Businesses ignore communications at their peril during times of change

CNW Group

--Timely, honest and open internal communications a predictor of success--

TORONTO , May 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Investors would be wise to look at how well an organization handles employee communications during times of change as a key indicator for success, according to the research findings of Canadian employees. According to the "Build a Better Workplace™ Research Report", a national survey conducted by Canadian Management Centre and Ipsos Reid, communication handled poorly affects employee engagement, retention of high performers, creativity and innovation - ultimately taking a heavy toll on the bottom line.

The impact of poor employee communications
Among the key findings, the research shows that less than half, or only 42 per cent of Canadian employees, agree that change is communicated well in their workplace. Of the majority of Canadian employees who don't feel change is communicated well (58 per cent), only 17 per cent support the direction the organization is going during times of change and only 26 per cent would recommend the organization to others. This is in stark contrast with those employees who say change is communicated well in their workplace: 79 per cent support the direction the organization is going in and 86 per cent will recommend the employer, helping to attract top talent in today's competitive business environment. When the communication of major workplace initiatives is conducted in a timely manner, job satisfaction jumps dramatically to 88 per cent, from an average of 68 per cent. However, when internal communications is not perceived as timely by employees, their job satisfaction drops to 45 per cent.

"These numbers clearly show the effect that both good and bad internal communication during times of change can have on organizational results.  Leadership, both executive and front-line, is the single most important factor impacting employee engagement, especially during organizational transition," said John Wright , president and managing director, Canadian Management Centre.  "Therefore, it's imperative that organizational leaders understand how to adapt their approach to align, involve and satisfy their employees to not only manage the scope of the change, but to have a positive impact on engagement and performance."

Gen Xers: more critical and sceptical
Among the generations, Gen X is the most critical demographic segment to judge how well managers handle rumours and messaging: 41 per cent say they do a poor job, as compared to the Canadian average of 34 per cent. They also have a lower opinion of how well managers involve employees in solving business problems: 51 per cent compared to the average of 55 per cent. Interestingly, Millennials are the most satisfied with how their managers encourage new ideas and promote a culture of creativity and innovation, at 61 per cent, above the Canadian average of 58 per cent.

According to Mr. Wright , leaders today are faced with an increased urgency to deal with change brought on by economic instability, demographic shifts in the workforce, evolving customer demands and a heightened focus on innovation. These factors are all in turn driving organizations to be more agile, with a recognition that building an engaged workforce relies heavily on leadership behaviour and communication.

What business leaders need to do?
Based on these findings, Mr. Wright says the top three suggestions for leaders during times of change are to:

  1. Get in front of it.  Effective change leadership is about being proactive.  Leaders need to anticipate employee response(s) to the change and consider what (if any) resistance they may face.  From there, leaders can proactively plan strategies to build commitment and buy-in for the change, while maintaining employee engagement.
  2. Help employees understand.  Naturally, when change occurs, an employee is going to be asking 'how is this going to impact me?'  It is the role of the leader to help employees understand the 'what' and 'why' of change.  Leaders need to align on key messages to keep employees informed of what (exactly) is changing, why it's important and/or necessary to the business, and what the impact will be on them.
  3. Encourage employee involvement.  While we need to answer the 'what' and 'why' of the change, it is important to encourage input from employees on the 'how'.  People want to be asked to provide feedback and they want their ideas to be considered.  Involvement is a key component of employee engagement.  When it comes to change, involving employees early in the process can reduce anxiety, will help facilitate their understanding of the change (so they buy-in faster), and can often lead to new and creative ideas for how to achieve desired results.

"Engaging employees will guarantee success in implementing change.  But doing it early will increase employee readiness to embrace it," said Mr. Wright .

About the Build a Better Workplace Survey
The Build a Better Workplace™ survey was completed by 1,200 Canadian employees from Millennials to Traditionalists across 15 diverse sectors -- including banking, health and social work and government. In addition, almost 500 human resources professionals were surveyed as part of the research to compare findings. Questions explored employee perceptions of their work environment, their relationship with their boss, whether social media has impacted how companies need to communicate, and how well leaders inspire innovation and creativity.

