Focus on the Basics to Improve Employee Communication

January 6, 2011

What does it take for employees to feel that the communication in their workplace is effective? After completing more than a dozen employee communication assessments in the last three years for a variety of large companies and professional associations, our research results show one thing over and over again: they just want the basics.

Using advanced analyses, we’ve learned that the most basic attributes of employee communications are often key factors influencing employees’ perceptions. Those rising to the top?
  • Complete. Employees want communications that tell the whole story.
  • Current. They want up-to-date information.
  • Timely. They want information and news to be shared quickly.
  • Relevant. They want information that is meaningful to them.

In addition, these basic attributes have a high correlation with desired employee outcomes, like speaking positively about their organizations and helping them do their jobs well.

Importantly, we have found these basics to be more influential than other criteria we have investigated – from the usefulness of information topics like organizational updates, to a variety of communication vehicles like an intranet, e-mail and newsletters. We’ve also looked at the influence of communications from senior leaders and direct supervisors as possible drivers of employees’ negative or positive views about internal communications. Although these factors are important and useful, it’s the more basic attributes of communications that greatly influence how employees view overall communications in their organizations.

At a time when organizations are focusing on connecting business and communication strategies, it is evident from our work that the basics of communication are essential to the foundation of internal communication planning.