Change Starts With Listening

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Whether it’s an issue about pay or safety, employee representatives are always ready to listen.

“We’re a voice for the employees,” said Valerah Hodges, chair of UT Chattanooga’s Employee Relations Committee. “They trust us, and so employees may come to us privately or as a group with an issue.”

Valerah Hodges

Representatives often find that administrators are willing listeners because they know that employee feedback is a key ingredient to a successful workplace.

“How can you grow and be a vital organization if you don’t get feedback from employees?” asked Jackie McClarin, a member of the UT Health Science Center’s Exempt Staff Council. “The ESC allows us to bring issues to administrators, and in turn, administrators can feel like they’re not operating in a vacuum.”

Ann Tallent, a member of the UT System Administration and Institute for Public Service Employee Relations Committee representing non-exempt staff, emphasized that employee groups serve as a constant channel of communication between employees and administrators. “It’s really the best method of communicating with the administration when there’s an issue or even to give feedback when a policy’s not working,” she said.

UTC Employee Relations Committee
UTC Employee Relations Committee

When employee representatives gather for meetings of the system-wide Employee Relations Advisory Board (ERAB), listening takes on a bigger scope. In this forum, campus and institute representatives share common concerns while being assured that UT System leadership is listening.

“Each campus has their own unique concerns, and during ERAB meetings, to hear the president talk about your campus issues and know the details—it means a lot,” McClarin said.

While all issues are considered and handled differently, representatives agree that a willingness to listen is the first step toward creating a better workplace.

Learn more about getting involved in employee representative groups on your campus or institute.

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