisions were also of high quality. With ThoughtExchange, leaders and organizations are able to accelerate and streamline the decision-making process through unbiased employee involvement.

ThoughtExchange provides a platform where anonymous responses are collected and objectively voted on. Employees can present suggestions and solutions throughout the decision-making process and vote on their favorites without anyone knowing which answer comes from which team member. Here, the validity and quality of the ideas and insights are focused on, rather than who came up with them. Decisions are made solely based on their content and value, without any time wasted on office politics or fruitless debates.

Ensuring that employees are seen, heard, and trusted has never been more important. With ThoughtExchange’s collective decision-making capabilities, organizations can give their employees a voice on the issues that matter most to them.

Get in touch to see how ThoughtExchange can help you accelerate decision making with employee involvement.

About the Author

Dara Fontein

Dara is a copywriter and content creator born, raised, and currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s written for companies including Hootsuite, lululemon, Article, and ThoughtExchange. When not playing around with words, Dara can be found updating her cat's Instagram account and wandering the aisles of home decor stores.