In a recent report from HR Executive called “What Keeps HR Up At Night” HR staff was asked “What steps are you and your organization taking in the next 12 months to boost employee engagement and retention?” The answer to this question reported by 62.9% of those being surveyed, was to increase employee communication.
HR executives and managers seek not only to increase employee communication but also to improve it. In fact, effective or ineffective employee communications can impact the bottom line of an organization. In a recent Holmes Report, 400 corporations were surveyed over the period of a year and calculations were made to determine the effect employee communication can have on annual profit. What they found was there was an estimated $37 billion lost due to employee misunderstanding or error due to poor communication.
Your employee communication plan will also directly impact your culture. It can be challenging to develop a communication plan that will work for everyone in an organization. We put together a few ideas to help you with your employee communication strategy.
5 Steps to Establish Better Employee Communication
- Break down your goals & understand potential barriers- First you want to create general guidelines or standards to follow. Then you want to break those goals down to make them more specific based on the audience you’re trying to reach. Understand that depending on the industry, department or generation being represented, there will be differences in the types of communication that will need to take place. Also keep in mind, each manager will have a different set of challenges they face when it comes to communication. Be sure to outline potential barriers that may get in the way. One way to do this is to look at past communication issues and see if there are any trends that you can create potential solutions for. Another way is to put out a survey and to have each manager have individual conversations with their teams to get employee feedback on the current state of communication throughout the organization.
- Provide an environment where positive communication can be modeled & tracked- Using email as a primary channel of communication can be overwhelming. Email is great for providing individualized instruction or for communicating general information. But what email is missing is the opportunity for managers and their teams to display what positive cross-communication should look like in the organization. Also with email, it can be hard to keep track of what is actually taking place within the conversations within your organization. Using communication tools like Slack, project management software and a social recognition platform help to maintain accountability/deeper connections within teams. Using tools like these will make it easier for you to measure your organization’s communication culture.
- Offer training in interpersonal communication & healthy conflict resolution tactics- Not everyone is born knowing how to communicate in difficult situations. And because these types of courageous conversations need to take place at work, it’s great to teach managers and their teams what to do when these conflicts arise. If an employee feels safe to express their concerns with the person they are in disagreement with, there will be a greater likelihood they will be able to form a solution that can work for both parties. Also, when managers model transparency and empathy it can also help to create a safe place where feedback can be shared without any fear of judgment.
- Check in frequently to be sure consistent communication is happening- Many workplace problems arise from lack of communication. The fact is we get busy and then we fall into the mindset of assumption. As managers, it is our job to empower our employees to positively communicate with one another on a regular basis. Encourage your employees to communicate their needs and also emphasize the value in building up others. When you check in, be sure you’re modeling the type of conversation you want to see take place.
- Be willing to switch course & remain flexible- Much like many other HR initiatives, you can’t just set it and forget it when it comes to maintaining an effective employee communication plan. Along the way, you’ll be able to apply your learnings to make your original plan even better.
No matter your industry, positive healthy communication is at the core of everything we do at work. We wish you the best of luck in increasing and improving the employee communication within your organization. If you want to learn more about what it takes to create and maintain a positive workplace culture, we’d love to help.