Cartoon of board directors sitting in the canteen listening to the employee voice

As most people are aware by now, the new UK Code of Corporate Governance defines an effective board as one which (among a few other things) is serious about listening to the views of employees.  It is also very clear that far more than lip-service and good intentions are required – and the expectation is that board will consider “the employee voice" in their decision-making.  The Code asks boards to choose from one of three methods for gathering views: a director appointed from the workforce, a formal workforce advisory panel, or a designated non-executive director (NED).

Boards can choose another method, providing it delivers “meaningful, regular dialogue with the workforce and is explained effectively”.

So far, our observations tell us the most popular choice is for boards to designate a NED.  It can be implemented fast and reported clearly.  Plus, when the Board can seem a little remote to a lot of the workforce, it has the added advantage of making another NED beside the Chair more visible to staff.  But that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing.  Here we take a look at things to bear in mind when it comes to making the most of the “workforce NED”.