Most employers communicate more during stressful times
Most employers were doing the right thing and communicating more with their employees during the tough times of the global financial recession, according to a 2008 survey by international HR firm, Watson Wyatt Worldwide (now Willis Towers Watson). Let’s hope they have continued to learn about the importance of keeping employees informed.
Watson Wyatt surveyed senior communicators in a broad range of US industries about the impacts of the financial crisis.
Two thirds of employers increased communication to employees after the crisis began. Around 60% had planned to integrate messages related to the economic downturn into their communication programs on an ongoing basis.
Most companies that had been measuring outcomes believe their crisis-related communication had been at least somewhat effective in improving employee engagement and productivity.
Frontline managers need to be used more to communicate key messages
Around 90% of the communicators said their senior leaders were delivering the messages, but only half were using their frontline managers to reinforce these messages and explain what they meant for employee work groups. They were using PR (67%) and HR (59%) to deliver these messages more than frontline managers (56%), which is rather mystifying.
Communicators were using a range of media to deliver these messages. Face-to-face meetings of one kind or another were used by 87% of companies in conjunction with email (86%) and intranet (76%). Social media were being used in 24% of the companies surveyed.
The main goals of the internal communication were to ease anxiety (69%) and manage change (49%).
Need to make communication address employee needs
Employees were asking mostly about job security (43%), company performance and solvency (36%), bonuses or other incentive pay (28%) and customer impact (25%).
However, employers had communicated mainly about company performance and solvency (80%), customer impact (49%) and benefit programs (46%).
In summary, most employers were engaging in intensified communication due to the economic situation. The use of face-to-face communication was good, except much more use should have been made of frontline managers and supervisors to convey messages.