Managers that pay attention to their employees’ needs lower the risk of losing their jobs. Researchers from Penn State, MacEwan University, and the University of Central Florida worked together on a new study that looked at how managers’ active listening affected their employees’ sense of job security when their companies were in trouble.
Active Listening managers can help employees feel more in charge of their own careers and less worried about losing their jobs. In the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, the study was written up about it.
Job insecurity, which is the fear of being laid off, can be just as bad for workers’ health as being laid off. Worrying about layoffs can cause long-term stress, and many studies have shown that stress can cause sleep loss, bad eating, and higher blood pressure. In the workplace, this stress makes people less satisfied with their jobs, less likely to follow safety rules, and perform less well.
When people have long-term job uncertainty, their well-being gets worse and worse over time. Employees and employers both want to cut down on the amount of time that employees feel uncertain about their jobs.
Elizabeth M. King Early Career Professor Phillip Jolly and his collaborators did research in a large company where layoffs had been announced but not carried out. They looked at how employees felt about the layoffs but did not see them happen.
Listening managers in most businesses don’t usually have a say in whether layoffs happen or who gets laid off, Jolly said. “Unfortunately, when layoffs are near, managers tend to become more withdrawn because they don’t know as much about the future as their employees do. The good news is that there is a way for managers to help their employees be happy and healthy. They can be more attentive to their employees’ concerns.”
Attention, comprehension, and acceptance are the three main parts of active listening. People use body language to show that they are paying attention to a speaker. The listener also shows that they understand what the speaker is saying by repeating what the speaker has said. Listeners also show that they are willing to hear the speaker’s point of view and concerns. This is also true. Research shows that when people are more involved and understand each other, they form a stronger bond than when they just listen passively in a normal conversation.
Active listening helps people in two ways. The more active listening managers do, the more their workers feel like they are supported and valued by their company. When a person feels like their manager cares about them, they are more optimistic about their job.
When a manager listens actively, it gives the worker a safe place to talk about and think about their experiences and concerns. When a worker is given a safe place, he or she can often think of resources that can help them, both inside and outside of the company. It can help the worker feel more in control of their own situation if they know what resources they have.
A psychology professor at the University of Central Florida says that people want to believe that hard work will pay off. Layoffs show that things outside of a person’s control can have a bigger impact on their job than the quality of their work. A person who is paying attention can help them understand that they are still important and that they aren’t helpless when things are uncertain.
Insecurity can make people change how they think and feel about their jobs, which can make them change how they listen.
We think that when people’s jobs are at risk, they pay attention to even small changes in how their managers listen. Tiffany Kriz, an assistant professor of organisational behaviour, human resources management, and management at MacEwan University says this: “People always pay attention to what their managers do, but when there is a lot of uncertainty, they pay even more attention to what their managers do. A change in how you listen can send a strong message to your employees, and it can also help them think about the situation they’re in.”
Research on active listening came from the field of counselling psychology, and the researchers said that active listening can be useful when people are stressed.
“The active listening techniques described in this research can be used in families, non-profit groups, or anywhere groups are uncertain,” said Jolly, who led the study. “In every part of our lives, listening is a powerful tool that can help us do better. As we look forward to the world after a pandemic, we know that major industries like travel, hospitality, and retail will change and change again. There is a chance that Listening managers will learn how to help their employees when things aren’t going well.”