Elon Musk doesn’t believe in employee communication. Well, at least not in the traditional sense of the term.
In an email to his employees at Tesla, the CEO explained his expectations when it comes to the company’s flow of information. Rather than taking the outdated approach of hierarchical communication, Musk believes collaboration is the key to empowering the employee experience.
It turns out, employees agree with Musk. In a survey by our team at EmployeeChannel, non-desktop (retail associates, nurses, factory workers, servers, etc.), remote, and corporate office employees revealed they also believe communication is critical to a positive employee experience.
Unfortunately, they also said their employers and HR teams aren’t communicating with them frequently or effectively.
All three groups ranked “communicates frequently and effectively with employees” as one of the top two behaviors that create a positive experience at work.
Unfortunately, survey respondents had little positive to say about their HR teams’ communication efforts.
Nearly half of employees reported they were “neutral, disagreed, or strongly disagreed” that the HR team’s communication efforts made them feel more informed or engaged at work. Seventy-five percent of them indicated that HR communicates with them “never or rarely” or only “sometimes.”
Musk explained in his email that when communication is forced through “proper channels,” ideas and feedback are ultimately destroyed. And with these repercussions of effective communication comes disinterested and disengaged employees.
In fact, only 16% of our respondents reported they were “connected and engaged.” It’s clear that poor employee communication has a profoundly negative impact on employee experience.
What’s going wrong
We all know that HR teams and their organizations are firmly committed to open communication, and HR teams invest a tremendous amount of time and effort in communicating with employees. So, why the big gap between perception and reality?
The likely problem is that communications too often fail to reach employees for a host of reasons, including the inherent weaknesses of older technologies and low-tech approaches.
Bloated email boxes, stale intranets, and generic group messaging contribute to poor employee communication. For some employees, limited-to-no digital access, different locations and time zones, and lack of face time also contribute to poor communication.
Where to start improving
The first step in improving both employee communication and the employee experience is to be bold, to look for the disruptive approach, and to throw off the shackles of conventional wisdom — a common inhibitor to innovation.
Musk went as far as saying any leader who stunts the growth of effective communication will be let go — “no kidding.”
While you may not go to this extreme, it’s crucial to start looking for communication solutions that enable your HR team to reach employees anytime, anywhere with targeted communications that are personally relevant to each employee.
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The key here is to design communication around the employee, not the organization. Solutions that provide your employees with personalized responses at their moment of need help create a more positive employee experience.
Overall, look for a communication solution that takes advantage of the mobile, personalization, analytics, and AI technologies that are used for customer communications. Our employees deserve as much investment as our customers if we want to stay competitive.
Last, but certainly not least, listen to your employees. Employees ranked “open communication to all employees” as one of the top two initiatives they wished their employer would focus on more, trailing only “positive recognition.” When asked how they wished the HR department would communicate with them, the top response was “more frequently.”
You’re committed to open communication, and employees want to hear from you more. You share a common purpose. You just need the right channel of communication to make it happen