How to Communicate Successfully During a Corporate Reorganization

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. “- Charles Darwin, Origin of Species.2

In our changing world, corporate reorganizations result in centralization or decentralization measures based on business needs. Although not always a negative change, when employees hear the term “reorg” they immediately equate it with layoffs and presume the worst. This is a reminder that communicating change clearly and frequently while setting expectations for ongoing communications can prevent incorrect assumptions and rumors. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Carefully select the spokesperson and how the change will be communicated. Choose someone who is not only senior enough but also respected by employees. In the announcement, focus on the needs of the employees and cover the questions they likely will ask their manager or a fellow colleague. Only discussing the corporate rationale for the change is limiting. Some standard examples are: Why is this happening? When will it happen? Who will I report to? Are there more changes ahead?
  2. Ensure there is two-way communication. The biggest mistake some companies make is to deliver the change without offering an opportunity for employees to ask questions on an ongoing basis. It may be helpful to establish an email address or a Q&A box to receive questions. Then, share the answers publicly with employees as some may be wondering the same thing, but are afraid to ask. After some time has passed, conduct an employee survey and commit to sharing the results, even if they are negative, along with an action plan to address the results.
  3. Communicate often. Successful reorgs require more than a one-time communication. “You need to treat people with respect and dignity, being transparent and telling them what is happening and when. You need to keep communicating with people. The biggest mistake is to communicate once and think you are done.”3 In addition to a big announcement, companies should equip managers with information to use during their smaller department meetings that discuss the specifics for that group. This will give employees a better understanding of what it means for their role.

I have worked with numerous companies undergoing a variety of changes for many years. The successful ones work in advance of the announcement to prepare several layers of leadership in order to keep their staff engaged. You don’t need all the answers, but transparency will earn you loyalty in the long term.

What communications practices would you propose to a company undergoing a reorganization?

 

Sources:
1 – http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reorganization-without-tears
2 – http://www.consultparagon.com/blog/change-management-success-frequent-communication
3 – https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-two-biggest-communication-blunders-during-a-reorg
4 – https://www.cebglobal.com/blogs/communicating-during-org-structure-changes/

By | 2017-07-27T00:58:35+00:00 July 26th, 2017|Culture, Employee Engagement|0 Comments

The Significance of Strong Communication for Corporate Wellness Initiatives

“The problem with communications is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” ~George Bernard Shaw

Wellness is one of the biggest buzzwords in corporations these days. Companies recognize that healthy employees have a positive impact on recruitment, retention and productivity. However, more time usually is spent on developing the program compared with communicating the initiative. Often an afterthought, it’s one of the most vital elements of a program’s success. “A flawed plan well communicated is better than a perfect plan poorly communicated.“1

As I discussed on a recent blog post “Essential Tips for Successfully Communicating Change”, clear and transparent ongoing communications are essential to build engagement, pride and trust in the company and its leadership. A one-time communication will not evoke change. You must share information across mediums in a consistent way. If you choose to create a culture of health, you will need to:

  • Discover what’s important to your employees,
  • Create a program that combines their interests and yours,
  • Implement initiatives in a phased approach, and
  • Sustain participation and grow according to feedback

A successful wellness communication plan will foster an organizational commitment to employee health and engagement.

Wellness Communications

(Estimated percentage of time per phase)

1) Discover

In the discovery phase, you need to explore what might incent employees to participate and why the workplace offers a convenient outlet aligned with individual health goals. Then, ask your core planning team a few key questions: What’s our definition of wellness? What needs to change about our current program? Why is this a priority now? Who will benefit and why? What role does wellness play, or would we like it to play, in our culture?

To match your intentions with employees’ interests and goals, “consider holding a half-hour roundtable discussion, or simply exchanging emails, to learn more about what kind of information (and delivery methods) they’d find most useful.”2 In general, using multiple mediums (meetings, postal mail, email, intranet, eBoard, posters and table tents) is important in any communications plan because everyone absorbs information differently.

