Why Employees Don’t Speak Up

Last updated Jun 22, 2021

Management may not know, but the topic on speaking up at work has been positively correlated to the success of a business mainly because it affects everything from employee morale to innovation.

Here are some reasons why employees are hesitant to speak up their mind at work:

  • They think management doesn’t want or need their ideas

In a research conducted by Fast Company in collaboration with the University of North Colorado Social Research Lab, 41% of survey respondents said leadership doesn’t value innovation and 67% said leadership operates on the notion that “this is how we’ve always done it.”

Employees wouldn’t bother offering their ideas if they think the leaders or the management don’t want it. They might be neglecting their best thinkers – instead of fanning the flames to their ideas, they’re finding else by starting a side gig or getting proficient at their hobby and planning their next move.


  • They are never asked

Customer service enhancement and front line employee feedback is vital for success as they are the ones who has constant communication towards their market.

Although the business might have an open-door policy or being able to frequently check in on the employees, it is still not enough for them to feel that they are genuinely being invited to contribute to the business. Asking alone is not enough, there is also a need to be interested in what is being asking about.


  • They do not have the confidence to share

Managers often tell their employees to keep their heads down and just continue doing their work – phrases such as “it’s not your job to think about that,” or “I didn’t hire you to fix our company,” are sometimes being said therefore giving the idea that their insights doesn’t matter or that what they think about is not important for the growth of the company.

There are several factors as to why employees lose the confidence to share their ideas; it can range from toxic management, to simply having insecurities they bring with them from home. Management needs to be able to understand their employees and think of a way to eliminate these fears to encourage them to contribute ideas that would be great for their business.


With these factors, here are some ways on how management can encourage employees to speak up at work:

  • Aside from constantly asking for feedback, management can also encourage their employees to share their ideas by providing a way wherein all suggestions come as an anonymous tip – this can range from a drop box to a random sent survey to the team without having the need to provide their names. And these suggestions can be discussed weekly or monthly, as deemed necessary, to continue uplifting the values of the business.


  • Management can hold casual coffee meeting sessions to encourage their employees to be more comfortable in sharing their ideas or any questions they have in mind that could help improve the business.


  • Leadership or management team can block off a few minutes or hours daily wherein they would just be open to a short discussion with their employee.


Although we have laid out the possible reasons and a few suggestions to keep it all balanced, best to keep in mind that problems and solutions still vary per business.



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Kerr, M. (2016, April). What Stops Employees From Speaking Up…and What Helps Employees Speak Up. https://mikekerr.com/what-stops-employees-from-speaking-up-and-what-help-employees-speak-up/

Hurt, K. & Dye, D. (2020, July 13). The main reasons employees don’t speak their mind at work. https://www.fastcompany.com/90526638/the-main-reasons-employees-dont-speak-their-mind-at-work

By: Curran Daly + Associates


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