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How does communication and employee engagement work?

9 April, 2019
How do managers become effective organisational change agents?

Tips to ensure the consistency and understanding that foster employee engagement

The role of communication and employee engagement is often neglected when devising an employee engagement strategy. While numerous surveys and meetings may feed into strategy, overlooking how to communicate and align communications with the organisation’s vision, mission and purpose can be a fatal error.

Poor communication strategy leads to poor communication, poor understanding of individual roles, values and worth, and misconception of the big picture that drives an organisation’s strategic focus.

In this article, we discuss the role of communication and employee engagement, and how workplaces can remain informed and engaged through effective communication.

 

What is the role of communication and employee engagement?

Engaged employees are generally more loyal, more productive, and better persuaders in front-facing customer roles. They are more likely to be champions of change and keener to develop their own skills and those of others around them. They are also likely to be more creative and more collaborative. As Gallup has found, employee engagement drives growth.

There are many advantages of employee engagement. Yet, in today’s workplace, communicating effectively to engage employees is a challenging proposition. Technology is changing rapidly, as is the English language: factors which serve to complicate the communication challenge further.

Organisations must ensure that their messages are conveyed consistently across different workplace functions, abilities and capabilities. This may be the biggest of all challenges when linking effective communication to an employee engagement strategy – one that shares values, objectives, beliefs and goals in a consistent manner. Organisations that get it right are more likely to benefit from the advantages of employee engagement.

 

Employees are engaged on a personal level, not a business level

The trick to employing effective communication and employee engagement is to understand that most employees will be engaged on a personal level, not a business level. People are more productive when they work for organisations with which they can identify. If your people don’t understand your values, vision and mission, they are less likely to go the extra mile to help you achieve them.

On the other hand, an employee who understands where they fit into the equation, the value they bring to the organisation and the part they play in achieving the big picture is more likely to not only go above and beyond, but also help others achieve their maximum potential too.

 

How does communication and employee engagement work?

There are some well-known rules that ensure effective communication and employee engagement. When devising communications tactics, an organisation should ensure that their leaders and managers provide:

  • A clear, consistent message with the appropriate level of information
  • Clarity, transparency and accountability
  • Openness and honesty with an authentic tone
  • Passion and connection to the business, and its values and beliefs
  • Alignment with goals, vision and mission

When an organisation becomes distracted by the business goals, it may forget the basic requirement of communication: to make messages accessible and understandable to all.

 

How can you communicate consistently to employees?

Each person has their own preferred way of communicating. Some may prefer emails, others a face-to-face conversation, while some are more likely to engage with communication via social media. The way in which messages are received impacts people’s recognition of their importance.

When considering communication and employee engagement, it is necessary to take all such factors into consideration. Should managers identify sets of employees and communicate differently to each group, segmenting their efforts, say, into email, memo, face-to-face, and general notices? Doing so has no guarantee of getting a consistent message across, and makes the communication work of managers, leaders and supervisors more cumbersome and time-consuming.

The most effective communication is conversational, in which people can express views and opinions, ask questions and clarify their own understanding. This is one reason team meetings are so effective. These conversations enable relationships to be formed and enhanced, and creativity to emerge.

 

Communication and employee engagement in the big picture

To engage your employees, it is vital to let them know what is happening, why and how, and the positive impact that they have. This is big-picture thinking and requires big-picture communication. By improving how these messages are communicated, you stand a better chance of improving engagement. The question is, how do you achieve this when so many messages are lost or misunderstood in the process of communication and employee engagement?

This is where the real-world advantages of visualisation in communication show their true value. Since humans first walked the earth, we have been communicating visually to build the understanding of others, explain complicated and complex messages and improve learning. We use visuals in everyday life too:

  • Children learn to read with the aid of visuals
  • Teachers and lecturers explain complex theories with the aid of visuals on blackboards and whiteboards
  • Marketers use visualisation in commercials, printed adverts and on billboards
  • Organisations include charts and graphs in presentations to explain performance and progress
  • Political cartoonists create pictorial satire that explains in one glance what a whole-page editorial would find hard to depict

Visualisation works because it breaks down complexity. It works with diverse groups because it allows everyone to participate on a level playing field – even in groups where a language barrier exists.

 

Communication and employee engagement in action

When hired by Working Links, The Big Picture People were tasked with helping the organisation consolidate its position as a premier provider of employability, learning and skills, and justice sector programmes to thousands of people in the UK and internationally, on behalf of a wide range of government and funding bodies. It wanted to help employees look back to recognise the journey they had taken and to enthuse them about the potential for future growth.

In close collaboration with the Working Links Executive Team, The Big Picture People developed:

  • A unique Learning Map formatted as a metaphorical journey that enabled people from ‘all corners of the organisation’ to experience the journey the organisation had been on since its establishment in 2000
  • A custom-designed series of action learning tools, including exercises and discussion points to highlight the changing needs of stakeholders as well as the advantages of better internal collaboration and partner working
  • A comprehensive facilitator guide and toolkit to enable a consistently high-quality experience for almost 50 internal facilitators and close to 1,000 participants

The impact of this work has been significant and you can read the case study here. After presentation:

  • 97% of employees said they now understand the drivers of change and the volatility for the business
  • 89% reported better collaboration across the business, representing enormous strides to moving forward
  • Almost nine out of 10 of those surveyed said that they could now see a greater connection between the values across functions, paving the way to improving overall cooperation and communication across the organisation
  • Almost 90% also confirmed that they now realise there were more things they can positively influence in their working environment than they had previously thought

To ensure that your communication and employee engagement strategies align and produce the outcomes you expect, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

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