Fifty percent of employees say they are more productive and motivated when their bosses share information. In fact, 76 percent don’t trust bosses who fail to communicate. Obviously, internal communications are a big deal when it comes to employee engagement and satisfaction. Is there such a thing as too much communication?
With 24-hour access to news and social media, we have become a culture of instant and all-encompassing information. We are increasingly expecting to know it all, or at least thinking we deserve to. However, companies must sometimes make decisions about what information they believe to be appropriate for their employees and what could cause damage to morale, revenue, reputation, or retention.
This isn’t always easy. To tell or not to tell can be a dilemma. Disclose too much and you can have an internal crisis on your hands. Offer up too little and your employees may rebel, or at best grumble. The truth is, every situation requires different evaluation, but we can safely place certain issues into “Tell” and “Don’t Tell” buckets.
We offer up the top 4 things employees need to know and need not to know:
Corporate policies, mission, and strategy
Every employee should know what’s expected of them, both as part of the corporate body and as their job description dictates. Surprisingly, only 29 percent can correctly identify their company’s strategy, much less how their jobs contribute. Corporate policies, mission, and strategy should be easily accessible 24/7/365 and any modifications to them should be communicated frequently so there is never a question as to where the company stands. Employees should also understand exactly how their performance directly contributes to the corporate strategy. No employee should wonder if they matter or if their job is making a difference.
Corporate changes that will impact employees and/or their jobs
Few companies are static. Change happens, for better or for worse and employees should never be the last to know. When change does happen (not “if”), be sure to communicate frequently the details of exactly how those changes will impact them and the company for which they work. Custom-design messages that are highly relevant to their specific job so they don’t have to deduce the impact from a mass message. With every communication, imagine them repeating it to your best customers. This will help you design the messages honestly, yet in a positive light.
Salary and benefits information
Employees and their families live and die by their paychecks and benefits. Compensation is ranked at the top of considerations for job seekers. Whether the communication of these facts comes from HR, their department heads or their bosses makes no difference. What matters is that the information is accurate, timely, and personalized. If, for example, their health insurance policies are changing, the earlier you can notify them of the changes and how it will impact their care and costs, the better. Give them plenty of time to plan for the change and take necessary steps, such as sending enrollment deadline reminders.
Potential and active emergencies
In light of the recent Hurricane Harvey, we can all appreciate advance communication of what we are to do in case of an emergency. The news and local government may tell us what to do to protect ourselves and families, but it’s our companies who will tell us what to do when it comes to evacuations during office hours, returning to work, performing work offsite, etc. Companies must tailor these messages only to those directly impacted by the emergency, but they should be a lifeline for employees when they are at work, traveling or commuting. Be sure you have the right mass communications technology in place to reach them across all of the possible communication channels they may use in case access is limited. This includes phone, text, push notifications, message centers, intranet sites, and corporate apps.
Unconfirmed facts or events (a.k.a. rumors)
Rumors can begin from the outside or be spread internally. While some end up being factual, more often than not, they end up grossly different from the actual facts. Rumors can incite panic, destroy morale, and bring productivity to a screeching halt. Companies should never release corporate information until they have confirmed it to be factual, but they can address circulating rumors as being just that – rumors. Then, follow it up with a commitment to get the facts and communicate them ASAP.
Irrelevant facts or events
Employees only need to know what pertains to them, their jobs or their departments. News that is irrelevant to their job or their location can confuse employees, interrupt their productivity, and cause unneeded concern. If there’s an electrical outage in a manufacturing facility in Nevada, for instance, HR in Texas may not need to know minute-by-minute updates as much as those who work in that facility. Of course, if those power outages will impact the ability of employees at any location to perform their job, those should be included in the updates. Be sure your employee communication system is able to custom-segment your population so the right messages get to the right people at the right time.
Companies are often in the throes of negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, and the like. Until these deals are sealed and there is a consensus among all parties that the details can be released, this information should be considered confidential. As nice as it would be to believe your employees could keep this information to themselves, it’s highly likely that once the facts are released to them, the public will soon be told. Timing is everything so be sure you wait until all loose ends are tied up before you disclose the facts. Be mindful of which facts are okay to divulge and which are to remain confidential.
Competitive and Proprietary Information
Staying competitive is no easy task, especially in this Amazon world. Oftentimes, companies may have a “secret sauce” they must keep to themselves or risk losing their competitive advantage. Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, but even the best of them can come and go, taking with them proprietary facts a competitor would pay big bucks to know. If you don’t want your competitors to discover your secrets, be sure only those key stakeholders have your recipe.
Companies serve as a sort of government among its employees. There are leaders and there are their constituents. All are citizens who must follow the rule of law. If you are a business leader, be sure you keep your people informed with the information they can use to make decisions, have peace of mind, and understand the culture and values of their employers. AlertMedia makes it simple to segment your population and deliver targeted communications quickly across multiple channels to ensure no message is missed.
Employee engagement isn’t just about happy employees. It has a direct impact on the bottom line. Disengaged employees cost organizations up to $550B annually. The good news is 75 percent of the causes of employee turnover is preventable. Do your part and communicate the right messaging at the right time.