November, 16 2016

How employee communication needs to change

At a recent enterprise M3 conference, Lucy Adams. MD of Firehouse, founder of Disruptive HR and Ex-HR Director at the BBC called for fundamental changes in employee communications, HR policies and performance management.

Annual staff engagement surveys have changed little

By large, and regardless of the organisation, the annual staff engagement surveys keep coming up with the same results, year after year – we want better communication and better career development. In fifteen years, the stats have not significantly changed according to Lucy.

Annual performance reviews are common place but not delivering

Of the 92% of companies that do annual performance reviews, 360 degrees or not, only 8% say they are worth the time and effort. ‘Can I give you some feedback’ phrases cause an immediate shutdown of the brain receiver, she is convinced.

Policies and all staff emails have no connection with human beings

Company policies and all staff emails written to the lowest common denominator are a manifestation of an indulgent parent, eager to stipulate and rule every single detail. By the time they are vetted by legal etc they are technically accurate but lack any appreciation of human beings.

Dare to try, dare to be different

So what to do instead? Some companies have dared to be different. And if talent is precious to your organisation, you can only gain competitive advantage if you dare to be different.

Instead of a detailed dress code, one company just says: If you look in the mirror before heading to work and look at your attire and wonder ‘if you can get away with this at work today’ then you probably should go and change.

Netflix simplified its expenses policy to simple statement: ‘Do the right thing by Netflix’ and expense claims dropped.

It is all about treating employees as adults.

Human beings like human beings

At the BBC they asked employees who is the person in the organisation that you want to do your best work for, and why – and generally it was because the person knows my name, asks for my opinion, remembers things about my life – in short, they treat me as a human being.

How is work for you?

So instead of an annual staff survey, try asking a number of employees every week ‘how is work for you? How are things going for you? And get the CEO/board to review the answers Lucy suggests. And of course, check out your Glassdoor ratings and reviews – your prospective employees have already done so.

Lucy can be contacted at Disruptive HR and on Twitter @hr_disruptive
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Posted by Johanna Leppanen at 17:53
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