"The Build a Better Workplace Report highlights why employee engagement is much more than a 'job satisfaction' survey. This report provides organizations with a model of engagement that is empirically based. It shows the importance of clear, simple communication in the workplace and how it impacts employee perception of organizational change," said Trevor Clarke , vice president, Ipsos Reid.

Canadian Management Centre is hosting a series of sessions across Canada to share the survey's key findings with senior business leaders, human resources, organizational development and talent management professionals.  The National Thought Leader Series takes place in Montreal , Ottawa , Toronto and Calgary , this May.

Methodology
The survey was conducted between July 31 and August 17, 2012 , and a sample of 1,200 Canadians from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online, in addition to nearly 500 human resource professionals. If the average Canadian sample had been probabilistic, a sample of this size results would be considered accurate to within ±2.8 percentage points at the 95 per cent confidence interval.  Similarly, results for the smaller Human Resources sample would be considered accurate to within ±4.4 percentage points at the same 95 per cent confidence interval.

About Ipsos Reid
Ipsos is one of the world's leading survey-based marketing research firms with offices in 84 countries. Since 1975 Ipsos has been delivering insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. Over the past decade Ipsos has helped organizations align loyalty and engagement with feedback from employees and consumers. Ipsos research clearly shows that best performing organizations are characterized by strategic and cultural alignment: staff efforts and willingness to 'go the extra mile' are oriented in the same direction, which contributes to the achievement of corporate goals.

Ipsos helps organizations improve employee commitment to your vision, mission, and strategy while measuring staff expectations because in high-performance environments, expectations are taken into consideration and acted upon. To learn more, please visit www.ipsos.ca.

About Canadian Management Centre
Established in 1963, Canadian Management Centre is Canada's leading premier talent transformation company, helping organizations and leaders outperform in the workplace by delivering real-life, award- winning corporate learning and professional development solutions. Training takes place right across Canada including Vancouver , Calgary , Edmonton , Regina, Winnipeg , Mississauga, Toronto , Montreal and Halifax . Its annual National Thought Leader Series brings value-added ideas with insightful and innovative sessions on employee engagement delivered by subject matter experts. Canadian Management Centre is a strategic affiliate of the American Management Association International - a world leader in professional development advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success.  To register or for more information about the "Build a Better Workplace Research Report", visit: http://www.cmcoutperform.com/keeping-your-employees-engaged-event. Follow on Twitter: @CanadianMgmt #CMCevents or call 1-877-262-2500 for general inquiries.

MEDIA INQUIRIES:  To RSVP for the National Thought Leaders Series events, schedule an interview or for additional information, please contact Susan Willemsen , Anita Boudreau or Alexandra Muszynski-Kwan at The Siren Group Inc.  Tel:  (416) 461-5270.  Email:  alexandra@thesirengroup.com.

KEEPING EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN TIMES OF CHANGE

  • How are companies doing when it comes to communicating change?

    Less than half of Canadian employees agree (42 per cent) that change is communicated well within their workplace.

    When employees feel that change is communicated well they are more likely to support the direction the workplace is heading (79 per cent) and are also likely to recommend the organization to others as a good place to work.  However when employees do not feel that change is communicated well, advocacy suffers with fewer recommending the organization and a clear reluctance to support the direction of the organization (17 per cent).

    Change is communicated well (Agree 42 per cent, Neutral 27 per cent, Disagree 30 per cent).

    Among those who Agree (42 per cent), 79 per cent Support the direction of the workplace is heading and 86 per cent would recommend the employer.

    Among those who Disagree (30 per cent), 17 per cent Support the direction of the workplace is heading and 26 per cent would recommend the employer.

  • How well are organizations doing at managing the message?

