Employee communications

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Employee Communications Best Practices: If You Build It, They Will Stay

15 November 2018
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There are a tremendous number of words and phrases being used in today’s workplace to enhance communications best practices. Some have become very familiar: corporate culture, change management, employee communication, business process management, and talent onboarding, to name a few. Corporate culture, in its broadest sense, is an organization’s collective beliefs and practices, which affect its interactions among employees and customers alike. There’s a phrase, “best practices,” that is used in business to define the most effective method to deal with an issue. Some companies become infected with what could be termed “worst practices.”

A potentially crippling corporate disease is poor internal and employee communications. Employee engagement is a cornerstone of a thriving company. Five companies with excellent employee engagement are Southwest Airlines, Dreamworks, Full Contact, Screwfix and Legal Monkeys. Five companies with terrible records for employee engagement are Sears, World Fuel Services, David Weekly Homes, Berkshire Hathaway and Gilead.

Not the Good, Just the Bad and Ugly

Are there specific signs that point to the bad and the ugly in a company’s communications or lack thereof? Absolutely. In a blog for Zinc.It, Kristen Wells cites 6 examples of the effects of bad communications within a company. They are:

  • Increased employee turnover
  • Poor customer service
  • A lower shareholder return
  • Lower employee productivity. Great employee productivity means dazzling services or products. Poor productivity means mediocre services at best, and terrible services and products at worst.
  • A greater incidence of injury. Health and safety issues are very big in some job sectors, but even in the industries with little chance of work-related injuries, if a company doesn’t make sure that employee health and safety is a priority, those employees will believe that the company has no concern for their wellbeing.
  • Increased absenteeism. If employees are well-informed, absenteeism is low. If they are not in the communications loop, they won’t feel interested or excited about work, so calling in sick becomes a habit.

What Not to Do to Create Communication Best Practices

In an article for Inc. by Michael Schneider, he shares information from the global PR giant Holmes. They publish a variety of reports on the world of business and often focus on communication best practices. They noted that poor employee communication now costs companies $37 billion a year in reduced productivity and client relations. That’s $37 billion, which makes poor communications a major stumbling block for a company’s success. Schneider offers a remedy, which has only two components. He observes that some people – including upper management – are introverts, while others are extroverts. In terms of communication, they are almost polar opposites. His suggestions? There are two. They can be implemented individually, or from the vantage point of a Human Resources department, implemented company-wide. What are these two factors, and how do they work?

I Versus E, Except After C for Calamity

The $37 billion in lost revenue isn’t due to outright sabotage on the part of the employees. In fact, the money lost is often a result of miscommunication.

To take a good, hard look at employee communications issues, HR needs to figure out if someone is an introvert or an extrovert. Why? The two have very different work styles, with different underlying influences and needs. One example of poor communication is the potential clash between extroverts and introverts. It might seem that such a simple behavioral difference is too simple. But the source of corporate difficulties are often right under our noses.

So how are introverts and extroverts different? Michael Schneider gives some general insights. Introverts generally prefer working on their own, are ill at ease in large group meetings, and receive and process information best when it’s presented more formally and with little to no fluff, such as emails. Extroverts, on the other hand, like more informal methods of communication. They can range from just popping by a co-worker’s space to chatting with a boss or co-worker over coffee.

Determining what an employee is doesn’t have to be a completely subjective assessment. There’s a software tool called Predictive Index that provides roadmaps for examining an employee’s drives, motivations and actions. One 6-minute-long “highway” is the PI Behavioral Assessment. There’s no right or wrong answers. The only important factor is that the person answers the questions honestly. According to PI, there are four factors that are in play in the workplace. They are:

  • Dominance
  • Extraversion
  • Patience
  • Formality

As PI’s assessments have been scientifically validated, they are an excellent tool for HR pros to use.

Connect the Unconnected

Connecting the unconnected is the core principle needed to impel HR to do an unflinching assessment of an organization. If the issue is poor internal communications, there are a number of available options. If you’re an introvert, dive into reports, facts and figures. If you’re an extrovert, muse over the many options with a co-worker over coffee. A field of dreams can be built, and once it is, the employees will stay put.

Joetta L. Wagner

Joetta L. Wagner is a researcher, writer and editor extraordinaire with over 20 years' experience. She absorbs information like a sponge absorbs water, and has been known to dazzle cocktail party patrons with an endless array of collected factoids. Her ruthlessness as an editor is an acquired skill.

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