It’s no secret that employees are disconnected from their work in vast numbers.
Aon Hewitt made that clear with its 2017 global analysis of more than five million employees, which found only 24% are highly engaged at work. Gallup’s figures are even more alarming: a mere 15% of employees worldwide (and just 33% of U.S. employees) are engaged.
The solutions for bridging the employee engagement gap are clear. We need to do a better job of putting people in the right roles, assigning them truly meaningful work, and investing in the development of our leaders and managers so they inspire greater performance from their teams.
However, one solution to the engagement problem seems to be often overlooked: two-way communication between leaders and employees at all levels of the organization. The power of open and frequent communication can absolutely transform your company.
Align and Energize People Behind Your Mission
Successful leaders communicate often about the company’s mission and values. They also invite honest feedback and answer questions. This free and open exchange aligns and energizes employees, makes the company’s mission “real” to everyone, and helps them understand how they contribute to it.
Chief Executive magazine interviewed a number of senior leaders who have an extraordinary commitment to communicating with employees and modeling what they want from them. Bob Leduc, President of Pratt & Whitney, told the magazine, “I am a firm believer that my job is to define the culture we want, model the culture we want and nourish the culture we want.” According to 7-Eleven’s CEO, Joe DePinto, “You’ve got to be around. You’ve got to be visible; it’s important in all businesses, and certainly in our franchise business. Franchisees have to know that the leadership is available. So, we are very open, very available, very accessible.”
Include Employees in Strategic Initiatives
Effective leaders also communicate the company’s strategic initiatives to the organization in clear, simple terms. This ensures everyone understands where the business is headed, why, and how she or he can contribute. In addition, it helps employees better prepare for changes in the company’s direction and possibly in their work. When they understand the rationale behind your initiatives, they’re able to embrace change rather than resist it.