Is employee communication really a 2-way street?

82619609 Your employees are an absolutely critical audience for your organization.  No brand promise gets delivered, no customer is delighted and no customer feedback flows back to you — if your employees are not inspired and feel like a vital part of the team.

So how do you make sure all of that happens?  Talk to them.

It's human nature to want to be in the know.  it eases worry and keeps you from making up stories in your head.  Typically most employees believe that their boss could do a better job in the communication department.

Ironically, if you ask the management team (boss, owner) they'll tell you they are huge communicators and the employees know everything they could possibly want to know.

So where lies the truth?

According to a recent survey I read about on MarketingCharts.com, nearly three-fourths (71%) of US communications and human resources professionals in a recent survey say are getting the right amount of information about the current state of their company during the recession, but many would like more opportunities to use social media and have face-to-face communications with company leaders. (all data according to a survey by Heyman Associates Executive Search.)

The survey, which was conducted to gauge the effectiveness of corporate communications in today’s tough economic climate amidst repeated company failures and layoffs, found that 85% of survey respondents say their CEO, among other managers, is communicating with them, though 65% would still like more informal, in-person communication.

CEOs Stepping Up

When asked who in their company is speaking with them about the current state of affairs, respondents overwhelmingly cited their CEO:

  • 85% said their CEO was speaking with them
  • 43% cited their department head
  • 35% cited their direct manager
  • 30% mentioned the CFO
  • 15% cited a human resources representative
  • 5% said no one communicated with them

Among those who say nobody in the company communicates information, some have found out information about their own company in the newspaper, while others tap the grapevine, which they acknowledge is not always reliable.

Need for In-Person Communication, Social Media

Though many respondents are already receiving a large number of electronic and mass communications within their company, the survey uncovered an important need for more in-person communications.

When asked how they would improve the way they receive information about their company, a majority of professionals responded that they would like increased, informal, face-to-face communication. Out of 452 responses:

  • 65% want increased informal in-person communication
  • 50% want increased formal in-person meetings
  • 31% want increased formal written materials

The responses also indicate a desire for more social media because of its interactive nature. Some respondents suggest that an increased mix of in-person communication and social media will create and repeat frequent and trustworthy messages, while others want the communications to better explain how any given situation affects them personally.

So…what do you think?  How does your company communicate with you?  or if you're the leader — how would you rate your information flow?

What's the most effective method of communicating company news, in your opinion?

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7 comments on “Is employee communication really a 2-way street?

  1. I’ve been in two types of companies: those who communicate and those who don’t. Guess which one ended up being more successful? It absolutely was the one with open communication between management, employees and consumers.

  2. There is a big difference between communication and engaging your employees. Communication is usually one way at best. Engaging means you are connecting with them, sharing, caring, understanding and a lot more. I agree with your stats, but there are so many more aspects that go with this.

    I actually started a blog this month about how to engage your audience in this new marketing 2.0 world.
    http://tinyurl.com/ccqo4n

    Chad Rothschild
    http://employeeandclientengagement.wordpress.com/

  3. Stuart,

    You’re not going to get an argument from me there. Was there a communication method that you think worked best?

    I’ve also worked at a company where they professed open communications and the President spoke to the staff on a regular basis. But we knew he was not particularly truthful as a person…and so in that case, it didn’t do any good at all.

    Drew

  4. Chad,

    Of course there’s more to it than a few stats and a 300 word post! That’s the point….to get people thinking and talking.

    Drew

  5. Amanda says:

    I’ve read a bit about this study. Since 65% of the audience wants informal face-to-face conversation, then why does it include mentions of social media? While social media *can* be personal, it’s still not face-to-face.

    In addition, I’m curious, if you want to talk JUST to your employees, why use social media (i.e.: Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that is, by its nature, public?

  6. Amanda,

    Good questions. Since I wasn’t a part of the research, I’ll take an educated guess.

    I assume the survey offered the respondents many choices, including face to face and social media. While most preferred face to face, social media is still a viable option. And…in many cases, workers aren’t always in the same place as their employer.

    I think if I read the survey correctly…they’re also saying that one of the benefits of social media is its interactive nature.

    In terms of the privacy issue, I suppose you could use most of the social media tools in a “private” mode as well.

    Excellent questions…thanks for sharing them.

    Drew

  7. Shannon says:

    Communication needs to be a 2 way street. Ideas can flow better, CEO’s and employees both get what they want out of their jobs.

    shannon

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