Communication trends from this year’s ‘best companies to work for’

Reading through the first instalment of the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For guide this week it would be easy to believe that the secret of success must be to incorporate sporting events, charity projects or team away-days into the working week.

Of course who wouldn’t want to work for a company that took you on a weekend in Ibiza, paid for you to develop a hobby or offered free manicures! It’s not at all surprising that people who work here rate the companies as great places to work.

But look behind these headline grabbing initiatives and you will see some rather more realistic and decidedly less sexy practices taking place. Quite clearly this year there is a trend for improved communication which as well as raising employee satisfaction actually improves employee engagement (where employees understand what they need to do, and willingly give their discretionary effort to do it).

The communication trends that are clear this year are that:

Companies are doing more of it –consciously increasing communication during challenging times. They are keeping employees informed through periods of uncertainty and are building trust by being open and honest even when the news is not good. Some have involved employees where cost cutting has been required and this has increased understanding and acceptance of the measures.

Managers are listening –at all levels (line managers as well as senior managers) they listen rather than just tell people what to do. They engage in dialogue, encouraging feedback and ideas – some via structured suggestion schemes, others with more informal brainstorming lunches or inter- departmental breakfasts. These companies recognise that some of the best ideas for improvement can come from those working at the coal face.

Leaders are visible – regularly communicating with employees. Some run breakfast briefings; others use technology such as webcasting. They all offer employees the opportunity to raise their concerns and ask questions no matter how difficult the answers might be.

Employees are being recognised – whether acknowledging a good idea or recognising a job well done, saying thank you reinforces positive behaviours. The act of recognition can be more significant than the actual reward so incentives do not need to be costly – a thank you card, a mention in the company magazine or a profile on the intranet. Some companies offer vouchers, lunch with the boss or even use of a special chair for a month!

Using eye-catching benefits to create workplaces where people want to work will undoubtedly help attract and retain talent. However solid management and communication best practice will really drive employee engagement and reap the business benefits this can bring. You can read more about why employee engagement makes good business sense in our briefing available on our website.

What communication practices do you think make companies better places to work in? Tell us using the comments box below…

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