Proactive Employee Communications

Team HuddleAs I listened to the financial news this afternoon, it occurred to me that — for the first time in months — I was hearing more positive stories about the economy than negative ones. Case in point, there was actually a quote from an economist who believes that the worst of the recession is behind us, and we are now on the long, slow uphill climb to recovery.

So after a brief mental celebration, I started to think about what this news would mean to corporations and their employees, and how internal communicators should be adjusting their employee communications activities to reflect this shift from recession to recovery.

Let’s face it — it’s been a tough year to be in employee communications.

I’m betting that most employee communications professionals have been working in crisis mode for the past six months or so — putting their CEOs and CFOs front and center to rally the troops around the corporate flag. That’s what I would be doing in their place.

So I have to wonder how many of these same communicators are already adjusting their approaches, shifting messaging from dire predictions to reflect a glimmer of hope on the horizon? How many are planning aggressive employee outreach to push out the new, more optimistic outlook?

I’m guessing most are just happy to go a few weeks without announcing “staff reductions” and “right-sizing”…

Sure, the economy may be turning the corner. But this is not the time to fall back into pre-recession patterns of reactive employee communications.

While your sales may be ticking upward this month, your employees are still feeling the effects of the economy: the value of their home has plummeted, their 401K balance has dried up, and their faith in their job security has evaporated during several rounds of layoffs.

Your employees have been tested on every level this year, and their long-term commitment to your company is shaky at best. Chances are, once the job market brightens up, a large percentage of your staff will be out the door and on to greener pastures.

But there is still time to win back the hearts and minds of your employees. To do so, during this period of recovery employees need to hear from their leaders on a consistent and predictable basis. They need straight talk from executives and access to unfiltered news about the company and its progress. And who better to provide that information than the very executive who has been front and center during the crisis — your CEO?

At some point in the future, your company will be back in growth mode, and you will be desperate for committed, engaged employees. So start taking steps now to rebuild that level of commitment and loyalty among your employees.

After all, isn’t that what a “recovery period” is all about?

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at rinkcomms@verizon.net.

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About Susan Rink

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications (www.rinkcomms.com), author of the "Take Note" blog and presenter of the "Take Note" podcast series (http://www.youtube.com/user/RinkComms).

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