The Board’s Oversight of Employee Voice | Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

Leadership & Culture

As organizational investors and stakeholders emphasize talent as a critical driver of organizational success, boards of directors have become increasingly interested in human capital issues. A survey by Russell Reynolds Associates (referenced in this article) of 259 global board directors found that HR was the top-rated business/functional area to which the board wants increased exposure. As Chief Human Resources Officers continue to discuss a range of workplace and workforce topics with the board, this article provides ideas on one of those topics: employee voice—the perspectives, interests, and needs of the workforce. The article is organized into three sections:1) the impact of employee voice and how board members use it as strategic input for decision-making, 2) key mechanisms for capturing employee voice and the frequency with which it is leveraged at the board level, and 3) how board oversight of employee voice can be structured. One point made is that“employee voice cannot be merely thought of as a collection of insights and feedback. Organizations need to understand how employee experience and priorities reflect the company’s culture and fit into talent management strategies, policies, and business performance.” A few questions the board asks about employee voice are: What resources are devoted to collecting and analyzing relevant employee voice and employee experience data? What are the top priorities we are hearing from all employees? What are issues of importance from specific employee populations? How can management be held accountable for improving the employee experience? HR leaders can help the board integrate employee voice into their oversight practices and business decisions by answering these and other questions.