Most companies dedicate substantial time and energy to researching, planning, and implementing communication strategies that build stronger relationships with their customers, but the most successful also dedicate an equally significant amount of energy to communicating with their employees.
Legendary former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said, “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
Employee communication is vitally important to building a successful company. In addition to building an informed workforce that clearly understands the why and how of the work they do each day, effective and genuine communication between a company’s senior leadership and its frontline workers can make or break employee engagement.
According to a Gallup study, only 22% of employees “strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization’s leadership communicates effectively.” Similarly, a study by IBM and Globoforce found that “44% of employees do not feel their senior leaders provide clear direction about where the organization is headed.”
In many cases, a company’s senior leadership may very well have a detailed plan for the organization’s future, however, if it’s not being effectively communicated down the line, it’s more difficult for employees to rally around a common goal. Opening the lines of communication with frontline workers is the key to great leadership that builds engaged and productive workforces.
So, where are many companies falling short in their communication practices?
A poll from the Harvard Business Review highlighted some of the top communication issues that prevent effective leadership, including “not recognizing employee achievements” (63%), “not giving clear directions” (57%), “not having time to meet with employees” (52%), “not knowing employees’ names” (36%), and “not asking about employees’ lives outside of work” (23%).
Whether it’s implementing a formal internal communication channel or organizing a weekly “coffee with the CEO” roundtable in the breakroom, it’s in a company’s best interest to make a deliberate and genuine effort to bridge the gap between the “C-suite” and frontline workers.
In fact, according to a study from Towers Watson on how businesses capitalize on effective communication, “Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.”
Bottom line, better communication from the top down is always a win-win.