(Employee) Communication Breakdown…


So much for team spirit. In yet another indication of severe gaps in employee communications, a report released last week by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation (San Francisco) found that only about one in three companies has been successful in motivating employees to understand, to be committed to and to carry out employers' business strategy in their daily jobs. What's more, only about half of companies have effectively involved their management and leadership teams in communicating with employees. Aligning employees with the strategy of their businesses, and engaging managers and senior leadership in communicating with workers rank as the top two employee communications challenges in a survey of 472 organizations worldwide by Right Management Consultants (Philadelphia) and the IABC. But while managers may want to address the problems that arise from poor employee communications, many of them are having a hard time changing the behavior of the rank and file. While 63% of companies said aligning their employees with the strategy of their business is their No. 1 employee communications goal, just 37% report their efforts have been successful, says the report "Best Practices in Employee Communication: A Study of Global Challenges and Approaches." Others just lend lip service to improving employee communications: 42% of companies said actively involving managers and company leadership in communicating with workers is the second-biggest employee communications goal, but almost half - 48% - said they weren't doing this effectively. The are many reasons why managers and senior leaders are not involved effectively in employee communications at many organizations: inconsistent messages being sent to employees; lack of visibility of leaders - especially during tough times; lack of employees' trust in leadership; and managers who don't understand their roles in employee communications or do not have the required skills or tools. As for those companies unable or unwilling to engage their employees more effectively - they probably will pay a steep price. "Companies with employees who understand and can carry out their employer's business strategy tend to have higher worker-retention rates and are generally more productive than those with disengaged work forces," said Chris Gay, one of the study's authors and senior VP/employee engagement practice leader for Right Management Consultants, in a news statement. Adds Paul Sanchez, chair of the IABC Research Foundation: "There has been much dialogue in recent years about the value of communicating effectively with employees. However, the daily struggles faced by internal communicators worldwide have largely been unaddressed." (To order the full report, go to http://store.yahoo.com/iabcstore/beprinemco.html or call 415.544.4700.)

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