Quality dialog with employees: Communications strategies for a productive workplace

Effective communication is a vital aspect of the employer-employee relationship regardless of industry and geography, says Renay Gontis, communications coordinator at JRG Advisors.

“The opportunity for quality dialogue demonstrates to employees that they are valued by the company. Conversely, a lack of value placed on communication can make them feel underappreciated, fostering discontentment and low morale,” Gontis says.

Smart Business spoke with Gontis about how to utilize the many channels for communication to supply employees with timely and accurate company news and information.

What tools can be used to communicate?

In today’s technological environment, employers have a variety of communication tools. And the majority of these tools are free. Consider the options available and how to best interface these tools with your current communication style. Emails, videos, blogs, newsletters and bulletin boards can all streamline the process and make it easier to communicate more frequently and effectively. Of course, face-to-face communication should remain an integral part of the communication process.

When should you communicate with your employees?

A formalized communication campaign and schedule will vary by business and company structure.

Items such as holiday schedules, recurring meetings and office hours can be efficiently introduced annually and reinforced on a company intranet or bulletin board, for example.

Other news such as that which impacts the overall company structure, success and progress should be communicated immediately, and in person even if that requires a Web interface for remote office locations or off-site employees. For example, if your company is considering a merger or reorganization, employees should be notified. Nothing diminishes morale and loyalty more than when employees hear about significant changes secondhand.

Other updates such as company goals, financial initiatives and benefit changes should be communicated on a quarterly or annual basis. If you engage employees in workplace wellness, you should communicate information about initiatives and results on a monthly basis.

How can you best engage employees?

It is important to encourage and solicit two-way communication so employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with management. Sharing information with employees is essential; however, it is equally as important, if not more critical, to listen to their thoughts, concerns and ideas. This will bring additional value to the employees, while providing the employer with excellent feedback for future changes and improvements.

Employees do best when they feel engaged, informed and acknowledged, and are working for a company that cares about their individual needs. Quality and ongoing communication using a variety of tools and methods will improve employee morale and productivity.

Should employee demographics be considered?

Absolutely, consider demographics. A younger workforce will typically be more receptive to modern communication strategies such as blogs, social media tools, company intranets and other electronic communications. An older demographic may still prefer face-to-face and printed communication tools.

It is important to understand your employee comfort levels in regards to technology. Employers may consider surveying their employees to determine what forms of communication they prefer and what types of information they would prefer the company share with them on a regular basis. An employee survey will provide the insight needed to tailor a communication campaign, schedule and methods of delivery that will resonate with the workforce.

Ask your advisor today to identify communication options and how they can help you implement them for your employees. Consistent communication is a critical component for success.

Renay Gontis is a communications coordinator at JRG Advisors. Reach her at (412) 456-7000 or [email protected].

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