Communicate to Improve Employee Engagement
Neuroscience is the study of what the brain does when we are thinking. And according to neuroscience, employees determine leadership effectiveness and competence in communication in less than one millisecond. Additional research has found that verbal communication only accounts for 7% of what employees remember.
The take-away for leaders is that employees are always watching how leaders and high performers behave and form lasting impressions about their character, competence, and level of engagement.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Our employee engagement survey data show engaged employees drive 8% greater productivity, 12% higher customer satisfaction, and 51% less voluntary turnover. What is not to like? Unfortunately we also know that most companies fail to fully implement employee engagement findings. The good news is that employees who see action after an engagement survey are twelve times more likely to be engaged the following year compared to those who do not see follow-up.
A Better Organizational Conversation About Employee Engagement
Instead of the top-down approach where leaders distribute verbal pronouncements (only 7% of what employees retain) about the company and its direction, savvy leaders are working toward having meaningful conversations and taking significant actions. Rather than commands from on high, these leaders are trying to establish conversation-style practices which enable them to talk with their employees and take collaborative actions.
Four Tips on How to Communicate to Improve Employee Engagement
- Get Up Close and Personal
The most engaging employee conversations are based on trust, other-centeredness, and proximity. It may not always be possible for face-to-face interactions, but you can mimic proximity by using technology. And you can create the kind of trust that invites shared dialogue by learning to listen actively, carefully, and respectfully.
The tone should be casual, personal, authentic, and straightforward. If you as a leader come off as overly formal, insincere, or uninterested, you will have missed an opportunity to earn employee trust and higher levels of discretionary effort.
- Encourage Real Dialogue
Authentic conversations go both ways. One speaks, the other responds. Real dialogue requires an interactive exchange and a sharing of comments and questions. Before recent advances in technology, leaders could only communicate in one direction by broadcasting or by distributing information in print.
Now technology can support much more interactive communication which increases engagement as employees feel involved in the company plans and direction. Always plan for two-way dialogues.
- Invite Employee Contribution
Why not ask employees what they would like to discuss and what they would like to know? A true conversation partner should have the opportunity to help co-create the content that matters most.
And to further employees’ sense of engagement, actively encourage them to find ways to participate in telling the company story more fully. Employees who are dedicated to their company’s purpose can be persuasive ambassadors on their own time. Encourage them to share their ideas about how to spread the good news of what your company does and what it’s like to work for you.
- Converse with Meaning
The best conversations have a worthwhile purpose whether to persuade, learn from, or entertain. To be meaningful, the organizational conversation should be clear on purpose. What are you hoping to achieve through the shared communication? What is the topic you want to explore? What does your audience care about most?
Provide structure that keeps the conversation on track even as you encourage widespread participation and feedback.
The Bottom Line
Yes, you will need to cede some control over how the organization is represented to the world if you want to encourage more employee participation in the business of the company. But haven’t technological and cultural changes decreased that control anyway? What you will gain is a greater degree of employee engagement which is significantly to the company’s benefit.
To learn more about how to communicate to improve employee engagement, download 7 of the Best Ways to Increase Employee Engagement through Communication