“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen Covey
It was the last masterclass that I would follow under the Executive Int’l MSc Corporate Communication of the Rotterdam School of Management so I wanted to be extremely picky. The masterclass on public affairs has been on my list for a long time but it was not on the calendar until late 2020. Suddenly, I had the epiphany that I wanted to write my thesis around leadership communication and corporate culture and the masterclass on employee communication revolves just around these themes.
So I signed up, enjoyed three amazing learning days with all smart and supportive peers in the communication field and went home with these nuggets of employee communication whys. If you’re thinking why you should invest in a robust employee communication program, read on.
Your employee is your first and most important stakeholder
Before anything else, your employees are your first and most important stakeholder. If they are well cared for, it is felt by every stakeholder in your organization.
A solid employee communication program ensures a positive employee experience from writing the vacancy to successful onboarding and retaining high-performers. For companies based in different locations, the employee communication program connects employees with each other. It ensures that employees are well-informed of what’s happening in the organisation, in times of stability and change.
Change is the only constant
How many times have we heard that an organisation is changing without hearing why and what elements are exactly changing? Your employees are your greatest assets. When things are changing, they want to know why and how they will be affected by that change. Non-information leads to misinformation and coffee machine whispers. Eventually, more time is spent in figuring out what’s really happening than productive work. This situation can also impact the company culture negatively.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Organizational culture is your company’s personality. It is a collection of shared values shaped by the employees you decided to hire. A good employee communication program safeguards this by making sure that employees are constantly informed about the company vision, beliefs and behaviours. Zappos is one of those companies with a distinct organizational culture. They are even known for publishing an annual culture book.
So imagine producing a well-written strategy that does not reflect the company culture. You might have to do some cleansing before getting a move on with your strategy. So make sure that the strategy and culture work hand in hand and if changes are necessary, a well-crafted employee communication program should ensure that the information is shared on all levels. If you do choose for purification, Zappos may be able to teach you a thing or two:
Internal is the new external
It is the age of digital democracy. Any employee with access to a computer and the internet can write you a review. Imagine if that employee has been treated badly. What would he/she say on Glassdoor? And how will that reflect on your reputation? Did you know that employee engagement is now considered an investor trust criterion (Edelman, 2019)?
While millenials prefer to work for companies that contribute to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives (Cone, 2016), investors consider positive employee engagement as your company CSR. It’s like living the adage, “charity begins at home.” Before any CSR efforts or green advocacy, make sure your employees are happy first. Doing good is good for your business. That means doing good by your employees too.
In other words
Whatever kind of company you are running, good reputation is key to keep the customers coming. Before an exceptional customer journey can happen, an excellent employee experience must be in place. If your employees are unhappy, it will bleed through your customer relations. What’s worse, you will lose your good employees and may never fill your standing vacancies.
A solid employee communication program ensures that your employees are engaged even before they start working for you. So work from the inside out and make your brand shine to clients and high-performers alike.#
- Cone Communications. (2016). Millennial Employee Engagement Study. https://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2016-millennial-employee-engagement-study
- Edelman. (2019), 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report. https://www.edelman.com/research/2019-edelman-trust-barometer-special-report-institutional-investors
- Men, R. L., & Bowen, S. A. (2017). Excellence in internal communication management. New York: Business Expert Press.