Home Business Insights & Advice Why employers need to bridge the communication gap with employees before it’s too late

Why employers need to bridge the communication gap with employees before it’s too late

12th Sep 22 11:10 am

At a time when job vacancies continue to rise, successfully retaining existing workforces is proving more vital than ever in a competitive job market. A crucial part of doing so lies in the communication between employer and employees, without which it is impossible for employers to understand employees’ needs and form long-lasting relationships. Managers hoping to retain their teams should be looking at what steps they can take to bridge any communication gaps between themselves and their team members.

According to the latest global survey from The Workforce Institute at UKG, which garnered responses from job leavers and managers in the past two years, 25% of employees admit never discussing frustrations or thoughts of quitting with their manager before they handed in their notice.

The research also found that 91% of employers believed that they had fostered an environment where staff were comfortable communicating frustrations, but when employees were consulted, just 64% of employees said the same of their managers.

In the facilities management industry, many employees will never step foot in an office or interact with their managers face-to-face. Therefore, it’s so important that regular and structured communication is added to everyone’s day-to-day.

Implementing consistent processes to aid enhanced communication

There lies a vital difference between hearing and listening. Hearing without listening can often be the cause of communication gaps and the prevalence of disgruntled employees.

While hearing can be performative, listening involves actively paying attention to feedback and engaging with team members to find solutions that benefit both parties.

It also means understanding employee needs as well as simply any concerns. Doing so will drive better engagement throughout the business. When individuals feel that their needs are being met, they are more likely to maximise their efforts and engage with objectives.

In fact, a research report on trust in the workplace shows that when an employee feels that they are not able to make their thoughts and feelings clear, they are likely to leave their job and seek opportunities elsewhere. This could be devastating for employers, especially at a time when these employees have more opportunities and choices than ever before, and research has proved that workers are more willing than ever to venture into the unknown in search of new challenges in their careers.

Levelling the playing field

It’s important to counteract any inconsistencies in your feedback gathering and communication channels. Even though some employees feel heard by their employer, disparities remain between workers, with some more listened to than others. More junior employees or those from under-represented ethnicities and religions are more likely to feel neglected by their employers.

The next step is ensuring that there are processes in place to garner feedback and input from everyone within the business. An effective way to do this is via anonymised feedback forms that consider opinions without tagging them to an employee at a specific level in the business. These can even be split by role or department and tailored to each team. There is little use in asking the same questions to employees with hugely different day-to-day.

Ideas, suggestions, or concerns are just as valid across all levels of the business. There is no use in only listening to senior staff members who are not spending time on the ground and navigating the same challenges as other employees. Accumulating a more comprehensive range of ideas from multiple sources will offer new ways of thinking and useful perspectives.

Empowering employees with the ability and opportunity to effectively vocalise concerns

Creating opportunities for employees to express their concerns is the first step in listening to them and encouraging employees to be more vocal with their feedback can positively impact their learning and development. In fact, nearly two-thirds (60%) of U.K. employees say trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work and that the perception of low trust hurts their daily effort. Listening to colleagues promotes the sharing of talent across teams.

Furthermore, managers that actively engage in essential matters to aid workers will build stronger connections with their team, earning them respect and building trust.

Implementing both formal and informal processes for communicating with staff can be an effective way to boost employee engagement and increase productivity. This means scheduling regular checks ins both virtually and in person between team members to encourage them to open up about any challenges or issues they may be facing.

Next steps

Positive actions have been taken to reduce this inequity between co-workers, but we still have a long way to go in 2022. Business leaders need to listen carefully to their teams and adapt procedures to meet their expectations. The more diverse range of voices within a workforce, the more likely it is to succeed, but only if everyone knows they are being heard.

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