2) Create

With the data you’ve collected, you’ll want to develop objectives, strategies and positioning. Brainstorming on the name, logo and tagline for your program could be a team effort or company competition. You’ll also want to develop launch kit components, keeping in mind that one size won’t fit all.

3) Implement

In order to effectively communicate the wellness program, it’s best to start with encouragement from executives and line managers, who support and embrace participation. Then a good next step is to host a kickoff celebration and related events that support the campaign. For ongoing communications, keep the messages direct with actionable items included. “More companies and communities are realizing the antidote is a one-two combination — brevity and clarity.”1

4) Sustain

The most common mistake I see companies make is limiting wellness communications to the launch of the program. One way to maintain visibility is to recognize and celebrate success: “Employee success stories should be highlighted and shared to help motivate others to make lifestyle changes.”3 In addition, companies should continue talking to employees about how the program is evolving, creating measurable milestones, and building additional stages of the program that grow along with your culture.

Following these four steps is vital to the success of your wellness program, so feel free to contact me if you’d like help in this area.

Sources:
1- http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/worksite-wellness/truths-to-boost-your-wellness-communication/
2 – https://www.hopehealth.com/starting-an-employee-communication-strategy-where-to-begin/
3 – https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/planning/communications.html

By | 2017-05-24T18:21:47+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Culture, Employee Engagement|0 Comments

How to Keep the Peace in the Office During Political Unrest

“According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, more than 1 in 4 employees have been negatively affected by discussions about the election at work, and are divided along gender and generational lines.” (Source: Aberdeen Essentials)

With so many Americans uncomfortable and unsettled about the future of the country, how much is it impacting what’s happening in the workplace? Do you feel the tension or see more arguments? Is the political situation impacting productivity? Are employees so distracted by the noise that they are responding as if it were an internal change and engagement suffers? I’m sure the answers to a few of these questions are YES.politics

As a Human Resources professional, how can you help reduce the impact of the current situation on your organization? “According to a recent study conducted by the Society of Human Resources, only a third of companies have a formal strategy in place for dealing with these situations.”1 As I’ve discussed in prior blog posts, any time there is fear, uncertainty and doubt, the best thing to do is over communicate with employees. In the “Identifying Hidden Bias” post, “Even those of us who intend to be or think we are inclusive cast judgment based on race, age, gender and disabilities.” Now, this may extend to differences in political perspectives.

Here are some tips for how to help keep your company’s productivity up and keep bias out of the workplace:

  1. Remind employees to be respectful and non-judgmental about their coworkers’ opinions.
  2. Communicate what conversations and behavior are tolerated in your workplace.
  3. Make sure the culture invites people to speak their minds appropriately and feel safe requesting help dealing with uncomfortable situations.
  4. Suggest that employees “know their audience” before making political jokes If you don’t know your audience, you don’t know how it will be received, so err on the side of caution.
  5. Managers should be particularly careful expressing their opinions due to the unequal relationship. Set the tone from the top by making sure managers respect the views of others.2

Have you seen productivity declining given the political unrest? Do you have any other suggestions for how to minimize the impact? Let me know. 

Sources:
1 – http://www.aberdeenessentials.com/hcm-essentials/workplace-culture-productivity-aftermath-election/
2 – https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/office-politics.aspx

By | 2017-05-24T18:21:47+00:00 March 6th, 2017|Culture, Diversity, Employee Engagement|0 Comments

Essential Tips for Successfully Communicating Change

“When change initiatives fail, the culprit is often a lack of communication.” (Source: Torbenrick)

Due to fear or a prior negative experience, many people are uncomfortable with change. However, without change, there cannot be growth. Those embracing transitions know that frequent and transparent communications can make it manageable.

