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29 Sep 2022
by Chris Andrew

How to get your communication strategy right

Companies need to pay attention to what employees say, how they say it and what they leave unsaid

7 tips for getting your communication strategy right.jpg 1

 

There are challenges ahead. While workplace cultures are still adjusting to the hybrid world, widespread economic strains are putting pressure on employee earnings.

Disengagement is high, affecting morale, and depleting productivity.

More than ever, companies need to watch and to listen to the messages their employees are giving them and respond effectively. This is about communicating in ways that build and maintain organisational energy and cohesion.

When your employees feel heard and responded to, engagement increases. That supports the business: increasing morale, driving performance and growing wealth. That virtuous circle protects jobs and supports employees’ financial, physical, and mental wellbeing.

So, here’s to get your communications strategy right...

1. Listen to your employees

When people read a room, they’re paying attention to all the cues they’re getting from the people around them, both verbal and non-verbal. In the same way, companies need to pay attention to what employees say, how they say it and what they leave unsaid.

In workplaces without a high trust culture, employees may not feel empowered to speak freely, but their attitude will be visible in their actions and interactions.

So, listen. Be alert to the undercurrents of communication. Understand what the signals are telling you.

2. Encourage two-way open communication

Whatever feedback you get, don’t be defensive, or reactive. If there’s negative feedback, don’t automatically look for a solution. Instead, ask questions.

The aim is to fully understand what you’re being told and what’s prompting those feelings. By taking this approach, you’re making it more likely that you will uncover what lies at the heart of any given challenge, so that you can address the root cause.

So, as well as asking questions, reflect on what you’ve heard and clarify to check that you’re understanding fully. This two-way, back-and-forth builds connection and engagement, for the simple reason that you are actively trying to understand how your employees feel and why they feel that way.

3. Recognise positive behaviours

This point has already been alluded to, but it’s really important that genuine communication – even when it’s negative – is seen as a positive behaviour. As a company, you need your employees to share what’s working and what isn’t.

So, it’s important to enable honest communication by listening to all voices, considering different points of view, and – whatever the outcome of a discussion – thanking employees for their contribution and showing that their opinions are valued.

4. Ensure your communication is relevant and simple

If listening to your employees is the first step, the second step is to respond to what they tell you. This is necessary whether or not you are implementing change in response to employee feedback.

If you’re not implementing change, you need to communicate that you have heard, to explain why the situation needs to remain as it is and to be straightforward about the likelihood of future change.

If you are implementing change, you need to communicate what’s changing, how it’s changing, why it’s changing and the outcome you are aiming for.

In both instances, keep the messaging as simple as possible. The best employee communication is friendly, jargon-free, and talks human-to-human. This simplicity enhances understanding, building connection.

5. Support leaders to be role models

For a communication strategy to be successful, what you say must be aligned with what your senior leadership do. They are key communicators across your business and play a critical part in modelling the mindset and behaviours you need.

So, you need to get full support from the leadership team for your communication strategy. You also need to provide them with tools and training to deliver clear, inspiring, inclusive and united messages to employees.

6. Engage your audience

As a rule of thumb, it’s useful to keep messaging as concise as possible. So, pay attention to your headlines. Match your tone to your message. Sum up with a definite call to action. And use the right mix of channels to ensure that all employees get the right messages, at the right times!

7. Be responsive

Done all that? Then it’s time to check-in and listen again.

In employee communication terms, reading the room is all about building connection through listening, questioning and actively responding to what you hear. Communication. Connection. Engagement.

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In partnership with Buck

Buck is a global, integrated HR consulting, benefits administration & technology services provider.

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