Many businesses use employee forums to generate ideas for improving business operations and performance as a whole.
How to establish an employee forum
Different approaches to staff forums work for different businesses. To establish an effective employee forum in your business you could:
- establish an employee board with rotating membership where ideas can be sounded
- set up an employee taskforce to look at potential solutions for a key business challenge or to streamline operations and processes
- make sure any initiatives seeking views or ideas from customers are mirrored within your business to give employees the chance to submit their ideas
If you create a staff forum try to remember the following key points.
Define the role and remit of the staff forum
Have a clear remit for the employee forum with terms of reference that are clearly understood across the business as a whole.
An effective way of creating terms of reference is to involve the forum members at the stage of defining them.
Create clear responsibilities within the staff forum
Set out and ensure there is agreement of key responsibilities for the employees in the forum when establishing it - for example:
- proactively seek views and feedback from employees in their area of the business
- identify where progress has been achieved and communicate this
- run employee focus groups to seek views and opinions
- present and report to managers on relevant feedback from their area of the business
- communicate with people in their area of the business about ideas or issues
Creating clear responsibilities shows you are keen to work with the staff forum and that the employees involved have important roles to fulfil.
Invite participants to the staff forum
Although the types of employee forum discussed here are informal bodies, try to have an open and transparent approach to recruiting members of staff. This will be important to the credibility and trust in the staff forum.
You may want to consider an evaluation or election process for the forum eg members of the staff forum could nominate a chairperson on a rotational basis for a certain period of time.
Communicate outputs from the staff forum
It is important to the credibility of the staff forum that you communicate outputs to the rest of the workforce and emphasise the difference it has made to the running of the business. You could outline how a business issue or problem was identified and how the staff forum has worked to provide a suitable solution.