Since the team implementing the initiative may be overwhelmed with other details, having a communications expert focused on messaging, timing and execution can be beneficial. Based on experience, here are some of the guiding principles:

  1. Communicate throughout the process. Many companies wait until everything is final and ready to be announced, but that can be problematic. It’s better to bring employees along throughout the process, so they can absorb the information in smaller pieces and over time. Then, when the final announcement is made, people are ready to act as you intended.
  2. Test your messaging. “At all levels of the organization, the employee’s direct supervisor has the most influence over what people hear and respond to.” 2 Practicing your messaging on selected employees representing a variety of Change is a Processlevels/functions first will offer insight into how the news will be received. These employees also may become champions for your message and invaluable in helping others digest the information. Think about your various audiences and how the change will affect each one differently.
  3. Use a variety of delivery methods. Everyone has a preferred method for comprehending information. Some may favor meetings with the opportunity to ask questions in the moment and others want to read an email or newsletter article with more time to process. It’s important to vary the ways in which you communicate, keeping in mind that the message must be presented clearly, authentically and with integrity.
  4. Engage an internal resource or consultant. The earlier you involve a communications person in the process, the more likely you will reap effective results. As experts, they will ask insightful questions for both content and timing. Trying to “catch someone up later” might be a lost opportunity.
  5. Be transparent. It is not essential to have all the answers before sharing information. Including your employees in the process is a humbling way of building their overall trust and will yield a more productive result.

Change is inevitable. You can manage it with clear and transparent communications or get managed by it. Since one-time messages seldom are retained, developing a strategy that engages a variety of mediums for a period of time can be much more effective. These efforts will build engagement, pride and trust in the company and its leadership.

 

Sources:

1 – http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/06/19312.html
2 – http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/communication-is-paramount-when-it-comes-to-change-management/
3 – http://humanresources.about.com/od/changemanagement/a/change_lessons2.htm

By | 2017-05-24T18:21:47+00:00 June 13th, 2016|Culture, Employee Engagement|0 Comments

7 Ways to Help Employees Reduce Workplace Stress

“Stress-related health care and missed work are costing employers $300 billion a year.” (Source: Inc.com)

Some stress at work is expected, but an extended or frequent amount can impact employees’ professional performance and personal wellbeing. Since tension can manifest in different ways (headaches, stomach problems, weight gain, irritability), it’s not always outwardly recognizable. While stress management ultimately is the employee’s responsibility, there are many ways an employer can help alleviate the pressure:

  1. Exercise. An onsite gym adds the convenience factor for employees. Or, you could form lunch time walking groups, communicate “fit break” ideas for desk space, encourage “walking meetings,” or map out a walking route inside the building with calculated mileage.
  2. Sleep. Remind employees about the impact of rest on healthy brain function.workplace stress image
  3. Prioritize. Encourage an open dialogue between managers and staff to discuss conflicting assignments.
  4. Flexible. Employees deliver higher quality work when they’re not required to be in the office for a set amount of hours. Acknowledging that some personal matters need to occur during the work day will result in committed staff.
  5. Meditate. Not only is meditation “relaxing, but what scientists also are discovering is that it actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, essentially rewiring the body to stress less.”2 Providing a meditation room in the office may provide employees with a quiet space to reflect on work or personal matters.
  6. Communicate. Alerting employees frequently about company news, initiatives or transitions alleviates anxiety or speculation, which often diminishes productivity.
  7. Convenience.   Spending many hours working leaves little time for external development. Bring learning, benefit and self-care programs inside your company to improve employee lifestyles and create informal connections.

Often the best companies to work for integrate wellness programs into their benefits package. This is not only health-related offerings (gym, flu shot, on-site massage), but also company-sponsored events that facilitate employee communication. Both provide opportunities for staff to share ideas or inspire each other in unexpected ways.

How do you reduce workplace stress?

