As the prospect of leaving the EU slowly starts to sink in and British voters start to see the impact of the referendum outcome which many did not expect, electoral feedback has already highlighted some important learning points.
MPs have claimed that ‘Euroscepticism had become a “kind of proxy” for deep-seated problems with immigration, the NHS and other key issues’. Indeed, it is now clear that the motivations of some ‘Leave’ voters were based in long-standing frustration about the issues that were important to them - and disillusionment with successive governments’ failure to show they were listening and to deal with them effectively. Some individuals have said that they used the referendum to make a ‘protest vote’ or to ‘give the government a bloody nose’ rather than specifically intending to bring about the end of the UK’s EU membership. One result of the ‘Leave’ vote is a global uncertainty that was widely unexpected and which few had planned for.
One thing is certain: there were and still are widespread feelings amongst UK citizens that their needs were not being met and their views not taken seriously.
What can we learn from this in business?
Successful organisations understand the importance of listening to both employees and customers and acting to improve on factors that may be causing disengagement. Giving people the opportunity to express their views and feel that they have been heard - by talking to them, conducting opinion surveys, holding listening groups and focus groups – also provides an important source of business intelligence. We see time and again within our clients’ organisations that acting to remedy employees’ and customers’ concerns is critical to building engagement. An ongoing feedback and action loop is the key to preserving that engagement.
Keeping the channels open
Clearly, listening to what people have to say and enabling two-way communication between staff and managers and between you and your customers is ‘business as usual’. During times of change, such as the post-Brexit uncertainty, it becomes all the more important. With the way ahead for the UK unclear, financial indicators unstable and the leadership of the country in flux, people are trying to assess the impact of the country’s decision on their own lives, their employment and their purchasing decisions.
It doesn’t just end there. Social media has been sent into overdrive with tweets and videos portraying racial attacks and verbal abuse towards ‘perceived foreigners’. What we see happening on the streets may be echoed within our workplaces and towards our customers. Do we know for sure that it isn’t? It is essential that we refocus on zero tolerance of harassment, bullying and discrimination, both within society as a whole and at our workplaces. Making sure that the communication channels are open for employees to raise concerns therefore emerges as a priority right now for these reasons. It is also currently unclear whether individuals from other EU countries will have the right to remain in the UK. Do we know what they are thinking and how they are feeling?
How we can help you
We at Survey Solutions can support you with online, telephone and printed surveys, anonymous feedback tools and talking groups to help you understand the climate amongst your employees, your agency workers and your customers. We can also help you identify the strength of opinions, to focus your efforts in the areas that will make most difference to workers and customers. Talk to us about how we can help you to show people their views matter - and prevent the unexpected and negative consequences of disengagement.