Beyond words: The power of effective communication for employee engagement

Boosting employee engagement is often at the forefront of HR and management initiatives, resulting in countless surveys, meetings, reward schemes and other new programmes.

But the simplest way to increase engagement is often overlooked - it starts with day-to-day communication.

One of the most challenging tasks for any organisation today is effectively communicating with its employees. Regular communication with employees helps ensure everyone understands the business goals and objectives, as well as their role in achieving them.

Yet, with ever-evolving technology and new communication channels emerging daily, businesses must ensure they reach their people in a manner that suits them.

While a printed memo may have sufficed a few decades ago, those days are gone, and organisations now face the challenge of communicating with multiple generations of employees simultaneously- many of whom expect the instant, enjoyable, and globally accessible aspects of social media from their personal lives to extend to their professional lives.

It’s difficult to find arguments against engaging your staff. Engaged employees are more loyal, productive, and committed to the organisation they work for. They tend to exceed expectations and have been shown to generate more innovative ideas because they genuinely want the business to succeed, actively seeking opportunities for improvement.

But what is the role of communication in creating an engaged workforce?


The recipe for successful communication

Effective communication can be likened to a recipe, wherein each one demands a unique blend of ingredients. That’s because every organisation’s culture differs, setting the tone and way in which messages are delivered. As people evolve and become more engaged, the culture grows and develops accordingly, but the below ingredients are necessities that will need to be in the mix every time:

  • A clear, consistent message with the appropriate level of information
  • Openness and honesty conveyed with authenticity
  • Passion and connection
  • Clearly defined goals, purpose and direction
  • Clarity, transparency, measurement, and accountability

While these ingredients may seem straightforward and apparent, organisations often become overly fixated on business aspects, neglecting the essential human connection required for employees to genuinely engage. Review recent communications to ensure they include all ingredients - crafting this recipe can be challenging at times, but it becomes easier as everyone adopts an open and authentic communication approach.


Communicating to a collective of unique individuals

Each person will have their own communication style and preferences, making it challenging to effectively engage with them collectively. Understanding this is crucial for organisations aiming to improve employee engagement.

So how does an organisation ensure that the messages they want to get across are communicated effectively and that it does in fact help to improve employee engagement?

Line managers play a significant role. By undergoing coaching and training to increase self-awareness, they can better understand themselves and others. This self-awareness enables them to connect with employees on an individual basis, considering their differences and similarities.

Since line managers have the most frequent interaction with employees, they should be the focal point of leadership initiatives focused on improving communication to boost engagement.

Involving line managers in discussions with HR and senior management regarding engagement goals and objectives is essential. This ensures they grasp the significance of enhancing engagement and are prepared to adjust their communication styles accordingly. Cultivating a culture of openness and honesty among team members significantly impacts engagement and business outcomes, necessitating alignment among all line managers with this approach. So, it’s critical that your line managers are all on board with this approach.

When line managers and employees communicate effectively, it provides clarity around what is being asked of them. It also encourages personal development through participation in new initiatives. Supporting managers by providing suggestions for various communication methods, especially when managing multiple reports, enhances communication frequency and effectiveness.

While one-on-one discussions are most effective for open communication, it’s essential to allow flexibility for non-business-related conversations. This sometimes means going off track and entering open conversation - and that’s okay. It’s during those moments that relationships are built and strengthened, sparking creativity and establishing strong connections.

However, such discussions become more challenging in remote work settings or when individuals are too occupied to engage in casual conversations. In such cases, leveraging technology becomes crucial. Encouraging managers to use instant messaging to check in with their team members about their day is one approach, additionally, creating an intranet platform resembling social media sites where employees can share pictures, updates, and comments, facilitating communication in a manner familiar to them from their personal lives, thereby enhancing engagement.


Keep employees in the loop on the important stuff

Dedicated employees seek clarity regarding the organisation's trajectory and their role within it. Improving communication between senior leaders and employees is crucial for aligning everyone towards shared goals. While line managers handle day-to-day engagement, senior leaders can support this effort by fostering open and genuine communication from the top down.

This can take various forms, such as the CEO delivering speeches during staff meetings to outline the business’s strategy and direction. Additionally, simple gestures like leaders stepping out of their offices to interact with employees, stopping to greet them authentically, or organising monthly informal gatherings where a few randomly selected employees can have a casual chat with a senior leader can significantly boost engagement.

Everyone desires to feel valued, and when employees realise that their opinions carry weight, they are inclined to participate more actively in the company culture. Thus, it’s essential to promote vocal participation among employees. Provide them with various channels to express themselves, ensuring they can choose the communication method that suits them best.

Effective communication is the cornerstone of an engaged workforce. Incorporating these best practices can facilitate meaningful connections with employees, ultimately moving towards an engaged workforce and contributing to successful business outcomes.

Discover how you can enhance communication for better employee engagement using the Insights Discovery model, which utilises the language of colour energies. Boost awareness among your managers and employees alike by learning more here.