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4 Employee Communication Tips to Reveal What Employees Really Want

Posted by Sandy Yu on 9.26.2019


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An overwhelming 57 percent of employees don’t trust their leaders according to a 2017 survey performed by Davis Associates.

And, leaders are starting to notice.

A PWC Global CEO report revealed 55 percent of company leaders believe a lack of trust is a serious threat to the success of their teams and their business.

The solution? It all begins with leaders understanding how to discover what employees really want, what they want in their careers, from their leaders, and their companies as a whole. With the power of this knowledge, leaders can make a real impact through employee communication. Which will result in improvements in trust, morale, and engagement.

We reached out to company leaders who are aware that employees don’t always feel comfortable being completely honest. Here's what they're doing to peel back the layers and enhance employee communication successfully:

1. Stop taking a one-size-fits-all approach


Employees are motivated by different things. Therefore, their needs look different. Also, the same employee might have different motivations at different times in their career. Many employees are hesitant to share what they want with leaders because the age-old hierarchies were set up for information to flow down, not up. This means employees don’t naturally feel safe providing feedback upwards.

Start by finding out the individual needs and motivators of each employee. Host regular one-on-ones with employees and make it a regular part of the agenda to ask them, “What can we do so that you're most effective and engaged in your work? What should we start or stop doing? What should we do more of?”

Lisa J. Barrington, Founder and Principal, Barrington Coaching

2. Ask questions in small bites

VivekAsk questions, but only ask a few at a time. When employees are forced to sit down and take lengthy surveys, they lose focus and fail to think deeply about their responses. Only ask questions in small, digestible quantities.

Then, measure your results over time by benchmarking data. Ask the same questions periodically (i.e., once per quarter) to diagnose seasonal trends in employee satisfaction.

Vivek Kumar, CEO of Qlicket

3. Give them space

Employees sometimes struggle to be truthful as they (wrongly) feel it will have negative consequences.

We allow our team to have an internal staff meeting once a month, with no management or supervisor. They can hash out issues and problems constructively by discussing how they propose to solve them.

These findings are presented to us as a group, with no name attached any issue. This allows employees to speak up without fear of incrimination.

Ramya Menon, Editor at Bayut

4. Actually act on feedback

Two of the main reasons employees don’t communicate with leaders are: 1.) Fear of consequences, which can range from being perceived as difficult to losing a job. And, 2.) Not knowing when and how to have these conversations.

Once per quarter, we send out a job and company satisfaction surveys to all staff members. This survey is 100 percent anonymous and confidential. Anonymity gives employees more confidence to share their opinions.

Here’s the important part: you need to actually act on the feedback and work over the next quarter to make improvements. The more you show you take feedback seriously and act on it, the more employees will be willing to share.

After the survey results come in, we hold a meeting with every department. For each question, we call out team members and give them an opportunity to share and discuss their ideas. We also add prompts that can mitigate fears. For example, “What are the reasons you would leave the company? It’s 100 percent cool if you have other priorities outside of work. If your band hit it big and you went on a worldwide tour, we’d be excited for you!”

Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack

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Topics: employee communication, communication trends

Human Resources Today