    With respect to workplace changes, 35 per cent of Canadian employees feel that senior leaders do a good job managing misinformation (rumours, gossip, etc.).

    With respect to workplace changes, 34 per cent of Canadian employees feel that senior leaders are not doing good job managing misinformation (rumours, gossip, etc.).

    Gen Xers are the most likely at 41 per cent to believe that senior leaders do a poor job of managing misinformation.

    Smaller organizations do a better job with 40 per cent of employees agreeing that senior leaders do a good job of managing misinformation. Very large organization (those with more than 1,000 employees) are less effective when it comes to managing communications with just 31 per cent of employees agreeing that misinformation is handled well.
  • What is the impact on employee satisfaction in the workplace during times of change?

    68 per cent of Canadian employees report that they are satisfied with their job. When communication of major workplace initiatives is perceived as timely, job satisfaction increases to 88 per cent, whereas among those who do not perceive such communications as being timely, their job satisfaction decreases to 45 per cent.
  • How are managers doing when it comes to keeping employees informed?  And what is the impact on productivity?

    Six in ten Canadian employees feel that their manager (the person they report to) does a good job keeping them informed about the things they need to know.

    Among those who feel that their manager keeps them informed (60 per cent) we find that they are more motivated to excel (81 per cent vs. 68 per cent on average) and more likely to feel that their team does a good job fulfilling commitments (83 per cent vs. 72 per cent on average).

    Among those who do not feel that their manager keeps them informed we find that they are less motivated to excel (44 per cent vs. 68 per cent on average) and more likely to feel that their team is not fulfilling commitments (56 per cent vs. 72 per cent on average).
  • How well are our Canadian managers performing in inspiring creativity and innovation in the workplace?

    79 per cent of Canadian employees say that they are contributing 'above and beyond' their job description to help their workplace succeed, which would indicate a desire to make a difference in the workplace.
  • Are our managers tapping into their employees' creative abilities and using their ideas to make improvements/progress in the workplace?

    Only 55 per cent of Canadian employees feel that their manager is willing to try new ways of doing business.

    Gen X is least likely to agree at 51 per cent and could feel that recommendations are not being adopted.  This is least true in very large organizations (51 per cent agree compared to 62 per cent in large and 60 per cent in medium-sized organizations).

    Only 58 per cent of Canadian employees feel that their manager encourages new ideas.  Traditionalists are least likely to agree at 51 per cent and Gen Y most likely to agree at 61 per cent.
  • How well are our Canadian organizations doing in retaining their best talent?

    Only 37 per cent of Canadian employees agree that their workplace is good at retaining the best staff.  That presents a big risk during times of change and Canadian organizations stand to lose a lot of knowledge and expertise with employee departures. Competitors can lure top talent away and stand to gain in this environment.

    An engaged workforce can have a strong positive impact in creating customer loyalty which can result in increased revenue and profitability as well as improved shareholder value.

    This service-value-profit chain concept connects the relationship between an enabled an engaged workforce to improvements in innovation, productivity, quality and enhanced service which leads to increased customer loyalty resulting in increased revenue and profitability for their organization.

    The following data underscores that there's room for improvement in developing the SVPC in order to reap the rewards of the resulting increase in customer loyalty.
  • Do Canadian employees have the necessary information and authority to address customer concerns to enable them to effectively do their job and respond to their customers' needs?

    Only 57 per cent of Canadian employees feel that they are empowered to do what is needed to satisfy their customers.

    Only 54 per cent of Canadian employees agree that organizational messages to customers are clear.

    Only 53 per cent of Canadian employees feel that their company provides them with the information they need to answer customer concerns.

SOURCE: Canadian Management Centre

Contact:

MEDIA INQUIRIES:  For additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact Susan Willemsen, Anita Boudreau or Alexandra Muszynski-Kwan at The Siren Group Inc.  Tel:  (416) 461-5270.  Email:  alexandra@thesirengroup.com.

View Comments