The Communication Gap
At Hallmark Business Connections, we approach the concept of employee engagement from a holistic vantage point. We focus not simply on our clients’ business, but on employee recognition, wellness programs and the approach to customer engagement throughout the organization. From experience, we know the most engaged employees are those who are provided with the tools to care for themselves, their colleagues and their customers.
Among the industry, it’s well-known that many of our most successful, modern companies attribute their overwhelming success to a noted variable: enriched employees. Why? Because enriched employees are more likely to put customers first and less likely to leave their jobs. High employee engagement brings higher employee satisfaction and motivation, increasing business profitability and ROI, as was outlined in a podcast on productivity through employee enrichment.
How can any company capitalize on this variable? There are many things that contribute to an employee’s engagement, among them:
- Strategic communications
- Trust and confidence in leadership and direction of organization
- Having the opportunity to grow as a person in the organization
- Feeling their contributions are valued and appreciated
- Feeling the work they’re assigned is meaningful and purposeful
Number one, communication, is a driving force of success for any business, from the small entrepreneur to the global corporation with employees spread across the country. I would argue communication is the single most vital ingredient to any successful enrichment or recognition program.
Within my role as director of employee recognition, I often see a significant gap between company vision and how it is actually perceived by employees. This communication gap is the result of several factors, including a failure to communicate a clear vision of the future and establish trust in upper management. It is only exacerbated by the fast-paced and global environment within which most businesses operate. Modern businesses operate in an era of constantly changing technology, multiple communications vehicles and rapid decision-making. Combine this speed with the traditional communications issues, and you uncover the biggest driver of employee disconnect.
The communication breakdown most often occurs within middle management. In a recent Gallup study, managers account for nearly 70 percent of variance in employee engagement scores, making it more crucial now than ever for businesses to learn the value of communicating the vision, and fostering engagement by providing effective communication tools for managers. Associates often look to managers as their primary source of information. Since we often see a communications gap here, it’s imperative to ensure manages receive the appropriate information, training and tools to communicate effectively.
To ensure employees are aware of recognition plans and how they work, a company must have a strategic communications plan in place. While ongoing communications are essential, the right type is even more important as this enables participants to feel fully engaged, inspired and motivated to take action. Furthermore, this communication cannot be one sided. Channels must exist to allow messages to be transferred both to and from the employee. This lifts a company’s communication strategy from talking at their employees to communicating with them.
Ongoing communication is a critical ingredient to keeping team members informed and passionate about reaching both individual and company goals. Without efficient, strategic communication plans in place, employees are more likely to be disengaged and lack the connection to the company and their programs, harming performance, customer relationships and overall ROI.
The companies that have an engaged workforce all have one thing in common: they aren’t leaving anything to chance. They define and articulate the strategy and direction, and accurately communicate their commitments and initiatives. Through this clarity, employees are empowered to embody that direction within their interactions with customers. As employees are the first line of communication with customers, they are the ones that personify your vision. Like anything else, communications start at the top level. Successful executives and managers tackle communications with a purposeful approach to engaging front-line leaders to engage front-line employees.