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Global Best-in-Class Employee Communications Research

 “Public relations should start within a company,” is a philosophy shared among companies considered globally ‘best-in-class,’ according to Colleen Learch, Vice President of KRC Research. This is a preliminary finding Learch highlighted after interviewing 10 global companies on their global employee communication practices. Learch presented her initial takeaways on behalf of the IPR’s Commission on Organizational Communication at the Trustees Research Symposium on November 8, 2012. The final report, based on interviews with employee communication leaders representing GE, Cargill, Toyota, McDonald’s, Johnson & Johnson, Petrobras, IBM, Unilever, Chevron and FedEx, will be released in the coming weeks.

Keith Burton, former president of Insidedge and now partner with Brunswick Group leading its global employee and change communication practice, said the research was commissioned for IPR’s Organizational Communication Research Center (OCRC). “Every effective organization has a central process through which employees share information, create relationships and help build understanding for how their organization may be changing,” Burton said. “As it evolves, the OCRC will provide practitioners with a comprehensive source for game-changing employee communication research.”

The research found that global best-in-class companies share four principal qualities in the way they communicate with their employees:

  •             They have an employee-centric focus that drives communication strategy
  •             They set benchmarks and goals that align with corporate goals
  •             They measure performance and success toward goals, while tracking employee attitude
  •             There is a deep-rooted desire to always improve communication with employees and build upon current success

Another similarity with the global best-in-class companies is that they believe good employee communication and transparency are ethically correct principals. According to Learch, while outcomes aligned with performance goals are essential to the companies, those interviewed say the main reason for employee communication is that it is “the right thing to do” for employees. This employee-centric focus manifests itself by keeping employees up-to-date on the organization and changes that may affect their work and performance.

“If you have an informed employee, they’re probably knowledgeable about the company,” said Colleen. “If they’re knowledgeable they’re more likely to feel engaged and potentially valued.”

For more on the global best-in-class research and how to address employee communication needs effectively, we encourage you to look for the full report in the coming weeks.

For more videos from the Trustees Research Symposium, click this link.

Global Best-In-Class Employee Communications Research

One Comment

  1. Sean Williams (@CommAMMO) — January 30th, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I’m delighted to see our industry reach more deeply into internal communication. There’s been ample anecdotal evidence (and some HR consulting research) that companies that excel in internal comms tend to perform better than those who do not. I wrote a piece just last week for PRSA (bit.ly/VlvEcb) that calls on internal communicators to be the change we’ve been waiting for, to repeat a campaign message from some years ago… A current client has been very receptive to the concept of articulating what we want people to think-feel and/or do for every major communication opportunity. Is that being employee-centric, or merely offering precision of objectives? After all, organizations do need to tell employees what’s expected of them, whether strategically or tactically. There’s also some research I’ve seen about strategic knowledge that suggests that managers need most of it, and employee need for it will vary. Finally, one hopes that attitudinal research is compared to behavior – my own research of a few years ago established a link between managerial behavior — “my supervisor helps me understand how my performance contributes to company success,” and “my supervisor is positive about the company’s prospects for the future” — and employee comprehension and action. If the managers are on board and positive, the employee response leads to success.

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