Employee Communication: Help for a Disengaged Workforce


While doing some research for an employee communications class I’m teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall, I ran across some compelling information about the mindset of many people in today’s workforce.

I’ve already shared data from a 2010 Maritz Research poll that found only 10 percent of employees trust management to make the right decisions in uncertain times. The same poll found only 14 percent believe their leaders are ethical and honest, and 12 percent believe their leaders listen to and care about employees.

According to the Gallup organization, 72 percent of employees are not engaged in their work. Basically, they’re going through the motions.

Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study in 2010 found that during the 2008-10 financial crisis, 72 percent of U.S. companies reduced their workforces. Seven out of 10 employees say this negatively affected how they feel about their work and employers.

Engagement matters, too. Three years earlier, Towers Perrin (the predecessor firm) found that return on assets in high-engagement companies was six times higher than low-engagement companies. High-engagement companies also had an average 19 percent increase in operating income and an average 28 percent growth in earnings per share year-over-year. In low-engagement companies, operating income dropped an average of 32 percent and EPS dropped an average of 11 percent year over year.

If you need more proof that engagement is important to a company’s success, here are all kinds of statistics on the subject.

Roger D’Aprix says employee engagement is “unleashing the energy and talent of people in the workplace.” Companies need engaged workforces to drive innovation, to ensure customer satisfaction, and because today’s society — not to mention today’s workers — expect it. Besides, considering the power of social media, would you rather have engaged or disengaged employees firing up Facebook and Twitter at night?

Employee communication plays a vital role in helping companies keep employees engaged and working for rather than against them. Consider some of the ways employee communication can help:

  • It helps keep everyone focused on the same things by explaining business goals
  • It helps build a sense of community among workers so that they feel they are a part of something important and good
  • It helps explain policies, procedures and culture — the way things are done around here
  • It helps demystify the complexities of the company
  • It helps explain to employees why they should want to be involved in the business and how they can be
  • It connects people with others in the organization who can help them accomplish things
  • It helps create a sense of trust between management and employees

Unfortunately in lean times like these, employee communication is often one of the first things to have its budget and resources reduced. Yet, these are the times when employee communication is needed most — to help engage a battered and disenfranchised workforce.

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4 Responses

  1. [...] Read the full article . . . addthis_pub = 'bovee'; Comments Off [...]

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  3. [...] increasingly expect the communication function to positively affect the bottom line (and there are plenty of recent studies that indicate highly effective communication programs do just [...]

  4. [...] greatest challenges facing businesses today is the continued disintegration of employee engagement. I’ve written about this epidemic before and research continues to show that businesses are trying to achieve their goals with employees who [...]

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