A Gallup poll recently revealed that around 70% of employees don’t feel engaged at work. There are many reasons for this, but a big one is lack of communication between employees and senior leadership. In a world where the cost to recruit and train new employees is prohibitive, employee retention is vital. Helping your employees feel engaged, and keeping the lines of communication open can help you retain the best and brightest on your team.
Fortunately, there are some clear ways toward improving communication within your company.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
One of the first steps toward better communication is to get everyone in the company on the same page. You likely already know the vision of your company. In a recent blog post titled “Becoming a Better Leader for Your Business,” I talk about the necessity of having a vision for your company.
“A fighter pilot has to know his destination before he even gets in the cockpit. He needs to know what his mission is and where he’s going.”
Ultimately, for your company to be successful, you must have a strong vision of where you’d like your company to go. However, just having the vision isn’t enough. You also need to communicate that vision with your employees.
A quick 10-minute meeting each morning can be used to get everyone on the same page. If there is a big project you’re working on, this meeting can be used for everyone to share what their task is for the day.
As the leader of your company, this meeting is your chance to very quickly give your employees a one-sentence description of the current mission. This may vary from time-to-time. Getting everyone working toward the same end goal will help everyone from the cleaning crew to the CEO understand what is at stake and what is most important.
Team building activities can help your employees learn to communicate with one another and help you learn how to communicate with them. Try to make team building a weekly or bi-weekly event. Also, if you can make these times enjoyable, your employees will be more likely to look forward to and fully participate in these activities.
For example, you can host an awards ceremony where you recognize stellar work performance for the week, but also let them enjoy free tacos, ice cream or some other treat. Fridays are a good day for these types of activities.
Another idea is to take your entire team to an escape room event. These are fun events because of the nature of escape room games, everyone has to learn how to work together to solve the clues and get out of the room in time. Personalities come to the forefront during one of these games and everyone learns how to work around their own limitations but pull on their strengths.
Of course, there are many other team building activities you can offer your employees. These are just a couple to get you started. They work.
Communication doesn’t have to take a lot of time. A short memo that you send out via instant message, email, or even text can keep your employees motivated and feeling connected.
If the team is hard at work on a big project, you might send out an IM that reads, “Good work, crew! We are halfway finished with the AYZ Construction Company project. We are on target for our completion date. Free pizza for everyone in the lunch room tomorrow!”
Allow Multiple Forms of Communication
We live in an extremely technological world. Did you know Pew Research found that 77% of Americans own a smartphone. That is more than 2/3rds of the country. Throughout the day, as you go from place to place, you’ll notice that people are really attached (addicted) to their phones. They are great at communicating via SMS already, so this is a good way to communicate with your employees throughout the day.
As the leader, communication starts with you and will flow down through your organization. You can set the tone by sending out a text to one or more employees with short updates or questions. Remember that communication doesn’t have to take hours, but can happen in the blink of an eye.
At the same time, you should encourage employees to connect in any way they feel most comfortable. Options might include text, email, face-to-face, or telephone. This will encourage even the shyest employees to reach out to you for feedback and to give you input on their part of the workplace.
Even though you might allow for different types of communication, you should also offer a monthly one hour meeting where all employees are present. I have found that if you will commit to this monthly meeting that employees will quickly become more engaged, primarily because they will be aware of what is going on in the company and will clearly see how their job impacts the overall work being done.
The meetings should be predictable and held on the same day and time each and every month. It should be part of the organizational structure. Don’t just lecture at your employees, but hold a town hall type meeting where they can ask questions and offer input. Take the time to address any rumors candidly. This can put the rumor to rest. Be honest! If it is true, explain. If it is not true, then say so and move on.
I also suggest that you also hold a weekly staff meeting with department heads. This is the perfect venue to share information with your leaders and keep everyone going in the same direction. Foster an environment where information is shared openly.
When flying with the US Navy, we had briefings where we went over all mission details, from preflight to landing. We talked in detailed. We were all on the same page, knew how we were going to get there and what the goal was. Everyone knew their role and the expectations were clear. I encourage you to think like a fighter pilot and do the same thing with your staff.
Take the time to celebrate the wins your company has. Give out awards, offer some extra perks, and even just say thank you publicly to those employees who have gone above and beyond. Keep the emphasis on your employees and their contributions and efforts and it will be very difficult for another company to steal away your best workers.
Communication allows your company to have more victories and also keeps your employees engaged. It is worth improving communication to create a company culture that is satisfying to every worker at your business.