How Communication Can Improve Employee Engagement

Engaged employeesAn engaged workforce is a productive workforce, but getting all of your people on the same page requires effort. Here’s a short clip from a recent Towers Watson Global Workforce Study titled Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Global Market.

Retaining employees has more to do with the quality of the work experience overall. While some elements — like pay — affect both attraction and retention, the latter depends far more on the quality of employees’ relationship with their managers, their trust in senior leadership and their ability to manage stress on the job.

Today we’re going to look at communication and how you can leverage that to overcome some of these obstacles mentioned in the study. We’re aware influencing employee engagement isn’t a quick fix; however, the best day to start that process is today.

Communication 101

We’re going to share something simple, yet incredibly powerful. Ready? Here we go:

You need to talk to your people.

That’s it. Really. Employees need to know how the organization is doing. They need to know how they fit into the big picture. They need to know how their efforts influence the overall outcome in terms of business results.

Just having those conversations with your people will produce some amazing results. One of the issues we’ve seen time and time again is that a surprising number of managers will bend over backwards to avoid having to actually talk with their staff. It amazes us, but it’s true.

Building Deep Connections

Deutsche Bank’s co-chief executive, Anshu Jain, recently provided a great example of how executives can connect with internal and external stakeholders through effective communication (and language learning). While mainly an English speaker, Jain gave a two-page speech in German to kick off the company’s annual meeting.

However, does Jain’s effort to communicate with employees and investors really matter in the big picture? A recent study from Forbes Insights sheds some light on this matter.

The study showed one of the most significant consequences of language barriers is that a whopping 24% of executives say workers don’t have the necessary respect for managers and executives. Compare that with the story of Deutsche Bank’s leadership and it’s easy to see the impact to credibility when an executive takes the time and effort to learn the native language of the staff.

A Closing Thought on Communication

There was a book published several years ago titled The Pursuit of Something Better, and in it the author talks about the CEO of US Cellular having regular “talks” where employees could hear him discussing the key issues for the business, what his expectations were for the staff, etc. That direct line of communication did more to engage the workforce than all the emails, slogans, and ad campaigns anyone could ever ask for.

A culture of open and honest communication needs to start at the top. Only then can you foster employee engagement for years to come.

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