Effective employee communications are a critical element in any organization’s long-term success. Even the most visionary and comprehensive strategy for achieving growth and profitability is meaningless is if it isn’t effectively communicated to the individuals who are tasked with carrying it out. That’s where employee communications come in – and why every organization needs to ensure that its employees are all “on the same page” when it comes to the company’s message and direction. Let’s face it; the most important asset of almost any business is the experience, expertise, and commitment of its workforce. The best way to successfully unleash the true potential of your workforce is to clearly communicate your company’s vision, values, and goals. So, that just leaves us with one question: “what’s the best way to guarantee that you communicate effectively with your employees?”
Some Basic Rules to Effective Employee Communications
Although every company is different and has their own unique strengths and challenges when it comes to employee communications, there are some basic rules that we can all follow to communicate as effectively as possible to our employees and build the collaborative teams that fuel success across all fields. One of the interesting things about these basic rules is that they haven’t changed all that much even as the landscape of communication technology has transformed dramatically. In other words, the existence of smartphones, the Internet, email and social media may alter the way that information is transmitted to employees, but it doesn’t alter the core principles that govern whether that information is transmitted effectively or not. In an ever-changing world of communication media, the basic rules to effective employee communications remain the same. The rules below were inspired by Robin Hardman’s blog, “This New Year, Resolve to Improve Your Employee Communications.” 
Rule #1: Tell the Truth
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to effective employee communications. Employees can do a much better job if they have correct information (warts and all) about the company’s performance and direction. On the flip side, once employees get the sense that they can’t trust your communications, it can take a tremendous amount of effort to restore that trust, if it can be restored at all. And, when employees don’t trust the message they are getting, any future communications will be ignored or treated with suspicion. It’s best to trust your employees with the truth and rely on their help to transform unpleasant realities into a more positive direction in the future – as part of a collaborative team effort.
Rule #2: Avoid Jargon and Legalese
Many companies – and HR departments in particular – fall into the habit of using “corporate speak” or “legalese” when discussing issues with employees. This is a terrible mistake to make. Whenever you compose a message going out to your company’s teams, take the time to weed out any acronyms, overly complex or “wishy-washy” language, or any other elements that will only detract from your message being clear and concise.
Rule #3: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
What’s the best way to get anyone to internalize and engage with your message? Repeat it as often as possible, in as many different formats as possible. We’re all busy with our own personal projects – at work and at home. And, we are all constantly bombarded with information from multiple sources of media. In order to break through that clutter and noise, important employee communications should be delivered frequently and across a variety of media to ensure that everyone “gets the message.”
Rule #4: Keep Everyone in the Loop
Even if a particular message applies mainly to one specific team at your organization, it is always good to share the news as widely as possible, even if just to build the sense that you are all working together toward a common goal. Once you start following this rule, you may even be surprised by the unexpected dividends it yields. “Gail in Accounting” might end up having some valuable insight on a project that another department is working on, but you’ll never know if you don’t keep everyone in the loop.
Rule #5: Celebrate Individual Accomplishments
Employees become much better team members when they feel like their individual accomplishments are recognized and appreciated. Effective employee communications often find ways to include “shout-outs” to specific employees or teams for achievements both within and outside of the workplace. No one likes to feel like a faceless cog in a machine; let your employees have their moment to shine by highlighting their positive contributions. It will pay off in innumerable ways in the future.
Rule #6: Encourage Discussion
Communications always work best when they move in two (or more) directions, and employee communications are no exception to this rule. No one likes to feel like they are being talked down to from “on-high” instead of being an active participant in an ongoing conversation. Effective employee communications find a way to encourage discussion and input from everyone involved through many means, from time for questions at meetings to a whole range of options that social media has opened up for commenting and sharing ideas among individuals in the workplace.
Rule #7: Highlight Diversity and Inclusion
When communicating with employees it is critical that everyone feels like they are part of the team. By highlighting diversity in the people represented in your communications (whether this is images in a presentation or the choice of speakers at company meetings or events) you can make sure that everyone feels included in your message and vision. And, by diversity, we don’t just mean racial or gender diversity. This approach should also be sure to include people with disabilities and even different segments of the company’s workforce – from the boardroom to the factory floor. By making a conscious effort at inclusion in all of your employee communications, all your employees will feel like they are working on the same team, moving the company forward in the same direction, together.
A Case Study in Effective Employee Communications
Christopher Chiames, a former senior vice president for corporate affairs at US Airways, faced a significant employee communications challenge in 2002 when he had to persuade workers to make sacrifices as part of a corporate restructuring designed to save the company. He underlined the importance of transparency and consistency to effective employee communications when describing this critical moment.
“We started communicating to all our constituencies pretty quickly about what we were trying to accomplish. We laid it all out. We didn’t sugarcoat it. In today’s Internet age, you can’t afford to have duplicate and conflicting messages. Everything has to be transparent. Everything has to be consistent.”
Moving beyond this specific example, Chiames makes a broader point about the importance of day-to-day engagement with employees in any organization, including listening to and incorporating feedback from those employees as part of the process.
“You [have to] solicit feedback and show that you’re interested in what employees are thinking and making changes to the organization based on the feedback. The organizations that aren’t successful are because people don’t want to be bothered; they don’t want to deal with the feedback. It’s [about] engaging employees at all levels — the security guard at the front desk, the receptionist. It’s that kind of day-to-day engagement that’s critical to making employee communication successful.”
Where TPG HR Services Can Help
If you are looking to improve or enhance your employee communications, TPG HR Services USA is here to help. Whether you want assistance with the day-to-day process of keeping employees informed and on the same page or just need some advice on how to add new channels of communication to your company’s existing options – our team of talented HR professionals can help you get started. Whatever your needs, TPG HR Services can help you design and implement a package of effective employee communications techniques that will help you build the collaborative teams you need to succeed now and in the years to come. Call TPG HR Services at 732-917-6000 to get started today.