Talking is the key to shiny, happy workers

Nov 22 2004 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Communication, communication, communication is the best way to keep staff happy, loyal and engaged, a study has concluded.

An office beset by rumour, whispers around the coffee machine and distant management is likely to be staffed by workers who are both disgruntled and dissatisfied, according to the survey by IRS Employment Review.

But the good news is that eight out of 10 employers say they are committed to engaging and communicating with their staff.

Nearly eight out of 10 employers – 78 per cent – in the poll of 81 organisations had made improving internal communication their top priority, said the publication.

Almost two thirds (63 per cent) identified the relationship between staff and managers as the most significant in the workplace in terms of its impact on employee satisfaction and commitment.

By comparison, consultation with unions got a lowly four per cent. Throwing money at the problem by increasing wages was seen as important by four out of 10 of those polled.

The survey also found more than half – 52 per cent – thought their employees were generally happy and loyal, with one in 10 reporting “exceptionally good” relations.

More than four out of 10 said their employment relationship had improved over the past 12 months, while less than a fifth said it had worsened.

One in five had had problems with staff dissatisfaction, but had taken action to address it, while fewer than one in five admitted to being concerned about the state of their employment relationship.

This generally optimistic state of affairs is all the more surprising considering the fact that almost half of those polled (42 per cent) said their organisation had undergone a major change in the past year, commonly a restructuring, change in ownership or redundancy programme.

IRS Employment Review managing editor Mark Crail said the survey showed that good staff relationships were more than simply having a happy workforce.

“Engaged employees are the ones who always do that little bit more, go that little bit further, to make their organisation a success - and employers will only get people to do that by genuinely involving people in decisions.”

He added: “The initiatives used for keeping staff onside tend to focus on keeping staff informed, improving training and development and - to some extent - listening to staff opinion. When employers adopt these practices, they find their staff are responsive and flexible - ideal circumstances to keep an organisation competitive.”