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Effective Employee Communications — A Five-Part Series

BCSI’s Greg Rosenberg has more than 30 years of experience developing effective, award-winning employee communications. Read his five-part series below outlining best practices in employee communications.

#1: You’ve Got the Power!

Business is good, but it could be better, right?
Economic uncertainty. Downsizing. Restructuring. Acquisition. A shrinking middle class. Employees everywhere, especially new hires, are nervous. They’ve lost their sense of employer trust and are highly susceptible to the negative messaging that occurs every day in the news, and possibly in your company. This kind of insipid negativity can result in loss of overall productivity, jeopardizing your company and your bottom line.

What if… you had the power to lower your company’s employee turnover rates, increase your organization’s market value and provide higher total return to investors? Wouldn’t you want to know how to harness that power and energize your workforce?

You HAVE that power
Intrigued? Imagine the possibilities. That power lies in the implementation of a strategic Employee Communication program, which can provide a number of measurable, bottom-line results:

  • Enhanced productivity
  • Higher employee morale and retention
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Improved customer service
  • Increased sales
  • Helping your entire organization understand the “big picture” and their critical role in achieving corporate results

#2: Reversing Unfavorable Vibes through Communication

What can you do to reverse unfavorable vibes in your organization?
In a word: communication. With management’s full support, access to information has been proven to be a positive influence on workforces throughout the world. An educated employee is a valuable employee. Providing your employees with consistent, sustained and honest communication is the single-most powerful way to engage employees and increase their level of trust, participation and sense of loyalty to you and your business.

How can something as simple as communication be such a positive influence on your employees? Studies show that solid, consistent, management-supported strategic communications can and DO:

  • Model positive behaviors
  • Recognize and celebrate individual and team accomplishments
  • Open channels for honest dialogue
  • Provide a platform for key messages
  • Project a receptive, open image (management cares about your ideas)

Employees become more connected to the business and understand how their actions relate to it and support it. New hires connect faster and more positively, and people take ownership of problems, changes and business challenges.

#3: Effective Communication Drives Business Performance

Why can you expect positive gains from a solid, strategic communication plan?
The fact is, communication drives business performance. A management-supported and effective employee communication program engages the reader—managers, employees and customers—by encouraging feedback and participation in the business process. Informed employees can better deal directly with strategic issues of change, new technologies and ongoing improvements that affect their company and their lives. This feeling of empowerment and “ownership” creates behavioral changes throughout the business structure, from managers to employees to customers.

I used the term “effective communications.” But, what makes an employee communication vehicle effective? It is one that helps employees understand the business—the nuts and bolts. “What makes us tick?” It is one that provides financial information and objectives. “What are our goals and objectives?” “What do we have to do to achieve our goals?” “How close are we to achieving our goals?” Effective communications highlight leadership demonstrated by management during change and growth. It throws bouquets as well as brick bats—in a productive, positive and polished way—because it is believable.

An effective employee communication vehicle:

  • Aligns employee action to customer needs
  • Educates about culture and values
  • Explains and promotes new programs and policies
  • Integrates new hires quickly
  • Provides information on value of total rewards programs (pay, bonuses, profit sharing, benefits)

#4: How to Build an Effective Employee Communications Strategy

What is the key to building a successful employee communications program?
The key is to build awareness. It starts with a solid foundation that builds to a strategic level and ends with behavioral changes. Wherever possible, it should be a two-way process between employees and management.

Getting management buy-in and committing the necessary resources to an effective employee communications program is critical. If management is involved, the program has a much better chance—the only chance—for success. Once they have established and approved the budget, the formal process of setting objectives and metrics begins.

Throughout the program, employee participation and feedback should be encouraged. Part of a successful program should also integrate total rewards, from discussions of pay for performance, benefits, contests, profit/gain sharing to any additional information that engages the workforce. As in any sound communication program, technology should be leveraged wherever feasible.

#5: What to Communicate?

Everything!
You’re sold on employee communications. Management is on board. Budgets, objectives and metrics are set. You have a comprehensive communications strategy and everyone’s excited. But, what exactly are your employee communications going to be? What’s the format? What are my choices? What channel of distribution makes sense for your budget and your business?

The best answer is: integrate as many of the following as possible in your communications strategy package:

  • Print publications
  • Intranet/Extranet
  • Posters/bulletin boards
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Voicemail
  • Video
  • Pay check notices
  • Manager meetings
  • Town hall meetings
  • Focus groups, surveys and suggestion boxes

Once you’ve determined what vehicle(s) you will use, commit to releasing your employee communications consistently and regularly.

What can we write about?
Now that you’re ready to roll out your first employee communications, panic might strike. “What are we going to write about?” Relax. There’s a wealth of valuable topics and information you may consistently include for regular publication:

  • Performance (financials)
  • Compensation and benefits issues
  • New products/services
  • Market trends and how you’re involved
  • Successes and failures (lessons)
  • Competition
  • New directions/structures
  • Safety/loss prevention issues

Whatever employee communications features you choose, there are some critical elements that should be part of your strategy and your communications. First and foremost, communications should be honest and believable. If the information seems incomplete, patronizing or doesn’t ring true, your employees will know and you’ll lose their respect.

Built into your communications strategy should be a plan for publication and distribution frequency of your communications. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? That will depend on your budget, your resources and manpower you are willing to commit to as much as anything else. The important thing is to maintain a consistent program with full endorsement and participation of management. Getting and keeping the attention of your employees with communications of high-perceived value will be rewarded by contributing favorably to your bottom line.

How to Get Started with an Effective Employee Communications Program

Read our five-part series and download our 17-page booklet, Employee Communications Overview, by CLICKING HERE.

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