Business Training

How does communication impact employee engagement?

Just the other day, we presented the findings from the engagement survey for one of the world’s leading bathroom fittings company.

At first glance, their numbers and accompanying qualitative feedback on employee engagement were extremely positive. Particularly, a 100% response rate and over 3 comments per employee on average went to show just how important every employee believed the survey was and how much they expected would improve as a result of this survey.

The organization had also pegged itself against other high performing organizations in the same industry and comparable industries to benchmark its performance and engagement scores relative to others

While all the scores checked out per the CEO’s expectations, he began to realize a common trend across all areas of improvement:

  • The company had not scored as favorably in it’s Performance Management process owing to low scores in HR and Managerial effectiveness
  • Despite being a global leader with dominant market share in countries like India, employees did not give a thumbs up to how the company went about resolving customer related issues, especially after-sales queries from dealers and end customers
  • Employees voted down the ability of their managers to engage in 1:1 conversations with them relating to their career goals, development and felt the overall ability to relate to and trust managers was inherently missing
  • Even though the organization’s goals and long term vision was a source of pride for employees, they felt directionless on the progress they and their company were making towards these goals. Many employees cited that despite clear goals set at the start of the year, many changes were introduced without enough firsthand knowledge about why those changes to the organization’s goals were important.
  • Lastly, despite several areas of improvement, there were genuine high performing areas that the organization excelled at such as safety, quality assurance and brand name in the market. However, employees believed that successes in these areas (and others) were not highlighted nor were they rewarded in the local markets where such milestones were being achieved. In the absence of such R&R, it became harder for best practices to be highlighted and shared across the organization.

As you might have guessed, ineffective communication or a lack of enough communication emerged as a stark gap across the organization, emanating perhaps from the senior leadership’s inability to constantly communicate the shifting priorities of the organization. This communication gap further trickled down to local managers not being able to have proper discussions with their team members.

Many other smaller but equally telling incidents were tabled by the CEO and his HR Director relating to how employees feared speaking out their minds and avoided confrontations that later would flare up to become much larger issues. For example, for a local manager at one of their largest plants, the idea of discussing HR policies seemed trivial enough to Whatsapp it to his team members. Little wonder then that members of his team either suffered from a misinterpretation of the policies or worse an equivalent way of responding to the manager on matters such as taking leaves, working from home, etc.

Quick to grasp on the seriousness of the matter, the CEO resolved to put together a quick action plan to arrest this communication issue within his immediate team and thereafter ensure it cascaded down all the way to the local managers at the plant and branch offices.

This incident might not be as isolated of a case as you may expect. In fact, 60% or more annual employee engagement survey results point to effective communication as a key lever to improve important business issues – from sales and customer service to manufacturing and managerial effectiveness.

By getting it right, organizations can create an internal momentum that catalyzes employees to provide discretionary efforts, which ultimately improves employee engagement results and in turn business performance.

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