As an employer, effective communication is key to running a successful organization. Whether discussing job duties, explaining HR policies, or outlining a benefits package, it’s important that there’s a clear line of communication between employers and employees. Open communication encourages higher quality work, understanding of important policies, and a relationship of trust between employers and employees. In addition, an open-door environment can even promote employee retention, helping save employers thousands of dollars per employee.
In this article, we’ll provide six tips for employers and HR managers to ensure an open and honest line of communication.
1. Enact an open door policy
One way to foster communication is to enact an open door policy. This creates a culture where employees are comfortable going to management for questions and support, but only if the employer really means it. Employees can tell if it’s just for show. An open door policy should also allow and encourage employees to provide candid feedback. This helps employers keep an eye on potential concerns while establishing with employees that they are cared about.
2. Encourage feedback
Not only should employees feel comfortable with providing unprompted feedback, but employers should also ask for feedback directly. This is especially vital when implementing a new program or policy within your company. Ask employees direct and specific questions. Be sure they understood the message that was delivered and that all concerns are addressed. Once you’ve gotten feedback, use it to improve your future strategies. There may be a time where an employer receives feedback that doesn’t make sense to act on. If this is the case, employers should communicate with employees about why their feedback wasn’t implemented so they don’t feel ignored.
3. Establish ground rules
Different employees will have different communication preferences. Depending on the information being communicated, employers may choose to take a different approach with each employee or apply the same process with everyone. Regardless of how and when communication happens, it’s important to establish expectations at the start. Determine whether there will be daily check-ins, weekly status updates, or monthly meetings. Once you have a communication plan, make sure everyone is aware of the expectations.
4. Ensure confidentiality
Helping employees with issues like personal concerns, healthcare benefits, and HR policies and procedures requires a great deal of trust between employers and employees. It’s vital to show sensitivity to what your employees are going through while validating their concerns. Making employees feel safe and comfortable about coming to you with any concerns they have is important in fostering a relationship of honesty and trust.
5. Use the right tools
Email and messaging apps like Slack make it easy to quickly circulate information through your company. It can be difficult, though, to know if employees have read a message, and Slack messages can easily get buried. If there is something important to communicate to employees, it may be best to schedule a meeting, too.
6. Be direct
Don’t beat around the bush or try to sugarcoat when delivering bad news. Your employees will respect your honesty, even if they don’t agree with the message you are delivering. This is vital in fostering an open relationship based on trust and honesty.
This article was originally published on October 15, 2014. An updated version was published on January 5, 2021.