Improve communication to create an engaged and committed workforce

  21st July 2010      
 CIPD, Company News

A recent CIPD survey has found that fewer than 50% of respondents felt either “fully” or “fairly well” informed about what things happening within their companies. Additionally, there were found to be low levels of trust toward the directors and senior management of their organisations. It is essential that communications with staff is improved in order to create and sustain an engaged workforce, and as part of an HR and business strategy. There are tips that can be followed in order to achieve this and ensure vital two-way communication, rather than just top-down.

Introducing, or increasing awareness of an existing collective goal helps to create a shared sense of purpose amongst staff. This is an important starting point for strategically improving organisational communication, helping people understand and appreciate the difference they can make. Communication is a core skill that should be sought when recruiting leaders, and it is essential that leaders and line managers are given the necessary support and coaching. It can also be easy to assume that senior managers automatically recognise the need for effective communication. It has been found that often senior managers tend to heavily rely on their junior managers to convey key messages through the business.

Your approaches to communication and engagement inform each other, therefore engaging staff strongly assists in improving the levels of communication. Three main drivers of employee engagement have been identified by the CIPD. They are: having the opportunity to feed your views upwards; feeling well informed about what is happening in your organisation; and believing your manager is committed to the organisation.

Different channels of communication should be considered to increase staff engagement in various ways. Many organisations are starting to embrace new communication media; some employers have started using social media platforms to engage graduate recruits before they formally join the organisation. However, face-to-face communication is still valued highly by employees and should not be neglected. Organisations should ensure that managers develop the skills and confidence to hold meaningful two-way conversations on various, and sometimes difficult, topics.

Formally, HR or a specialist internal communications team could hold responsibility for communications within the organisation, but it is important to work collaboratively across departments. Sharing expertise from different disciplines helps create the most appropriate approach for the organisation. The recent CIPD report ‘Employer branding and total reward’ suggests that combined thinking ensures any communication about goal rewards reflect communications about the employer brand more generally.

Regularly measuring results of communication and engagement helps to understand the general effectiveness of internal communications as well as being able to compare the success of different methods and channels. It can be useful to segment your audience to see whether the intended message is reaching the right people.

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