As a human resources consultant, I have conducted many employee surveys over the years to ascertain what employees like about their workplaces and what they think needs to be changed. In many cases, one of the key recommendations from employees to make the workplace better is “provide better communication.”
What do employees want to know about? They want to know before a change occurs that it is coming. They want to know why the change is happening. And most of all, they want to know how it will affect them. If you can get ahead of your communications efforts by providing answers to these questions, your employees will be less stressed, more productive, and your change efforts will be more successful.
According to A Manager’s Guide to Communicating with Employees, “from a communications perspective, employees feel appreciated and valued when:
- they are the first to hear important news
- they are regularly consulted
- they are listened to
- their suggestions are acted upon.”
Some of the best ways I have found to communicate with employees are as follows:
- Send mass emails for communicating information that is timely such as an office closing due to bad weather.
- Conduct regular staff meetings to discuss department news, delegate work, and share information from senior management.
- Conduct regular Town Hall meetings, hosted by senior leaders, to provide high-level information about upcoming events or give status updates. Anticipate and welcome questions from your audience.
- Encourage employees to let you know what’s not working and offer their suggestions for improvement. Create a culture where open communication – the good, the bad and the ugly – is sanctioned.
- Provide a suggestion box and reward good ideas. Let employees know that suggestions need to be positive, respectful of others, and doable. For example, “Fire my manager” is not an appropriate use of a suggestion box.
- Walk around the office and be available for spontaneous conversations.
- Meet regularly with employees, one on one, to discuss their performance.
- Conduct fun teambuilding exercises and meeting ice-breakers for employees to get to know one another.
Finally, to be a good communicator, make sure that you have been heard. Ask questions to learn if your message has gotten through to your audience. As George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
I am curious … what are your best ideas for effective workplace communication?