Monday, June 15, 2009

Do You Communicate With Your Employees?

It should come as no surprise that employees are twice as likely to work harder for a company that communicates well to them.

Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ conducted one of it's Ouch Point Surveys in March and concluded: "With layoffs and other cost-cutting measures still on the rise, it is in an employer’s best interest to effectively communicate necessary changes with their workforce."

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of owners, CEO's, Presidents and Managers who believe what they do and why they do it is "none of their employees' business." That is a recipe for trouble.

The more employees know about their organization and why most decisions are made, the more understanding and supportive they will be. In crisis after crisis, when our clients meet frequently with key audiences, including employees, they seem to get through the hard times a little easier and with more support, and recover from the crisis faster.

If employees are kept in the dark, they will imagine things are even worse than they are and they will assume their leadership doesn't trust them or care about them.

As a reporter, anchor and news manager for almost 35 years, I learned that most constituencies will surprise you and come to your aid if they know what the issues or problems are. I recall a school board in Bloomington, IN in the 60s was facing all kinds of challenges and meeting weekly in secret. They were getting hammered by taxpayers, parents, teachers and voters.

When they took a drastic step and opened their meetings to all of those groups, they discovered critics could be great sources of solutions and support. All they needed was to know what the challenges were.

The same is true in most companies and other organizations.

In the current economic environment, most organizations are facing a number of problems and the ORC Ouch Point survey found "44 percent of respondents say their company has taken some form of action in response to the current economic situation, such as downsizing or other types of cutbacks, in the last six months. Almost half of respondents gave their employers high marks for the way in which they communicated the organizational actions taken (49% evaluated extremely/very well on actions taken)."

The survey says meetings (19%) and email (17%)were the most effective communication tool while memos (7%)were least effective.

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