Managers and Employees Differ on Frequency and Quality of Workplace Communication

Oct. 6, 2009
Managers say they are communicating better and more often with their employees now versus 1 year ago, a new survey shows. Unfortunately, their teams may not be getting the memo.

Sixty-nine percent of executives interviewed said messages to employees have become more frequent, and 56 percent believed communication is of higher quality. Yet, only 37 percent of workers polled agreed there’s been a boost in the rate of corporate updates, and only 38 percent felt information has improved.

The surveys were conducted by an independent research firm and are based on telephone interviews with 150 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies, and 493 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

Executives and workers were asked, “How would you say the quantity of communication from management to employees at your company has changed in the past 12 months?” Their responses:

Executives:
• Increased significantly – 25 percent
• Increased somewhat – 44 percent
• No change – 20 percent
• Decreased somewhat – 1 percent
• Decreased significantly – 0 percent
• Don’t know/no answer – 1 percent

Workers:
• Increased significantly – 13 percent
• Increased somewhat – 24 percent
• No change – 52 percent
• Decreased somewhat – 5 percent
• Decreased significantly – 4 percent
• Don't know/no answer – 2 percent

Executives and workers also were asked, “How would you say the quality of communication from management to employees at your company has changed in the past 12 months?” Their responses:

Executives:
• Improved significantly – 19 percent
• Improved somewhat – 37 percent
• No change – 41 percent
• Declined somewhat – 1 percent
• Declined significantly – 0 percent
• Don't know/no answer – 2 percent

Workers:
• Improved significantly –14 percent
• Improved somewhat – percent 24 percent
• No change – 47 percent
• Declined somewhat – 9 percent
• Declined significantly – 4 percent
• Don’t know/no answer – 2 percent

“During times of change, companies must be able to share information quickly and often,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “The good news, in light of this difficult economy, is that most employers have increased staff outreach. What is less encouraging is that this communication may not be as effective as it could be.”

Hosking noted that clear and timely communication will be especially valuable as businesses prepare for the upturn. “Managers who provide regular updates and encourage open discussions help employees better understand the company’s overall goals and their own role in helping to achieve these objectives,” Hosking said. “Frequent communication also can aid retention efforts, which will become a greater focus for employers as the job market improves.”

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