Human Capital Issues

Essence of Employee Communication

People with diverse backgrounds, different cultures, varied qualifications, contrasting experiences and unique skills – all, when taken together, form the greatest assets of an organization, or rather the organization itself. So what force holds them together? Well, the answer is Communication. It acts as a glue that binds every single employee with every other employee, every employee with his superiors and all the employees with the organization. Earlier being considered as a source of control and power, communication has now become liberal in organizations where every employee has now a right to access the information he needs. However, due to failures of mergers and acquisitions and huge layoffs, employees these days feel more disconnected from their employers.
This also puts a question on their loyalty for the company. Here comes the role of employee communication. Effective communication is thus, critical to the organization as it directly affects the organizational performance.

What to communicate?
Most corporate firms believe that employee communication is all about dispatching a weekly or monthly newsletter on everyone’s desk. For most companies communication means informing employees about the weekly or monthly happenings that occurred in the company during a specific time frame like the CEO inaugurating some internal function, or employee picnics and other miscellaneous events. What most of the companies miss out is the information which will help the employees in knowing the organization better like the new training systems being implemented, or the business models which the company follows. Such initiatives equip the employees to understand and adapt to the company’s strategic initiatives.

Before an employee is engaged and shows off his best performance, the Employee Communication Program in an organization should satisfy the following three key employee needs. The employee needs to:

  • Know the organization, what businesses the company is in, who are the customers, specific details about the product or service, where forms are located, who to see when there is a problem and the like, the values and philosophy of the organization and the like.
  • Know about his job profile, what purpose he is supposed to solve and what is expected out of him. He is also to be made aware of what practical skills will be required to do the job, the resources he will use, specification guidelines, etc.
  • Know the teams with which he will interact, his supervisors, and his team leader and peers. The essence of this is to inculcate into him a sense of belonging with the company. Effective communication should make him realize his worth to the company and ensure him that he will be listened to, respected, trusted, and valued by the company.

It is being observed that even though a company is a brand in the market, however, it fails to be the same in eyes of its own employees. The employee communication, thus, should aim towards having a common consensus about the organization in the minds of its employees. It should promoting loyalty among employees, inspire quality work that satisfies the need of the customers, and encourage employees to represent the company in a manner consistent with the image defined in the market. Moreover, the company should work towards promoting transparency and openness in employee communication.

There are four fundamental levels of communication in an organization. The first level deals with organization wide communication involves communicating all employees about practices and policies being followed or to be followed at organization level. It will include communicating about recruitment practices, remuneration policy, or change in pay grades. Such information has an organization wide impact and thus is to be communicated throughout the company. The next is departmental communication which is specific to a particular department or unit. Then there are team communications which deal within one cohesive team and include communication about targets to be met, resources to be used, etc. finally there are individual communications which are specific to one employee at any one time or occurs between employees.

Impact on performance
Employee communication is directly linked with the success of an organization. Generally, effective employee communication is linked to productivity and morale of the employees. The effective the communication, the better is the performance. Employees, today, want to have access to more and better information. Researches have revealed that effective communication has a positive impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, turnover, and morale. Research show that employees are most highly motivated and make their best contribution to the business when there is full and open communication at work. It is also proved that where there is an adequate flow of information and ideas among employees, productivity is enhanced and confusion, duplication, and unproductive conflict are minimized. Moreover, employee communication should not be seen as impersonal and a formality of dissemination information among the employees. It should be considered to be an empathetic transfer of understanding and deeper feelings.

Does this mean we have become experts in the field and that howsoever we communicate, its effective? Well, there are always scopes for improvement. With every new day, corporates are facing new challenges and barriers to communications. Huge number of employees on rolls, workforce diversity, cultural shifts, easy access to large databases, and employee attrition being some of them. Apart from this, there is an increasing demand for monitoring the employee communications. Many employers fear that employees can pass on the confidential data out of the company through emails or other channels. Moreover these facilities can be used for non business activities or personal uses which only adds to the costs incurred. It is a dilemma for employers whether they should monitor their outgoing mail or not. To deal with such challenges the future HR departments will have to acquire special competencies in order make the communication more effective and transparent.