What are employees really telling us about how we communicate with them?
Over the last ten years we’ve helped lots of organisations understand how effectively they’re connecting with their people.
Through these internal communications reviews with clients from various sectors we’ve seen very consistent feedback themes from employees. We thought we’d share these findings and also ask your opinion on whether you think employees in your organisation feel the same.
Everyone who participates in our quick survey will receive a copy of the summarised overall report (no organisations or participants will be listed). See later in the blog on how you can take part.
From surveying and speaking to thousands of employees during the last ten years here’s what we’ve found.
Overall effectiveness of communications
The average score in all our surveys for the effectiveness of communications within their organisation has been 6 out of 10 (where 10 is excellent). Of course we are often called in to do our reviews because the organisation knows they need some help but aren’t sure how to go about it, but even taking that into account this result shows that more often than not, the message from employees is ‘room for improvement’.
Visible business leadership team who invest time in communication
Approx. 51% agreed when asked if their Executive team were visible and approx.85% said that they wanted to hear about their business’ performance, strategy and change direct from their CEO and Exec leadership teams on a regular basis. Here’s a flavour of some of the comments:
- “We need to see who’s steadying the ship. I want to know what the people at the top think – not the bland corporate stuff.”
- “All the information in the world via intranet and email is no substitute for seeing and hearing from the Exec team.”
- “We want to know the facts and be involved in how we can drive this business forward.”
- “The leadership team are not seen to be connected to the front-line which has led to a lack of trust – this can only be repaired through regular face to face interaction.”
What’s the story; consistent key messages about the business
Approx. 70% of employees agreed they understand their organisation’s vision and strategy, and approx. 75% agreed that it’s very important or important to hear about their company’s vision, strategy and direction in a way that they can relate to. Although the scores to this question are generally quite high for understanding, the comments often show a different story about how connected and engaged they feel;
- “We need a clear picture of where the company is heading. We’ve goals and priorities but what are they leading to?”
- “We understand what our company is trying to achieve overall, but can’t engage with what it means for me and how can I contribute.”
- “There’s a big disconnect between the overall business transformation programme and local objectives and priorities.”
- “It feels like each dept. has its own strategy, but we don’t talk about ourselves as one company.”
- “I want to feel proud of the company I work for but don’t really understand what we’re trying to achieve overall.”
Effective change communications
The lack of a consistent and involving approach to communicating change is something we see very regularly with only 53% agreeing that change was communicated effectively in their organisation. However nearly 88% of employees told us that hearing about planned changes relating to them was very important and they wanted to hear about changes impacting on them face to face so they had a chance to ask questions and give feedback.
- “We need more regular, open and honest communication on the things that matter to us e.g. and impact on us e.g. changes in HR policy.”
- “Greater consistency and at the same time when communicating change. More honest communication and not shying away from difficult messages”
- “Talk to people face to face about changes as they affect them, and as early as possible. Don’t over-use the intranet.”
Local leaders communicating regularly and effectively
Over 82% of the people we surveyed or talked to said that two-way communication with their line manager about team issues and plans was very important, illustrating that how effectively leaders engage their teams is vital. However on average only 60% of employees said they had a regular team meeting at least monthly and comments have showed that the communication capability of leaders is very mixed.
Employees have a voice to share ideas, tell stories, give feedback and discuss issues
With increasing use and desire for social media and interactive agile two-way communications within businesses all news is travelling much faster and it is now easier than ever for people in organisations to tell their own stories. However when asking employees how easy and effectively they can share stories, ideas and feedback the picture has been very mixed with survey scores ranging from 43-87% agreement.
We want conversations which are real, adult to adult and through a channel relevant to us
These comments are typical of employee feedback on this issue:
- “Business update comms are appreciated but they need to be regular and made relevant to front line employees.”
- “There’s too much focus on corporate messages – there needs to be a balance by including real life stories from around the business.”
- “Comms need to be timely, honest and real with less ‘mom & apple pie’ approach and more relevant to me.”
- “Give employees the ability to self-select their news feed by location and business area.”
- “Use more video and social media – make comms interesting, creative and two-way.”
In all of the organisations where we have reviewed communications, intranets and more recently social media have been seen as key communications channels. However over 75% said that their intranet had poor search facilities, access wasn’t easy and the content was corporate and sometimes out of date, demonstrating that the lack of investment in intranet and social capability is a big issue.
It would be great to get some views from internal comms pros on these key themes – why not take a few minutes to complete our simple survey and share your views on these topics. Everyone who participates will receive a copy of the report (no organisations or participants will be identified / listed). We’ll publish the results in our next blog.