What I told you that focusing your resources into making your employees happy would increase your profits? Would you invest part of your corporate budget on this effort? How important is it to connect the dots in today’s economic uncertainty?
Business dynamics have changed in the last few years: from fax and landline to social media platforms. This creates a different and more demanding client. The pressure is on you as they can go to a provider on the other side of the world if you fail to deliver on two of their basic requirements: increased quality and lower costs.
So how is this tied to our employees and our companies? Well, this global scenario has changed the way we communicate with each other internally. Before, companies propagated information to their employees by a “cascade” method that was flat and focused on one-way message delivery. They also worked exclusively with local offices or teams and did not collaborate with their global peers as it’s done today.
Employee diversity is another challenge we face. Interests are different, messages are culturally sensitive, personal needs and values might be strongly linked to religious practices, sense of humor is different. All of these factors transformed our information exchange model completely.
It´s common practice for us to work at night, telecommute or work from home. The typical 40-hour week is slowly coming to an end. Finally, let’s not forget the emotions that we must address as more and more workers shift into less-than-ideal working conditions or divert from the traditional office environment.
So what is next? What do employees want? What are their most pressing concerns? How do we make our most important asset happy? To begin, employees want to know that the job they do is valuable, that it’s appreciated, that it won’t go away. They also want to know how they fit into the big picture. There is a study (Arnot, 1987, “Effective Employee Communications”) that spells this out into two categories: “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM,) and “What’s in it for Us?” (WIIFU). It states the problem arises when companies only focus on WIIFU instead of both.
We must relate internal communications to the closest, reassuring environment we know: the family unit. Parents that inspire acceptance, helping their children become their best, not surprisingly, the children flourish. Employees exposed to an internal communication effort simulating this environment develop strong loyalty traits and increase their desire to participate. It makes them belong.
Where natural talents are encouraged by education, training and team work with cross-functional groups, where one on one conversations are productive, where obstacles and challenges in employee performance are met as opportunities to discover the basic needs to addressed, the company grows in value because it’s truly concerned for the person as a key player in the well-being of the group, increasing in quality and innovation of sales and services to keep up with client demands.
So how do we communicate? Newsletters, emails and announcements are important, but remain a one way street for communication. When we explore blogs, virtual forums, open Q&A, 1:1 meetings and team collaboration we foster interaction which is what we want.
There is a direct link between good internal communications and employee satisfaction. When we communicate our business initiatives and direction and listen to employee feedback on a broad spectrum of concerns, there´s dialogue with excellent results. Employees know their not only their opinions are heard, but that they are important, their needs for security, recognition and appreciation are met, they are coached in every way to become better at their jobs, they are trained to keep up with market trends. This means they will work for their personal benefit and for the well-being of the company.
Putting additional work on an employee is a normal practice in corporations where greater numbers are laid-off and peers must take on that displaced worker’s responsibilities. This practice overlooks the qualifications and current workload of the peer. It increases the fear factor if the work is not done with the same quality and timeliness. The extra work is given without a raise in pay or other incentives.
So here is where the Internal Communications (IC) facilitator should encourage management to know their direct reports very well and assess when this additional overload is not beneficial to the employee and to the company. This could save a lot of heartache at dealing with a disgruntled and unmotivated staff that is afraid to voice their opinion.
The value measure for internal communications is intangible, so linking results with a particular strategy/outcome is of utmost importance to internal communications as a business need. When we tie employee satisfaction to happier and better served clients that need more and more of our products/services we succeeded in understanding the connection. This is our final goal. A motivated, well cared for employee will have a sense of belonging that will encourage loyalty and drive passion into everything he/she does. This will no doubt show in productive client relations.
Happy employees=more retention=less turnover=better service=happy clients=more purchases=more money. It’s a no brainer.
- The Importance of An Effective Internal Communication (bastianmanalu.wordpress.com)
- Re-ignite your comms passion (melcrumblog.com)