Employee Communications Adds to the Bottom Line

Managers need to move employee communications off the “to do” list, where it stays too long, and into to the “done” column.(Note: This column first appeared on CFM’s website in October 2003. It remains an important message.)

Communicating effectively with employees always is high on the "to-do list" of managers. Too often that is exactly where it stays.

A recent [2003] Roper study finds a substantial gap in perceptions between employers and employees on how well management communicates internally. Fifty-five percent of employers give themselves an excellent rating, with only 35 percent of employees agreeing with them.

Management isn't unwilling to communicate with employees. But it tends to overestimate how well the organization communicates and underestimates the potential problems poor communication creates.

You can typically identify a weak communication program when there is a heavy reliance on a newsletter primarily consisting of birthdays, babies and bowling scores. Or worse yet, it is loaded with personnel policies, administrative directives or "executive speak" that has no meaning or relevance to most employees.

A simple solution is to approach internal communications in the same way companies promote themselves in the community. Knowing your audience, their views and culture is a great place to start. This provides a structure for the type of information wanted and needed by employees.

With this sense of purpose, companies now are ready to survey the tools available to connect with the rank and file. There are many to choose from – electronic and print communications, employee updates and letters. In this review, don't overlook the human element. Regular face-to-face contact between management and employees is extremely effective, as are informed managers and supervisors who can explain management decisions in a way that is understood and accepted.

Good internal communications should not be viewed as an expense; it is an investment. The more favorably employees rate employers as good communicators, the more likely it is a company enjoys better morale, more loyalty and even increased productivity – all of which goes to the bottom line of any business.