An elevated view of a group of employees in an office boardroom using different methods of communication.
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How a bad communications strategy at work affects employees

12 Apr 2019

Communication from leadership in Ireland is low, with nearly 45pc of employees saying their CEO actively discourages them from dropping into their office.

A new report shows that almost half of employees have had fewer than five interactions with their CEO in the last year, while a third say their CEO doesn’t even know their name.

The PR360 CEO Communications Report 2019 highlights how well Irish CEOs communicate with their staff – and the results aren’t good.

The research carried out in partnership with Amárach Research found that nearly 45pc of Irish employees say their CEO isn’t visible to staff and even discourages employees from dropping into their office. Having this kind of culture subtly embedded can stand in the way of innovative ideas, as 40pc of employees say they don’t feel comfortable approaching their CEO with a new business idea.

Although CEOs appreciate the basic value of communication, the report shows that few have any proper communications strategy in place. Naturally, the vast majority of employees surveyed feel that regular company-wide communication from the CEO is good for morale and productivity.

In spite of this, 46pc say they have had fewer than five interactions, including email, with their company’s most senior person in the last 12 months.

Not only do employees not feel able to go to their CEO, but communication in the other direction is just as bad. A staggering 38pc of employees say they’ve heard at least one story about their company in the media before it was announced internally. While 40pc of employers later provided a formal explanation, employees said 43pc provided an unsatisfactory one and almost 20pc remained completely silent on the matter.

PR360’s managing director, Dan Pender, said knowing how to effectively communicate internally and externally is a CEO’s most powerful asset.

“The best employees value good leadership and direction. When the CEO doesn’t lead or avoids dealing with challenges and crises, these employees grow disillusioned and look elsewhere for work,” he said.

How to improve your internal communication

Earlier this year, I spoke to group head of communications and engagement at Irish Life, Caroline Collins. She said that a successful internal communications strategy is vital to a positive employee experience, and it is that positive experience that will keep your best staff engaged and loyal.

“It’s about how the business communicates with and to you. Do you work in a place where it’s OK to ask the tough questions and, importantly, expect honest answers? Do you trust senior management to make the right call – even under pressure and when it’s a tough decision? Can you speak up?”

For CEOs who want to buck this worrying trend, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, successful communication goes both ways. It’s not just about you communicating to your staff, it’s about creating an environment and culture where they feel they can speak up, share ideas and have opinions that will be valued.

Secondly, your staff must feel like they’re in the loop when it comes to company strategies, big-picture goals and other important things that are going on in the company. When it comes to crisis management, ask yourself how you’d like to find out a story about the company you work for. I can guarantee it wouldn’t be in the paper or on Twitter.

Lastly, don’t shy away from online communication tools. Meetings can be helpful for some situations but they’re not always the most effective way of communicating a message. Consider newsletters or tools such as Slack to improve your internal communication.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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