Ian Cowley reveals some low-cost ways of connecting better with your employees.
It’s really important that you find effective ways to communicate with your staff. Buy-in from them is key to productivity and to keeping a loyal workforce; after all, you’ve invested in their development, now you want them to stay!
Unfortunately the bigger you become, the harder it is. If you fail to rise to this challenge though, you’ll end up with a resentful workforce motivated purely by their salary, rather than driven by the overall success of the company.
This was a dilemma we faced just over a year ago; while the company was booming, morale was in decline because, while the senior management were completely in the loop on all our plans for the future and where and why money was being invested, the majority felt in the dark. We weren’t making the effort to share news with them and as a result they rightly felt unconnected from the decisions we were making and the direction the company – and their future – was taking.
Here are the key things we did to rectify the situation.
Physically unifying the workforce
This is perhaps not an option for everyone from either an operational or budgetary perspective. However one of the best decisions we made for boosting morale was to bring our team into one office. Previously we had kept the warehouse separate from our customer service and management teams from a cost point of view; we couldn’t afford a space big enough at the time. Unfortunately it fostered an ‘us vs them’ atmosphere exacerbated by the fact we struggled to effectively split our time between the two sites. Fortunately cash flow has meant we are able to afford a bigger site. As a result bringing everyone together has developed a greater sense of team spirit. What’s more people can communicate face-to-face rather than risk things being lost in translation over email or phone.
A newsletter – written for the team, by the team
There are reasons why there are communication awards for newsletters. When well executed they are extremely effective. Through trial and error we have hit on a formula that works for us. Firstly we make sure ours is relevant – and for this to be true, we need the content to reflect the voices of all our staff. Therefore each month we ask all our heads of department to contribute news from their teams so the company newsletter reports on every part of the business, recognising the importance of every cog in the wheel.
Secondly we ensure it’s easily accessible. We print off copies as well emailing the copy around. That way the warehouse staff can get their hands on it, when often they’re not at a computer. Thirdly we publish an update on our overall company KPIs on the front. It’s a sign that we realise that everyone, from the bottom up, is working towards the success of the business and are valued enough to have access to this ‘bottom line’ information.
Ask for feedback
Be brave and bite the bullet – ask your employees’ feedback.
Find a way of allowing people to submit them anonymously for the most honest comments,. You can find ways to do this yourself to save money but we use a service called tinyPULSE, an online tool that not only collates comments but also allows us to see how we rate against similar companies of a similar size and type.