Source:

1 – http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-at-work.htm
2 – http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/10-cheap-ways-to-reduce-employee-stress.html

 

By | 2017-05-24T18:21:48+00:00 March 2nd, 2016|Culture, Employee Engagement|0 Comments

Driving Engagement with Communications

“Effective communication between management and employees creates greater employee engagement, and that communication is a leading indicator of organizational financial performance.” (Source: Workplace Mental Health)

I recently attended a Chamber of Commerce event because employee engagement was the topic. I’m always looking for new ideas Engaged workplacethat can be shared with my clients for retaining top talent. It was no surprise that the presenters agreed that many companies these days overlook the value of involving their staff in these decisions.

Companies on the cutting edge of driving engagement are starting to take a 360-degree view that includes the employees’ lives at work and beyond work. This way, benefits and activities are targeted toward fostering collaboration, adding fun and respecting how much time is spent on work. Some organizations have created culture committees comprised of diverse employees dedicated to proposing ideas that create value in a meaningful way while remaining within the company’s budget. The concept of “by the people, for the people” keeps each organization unique as well as committed to remaining current.

Some ideas shared by Trip Advisor, Chapman Construction and Social Made Simple panelists included:

  • Wellness services on and off site
  • Shuttle service from public transportation (one even includes spin bikes!)
  • Quarterly family outings
  • Buddy systems with new and seasoned employees
  • Playing fun music in the stairways for health and collaboration
  • Affinity groups to form connections
  • Community service days
  • “Hall pass” to leave at noon on any day as a recognition/reward
  • Lunches fostering cross-functional collaboration
  • Dog-friendly environment

Remember that motivators go beyond financial incentives. Utilizing communications about initiatives underway and why they were selected improves involvement. The ultimate gain are loyal and connected employees.

What might you try to improve your company’s engagement strategies? How has communications helped? 

By | 2017-05-24T18:21:48+00:00 January 11th, 2016|Employee Engagement|0 Comments

Keeping Virtual Employees Engaged

“63 million Americans will work remotely by 2016–more than a third of the total work force.” (Source: Inc.com)

Flexible hours, increased efficiency and reduced space requirements keep productivity high and costs low for companies with remote workers. While there are benefits for both individuals and the company, remote workers often miss the “water cooler” conversations, including quick hallway decisions, team building and learning opportunities.

In order to make this a strong, productive relationship it is essential to prepare a focused communication plan until the exchange of information occurs frequently and naturally. Consider utilizing a mixture of these options:

  1. Host quarterly, all-employee meetings to connect staff from various geographies. This is an opportunity to share information simultaneously and field live questions. Varying the site where the presenters initiate the meeting builds engagement as well.Remote Workers
  2. Hold an annual or bi-annual face-to-face meeting at the team, department site or company level. The investment in interpersonal connections will pay off longer term in outcome and loyalty.
  3. Define goals and objectives clearly in order to measure progress equitably. Communicate high-level goals and contributions during staff meetings so effectiveness is transparent. This is particularly beneficial when there are team members in multiple locations.
  4. Increase training opportunities by investing in professional development courses for remote workers or schedule on-site trainings as needed.
  5. Be mindful about including remote workers in ad-hoc meetings or connect with them immediately after a group session while the information is fresh. Inc.com reminds us to “resist the temptation to leave remote workers out of quickly scheduled ad-hoc meetings because it’s too much of a bother to let them know–you should have a quick and easy means of communication.”1
  6. Utilize the company intranet as a source or broad and quick communications. Keep it current, engaging and interactive so that it’s a frequently visited resource.

All relationships take work, particularly in the form of transparent and two-way communications. Managers who embrace the power of virtual employees will get more innovation, loyalty and company ambassadors in return.

What other communication strategies have you used to engage remote workers and incorporate them into a solid team?

Source:
1 – http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/what-do-remote-workers-do-all-day-6-ways-to-keep-them-engaged-and-productive.html
By | 2017-05-24T18:21:48+00:00 November 9th, 2015|Culture, Diversity, Employee Engagement|0 Comments