The 2021 State of Employee Communications was presented this week at an HR.com conference on employee engagement and communications. It shines a light on important updates in what is happening with internal corporate communications and insights into what leading organizations have done to pivot to accommodate the changes in the work environment.
There have also been several (virtual) roundtable forums surrounding best practices in employee communications.
The primary topics have centered around engagement, performance, and whether work from home should continue or if it should morph to hybrid work arrangements, and/or whether returning to the to pre-2020 in-office work arrangement is a realistic option. These topics stressed the importance of listening to employees and that one solution may not work for everyone at the company.
For those workers who must be on a job site to provide a service to a customer in retail or hospitality services, healthcare providers, or producing a tangible product on the factory floor, there is and should be conversations about employee safety, security and options for flexibility in the changing work dynamic as well. Child care options have changed, schooling options continue to change and there is a recognition again that not everyone has been affected to the same proportion, and here too, there is probably not a one-solution-fits-all. Perhaps never before 2020 was workplace flexibility and workplace safety discussed or addressed with clear, and meaningful communications according to roundtables. Those organizations that are not emerging in a positive light did not or have not embraced or excelled at employee communications.
The major findings of the 2021 report include that employee communications are extremely important, as is the effectiveness of those communications. In fact, employee engagement is strongly associated with good communications. The results show that about only one-third of the HR professionals surveyed say their managers keep their direct reports informed about organizational matters to a high or very high degree.
80% of respondents agree or strongly agree that employee communication has a positive impact on the employee experience and level of engagement. Nearly as many agree it has a positive impact on employee performance and the employer brand. With all of those findings focused on the employer communications to the employees, the other side of the communications equation focuses on the employees’ ability to communicate with the organization.
The real eye-opener is that about one-quarter of organizations report that employees feel the organization does not really listen to them. This by itself should be enough for any level manager, but especially the ‘C-suite’ to stand up and take notice. It speaks directly to their employee engagement. Being heard/listened to conveys that thoughts and feelings matter. It also increases trust between the employee, their manager and the organization.
Knowing that effective communication means a two-way model of speaking and listening – this statistic becomes paramount when a company wants to improve employee performance, engagement and retention. So how do you improve communications and make them impactful?
First and foremost, you must have a way to measure them before you can set a gauge for improvement. The most commonly used metric, according to the HR.com study, is the percent of employees that engage with the message. Other gauges included knowing retention and turnover rates, impacts on performance, surveys and the actual number of employees reached and employee behavior.
Having more frequent and informal performance conversations is a practice that continues to expand among leading organizations. Managers checking in with employees regardless of their place of work became increasingly important in the last twelve months. Regular conversations about just work and listening to employees are key to improving communications and engagement.
LightWork Software offers several solutions to provide leading organizations ways to improve their employee communications and engagement. LightWork Performance Management includes Analytics. Analytics provides HR with a business intelligence tool to make strategic people decisions. It offers a dashboard of information at your fingertips, which can facilitate better two-way communications through your organization. To learn more about LightWork Analytics and Performance Management, click here. If your performance solution does come with analytics, reach out to LightWork for a free assessment of what analytics can do to improve your organization’s communications and performance.