A new study finds that effective employee engagement drives financial performance. This isn’t a new tune, although many companies continue to bury their head in the sand and not embrace two-way communications with employees as a key to the company’s success. This isn’t just something that is touchy-feely and can be dispensed when times are bad.
Some executives have the outlook: “Employees should be happy just to have a job.”
This is the wrong recipe for success.
Benefits consulting firm Towers Watson makes the case in its study, “Capitalizing on Effective Communication: How Courage, Innovation and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times”.
Here is what they learned:
Companies that communicate with courage, innovation and discipline, especially during times of economic challenge and change, are more effective at engaging employees and achieving desired business results.
- Effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance and a driver of employee engagement. Companies that are effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with the least effective communicators.
- Despite organizational and beneficial changes employers have been making in response to challenging economic conditions, only 14% of survey participants are explaining the terms of the new Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to employees.
- The best invest in helping leaders and managers communicate with employees.
- Despite the increased use of social media, companies are still struggling to measure the return on investment in these tools. Highly effective communicators are more likely than the least effective communicators to report their social media tools are cost-effective (37% vs. 14%).
- Measurement is critical. Companies that are less effective communicators are three times as likely as highly effective communicators to report having no formal measurements of communication effectiveness.
Makes sense to me.
With the start of 2010, companies that are floundering with their social media policies ought to check out IBM’s guidelines. One of many lines in the guidelines that intrigues me:
“IBM is increasingly exploring how online discourse through social computing can empower IBMers as global professionals, innovators and citizens. These individual interactions represent a new model: not mass communications, but masses of communicators.”
What a spot on statement. Gone are the days when a company can tightly control its message through advertising and printed materials. IBM has recognized that thousands of its employees, within certain guidelines, are the touch points for communications with customers, prospects and the general public.
Jon Iwata, SVP, Marketing & Communications, spells out IBM’s social media policy in this video. Jon Iwata – Social Media as an Internal Tool .
Empowering employees to serve as brand advocates for the company takes courage and a great deal of trust, but employees are doing it anyway. Now is the time to harness and synchronize internal communications with employee engagement.