Over the past few weeks I've had conversations with a number of senior business leaders. Throughout the interviews, I found myself making notes about communication myths I thought had been put to rest a long time ago. Apparently, they live on.
We have to make these myths disappear:
1. "Employees are not interested in information beyond their daily tasks."
A survey on employee job satisfaction found that employees ranked feeling included as a top factor in job satisfaction (salary ranked seventh). In fact, every survey seems to arrive at this conclusion. We all have an innate desire to be part of something larger than ourselves and contribute to a greater whole.
2. "Employees are overloaded and don't want more information."
Employees want the opportunity to decide what they will and will not read. The Internet changed the way we see and share information, and advances in social media have changed things even more. Most of us are adept at finding what we need when we need it.
It's not motivating to operate in a world where you have access to all the information you need to make decisions effectively, except when you're at work. Give employees access to information and let them decide whether or not they can use it.
3. "Employees are not partners in the business; they only work for a salary."
If employees aren't partners, they should be. Employees who understand the broader context of their work are far more likely to engage with the company. Research from Gallup, Bain Consulting and the U.S. Department of Labor show that companies with a fully engaged workforce:
- Are 56 percent more likely to create higher customer loyalty
- Achieve 5 percent improvement in customer retention
- Earn $27,000 more in sales per employee per year
- Have a market value increase of $18,000 per employee per year
- Are 50 percent more likely to have low turnover rate
4. "Sensitive information is reserved for senior leaders."
This may be true if there are legal constraints, but for the most part employers can—and should—share information with employees. Employers should certainly share all contextual information.
Employers should not only share information, but discuss it in meaningful ways. When we invite employees to the boardroom table, we make them partners in our business. This makes them far more committed to their individual roles and the company as a whole.
5. "Information is a powerful tool for individuals; the power is diluted when shared with groups."
We can potentially lose information we don't share. When you share information with employees, they can apply additional brainpower to issues. This increases the power of the group.
What other internal communication myths do we need to bust?
Ken Milloy helps leaders, managers, supervisors and communicators engage employees to boost performance. He writes an internal communications blog, where a version of this article first appeared.