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Employee Communication – Why It’s Important and How to Succeed at It

June 5, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

There is a huge gap between the importance and the effectiveness of employee communication in today’s workplace. According to a new report, The State of Employee Communications 2021 by the HR Research Institute, 88% of HR professionals say employee communication is extremely or very important to success in their organizations.  However, only 30% indicate employee communication is highly or very highly effective.

The communication deficit revealed by this study has large implications for performance. 80% of HR professionals agree or strongly agree that employee communication has a positive impact on employee experience and engagement, and 74% say it has a positive impact on employee performance. Nearly as many (74%) say it has a positive impact on the employer brand.  In summary, it’s important!

Looking at companies that report being effective at employee communications, they are more likely to:

  • Track and measure employee communication
  • Train managers in communication practices
  • Have employees who feel they are being heard
  • Have above average employee performance

To better understand what makes a difference in employee communication, the report divided respondents into two cohorts:

  • Communication-leader organizations: Those answering, “High” or “Very High” to the survey question “To what degree is overall employee communication effective in your organization?”
  • Communication-laggard organizations in communication: Those answering, “Moderate,” “Low” or “Very Low” to that same question.

Findings regarding what makes a difference in employee communication include:

  1. Among communication-leader organizations, 66% rate high or very high in successfully measuring communication; among communication-laggard organizations, it is a mere 5%.
    1. Tip: Organizations that wish to improve employee communication should start by getting some measures in place.
  2. Almost 70% of communication-leader organizations go so far as to say communication is extremely important compared with 45% of laggards.
    1. Tip: Organizations wishing to improve employee communications might need to convince leadership that treating it as just moderately or very important is simply too low a bar.
  3. Communication-leader organizations are five times as likely as communication-laggard organizations to have employees who feel the company listens to them to a high or very high extent (65% vs. 13%).
    1. Tip: Good two-way communication can change both the reality and the perception that the organization isn’t listening.  Ask your employees if they feel heard.
  4. In communication-leader organizations, managers are almost twice as likely to keep direct reports informed about important organizational issues (83% vs. 42%).
    1. Tip: Training is key. Managers in communication-leader organizations are twice as likely as managers in communication-laggard organization to be trained in communication (62% vs. 24%).  ASE’s next Win Win Communications course is scheduled for June 29th.  Learn more here.
  5. 75% of communication-leader organizations collaborate with internal communications (IC) at least weekly compared to only 35% of communication-laggard organizations.
    1. Tip: If your organization has an internal communications team, HR should collaborate regularly to ensure employees are kept informed.  If there is no IC, much of the organizational communication should come from HR – whether HR related or not. Communication-leader organizations are twice as likely as laggards to give HR responsibility for digital transformation communications.

There are many different modes of communication (e.g., email, videos, team chats, town halls). Each works particularly well for a given purpose. It’s important to find the right communication tools for the right purposes

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