Speak Easy: The Importance of Ongoing Employee Communications
Whatever your line of business, communicating with employees is essential to people management. How and when you talk with your staff has important implications for the health of your business and your employee-retention efforts.
It’s clear that good employee communications are crucial to managing the performance of both the business and your people. Maintaining open lines of communication will help you enormously in other ways, such as motivating your staff, building your team, and helping you to deliver exceptional customer service.
CONSIDER THE MANY WAYS IN WHICH GOOD EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS:
- Communication enables better customer service. Only informed staff will be able to convey accurate information to your customers
- Communication permits clarity of purpose. The critical question many employees ask is, “Why am I here?” Every organization encounters both planned and unplanned change. Your ability to navigate change successfully is linked directly to whether employees know your expectations and understand their connection to the company and its goals
- Communication enhances employee motivation and dedication to the company. Talking regularly with employees lets them know they are a valued part of your team. If you can demonstrate to your staff that you depend on their input, they will assume ownership of the company’s goals and eventual success
- Communication fosters teamwork. Staff from various departments may feel they have competing work objectives. Communicate a company-wide mandate so that all team members share the same ultimate goal. Then, encourage communication among staff to ensure that all energies focus on that goal
- Communication inspires productive staff input. Consider the wealth of information your staff may be privy to that you are not collecting currently. Any bit of feedback has the potential to make a huge difference in your bottom line
- Communication demonstrates integrity and honesty about you as a leader. Staff who sense that information is being kept from them will fill in the blanks with negative perceptions. In fact, not communicating with staff is a sure way to breed mistrust. You’ll never be able to prevent rumours altogether, but you can minimize them with an open information policy
It will serve you well to convey company information to staff on a regular basis, and to solicit their feedback in return. Communication forums can be regular or impromptu, structured or informal. The best methods for communicating will depend on the nature of your business.
TRY THESE IDEAS TO ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATION IN YOUR WORKPLACE:
- Hold monthly or quarterly staff meetings
- Publish internal newsletters
- Post notices on staffroom bulletin boards
- If available, send information via intranet or email; invite questions or comments from staff
- Use a “rumour board” to respond to anonymous staff queries; encourage staff to read and write in a “collective comments” binder;
find ways to invite suggestions by using town hall meetings, employee opinion surveys, or suggestion boxes. Then make sure you openly address the suggestions that are made.
- Hold staff pizza nights, barbecues or other social events that will prompt informal communications
- Maintain an overall open-door policy to the manager’s office
Remember, communication works both ways. It is not enough simply to tell your employees what you need from them. Managers must be available to listen to staff concerns and be prepared to act on the basis of what’s being said.
Communication is an ongoing managerial responsibility, not just something to save for individual performance reviews. Make sure your employees understand your interest in their input. Encourage them to be honest and forthcoming about improvements they think the company can make, and publicly reward staff members who make suggestions. With these techniques, you can expect a huge improvement in employee commitment and attitude.