Dis­en­gaged employ­ees? Your inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions could be the culprit

March 3, 2021


David Ruiz

Country Manager Regional Country Manager


Many com­pa­nies con­tin­ue to pour mon­ey into their inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions ini­tia­tives and depart­ments with the end goal of bet­ter employ­ee engage­ment. While this is some­thing busi­ness­es should pur­sue, why do so many con­tin­ue to miss the mark?

Accord­ing to Gallup, only 13% of employ­ees rate their organisation’s lead­ers as effec­tive communicators.

In our expe­ri­ence, the sit­u­a­tion is much worse on the ground.

We once polled the employ­ees of a client with a man­age­ment cul­ture ques­tion­naire. We used this as an ana­lyt­i­cal tool to get the pulse of the busi­ness and under­stand some of the cur­rent chal­lenges it was fac­ing. As expect­ed, com­mu­ni­ca­tion was not­ed as poor by a whop­ping 52% of the employ­ees, includ­ing man­agers and direc­tors. When review­ing the results with a senior busi­ness exec­u­tive, he was less than pleased with the rat­ings received for communication.

“We have invest­ed heav­i­ly in com­mu­ni­ca­tions over the past sev­er­al years,” he said in frus­tra­tion. “Why do our employ­ees con­tin­ue to feel that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is poor?”

He was cor­rect, they had invest­ed to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tions. They had hired an inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist and devel­oped a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy. The strat­e­gy imple­ment­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions chan­nels such as:

  • Break­fast with the president
  • An employ­ee social media site
  • A revamp of the com­pa­ny newsletter
  • E‑mail blasts with rel­e­vant information
  • Month­ly town hall meetings

So, with all these actions aimed at increas­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and employ­ee engage­ment, why do so many still feel that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is lack­ing? After hun­dreds of engage­ments and thou­sands of employ­ee inter­views we have dis­cov­ered the answer and it may sur­prise you.

The miss­ing message

Every­one wants to play for the win­ning team. How­ev­er, more impor­tant­ly, peo­ple want to know how they con­tribute to the team’s con­tin­ued suc­cess. How many times have you heard a sports exec­u­tive or star play­er com­ment that the crowd’s cheers moti­vat­ed the team to ele­vat­ed play or win­ning a championship?

Have you heard of the 12th man in Soc­cer or Amer­i­can Foot­ball? They under­stand that to have engaged fans, they must link how the fans’ involve­ment (cheers and chants) aid the team in its success.

Sim­ply put, employ­ees at all lev­els, want to under­stand the goals and direc­tion of the com­pa­ny, how their indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions enhance the com­pa­ny, and how both are cur­rent­ly faring.

While most com­pa­nies do a good job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing com­pa­ny direc­tion and per­for­mance, many miss the impor­tant step of link­ing indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions to over­all com­pa­ny success.

So, how do we com­mu­ni­cate ade­quate­ly to ensure our employ­ees remain engaged in the game? Here’s how:

1. Link an employee’s work with cor­po­rate strategy

Accord­ing to IBM, a shock­ing 72% of employ­ees do not under­stand their company’s strategy.

Devel­op­ing and map­ping a com­pre­hen­sive man­age­ment con­trol sys­tem link­ing cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, goals and ini­tia­tives to dai­ly exe­cu­tion helps bring about the clar­i­ty that so many com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies miss.

For exam­ple: How does my job as a main­te­nance tech­ni­cian in the oil patch con­tribute to the company’s goal of increas­ing share­hold­er val­ue? To have these mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions takes a series of con­nect­ed val­ues, goals, KPIs, skills assess­ments, meet­ings and progress reporting.

Being able to tell an employ­ee that their indi­vid­ual efforts, such as improv­ing their response time, elim­i­nat­ing qual­i­ty prob­lems and men­tor­ing new employ­ees, helped the busi­ness increase its mar­ket share because these improve­ments, and oth­ers, con­vinced new cus­tomers to sign on is great. Being able to show them this progress on the way to achiev­ing it is invalu­able and leads to world-class employ­ee engagement.

2. Com­mu­ni­cate often

Employ­ees want to be com­mu­ni­cat­ed to fre­quent­ly on what is expect­ed of them and how their dai­ly per­for­mance con­tributes to the busi­ness as a whole. To do this often and effec­tive­ly, man­age­ment must first have a very good under­stand­ing of it.

Leav­ing this impor­tant step to front line man­agers and/or quar­ter­ly employ­ee reviews often leads to less than stel­lar results.

There must be a sys­temic process with com­mu­ni­ca­tion flow­ing top-down, bottom-up and com­plet­ed often.  How often? In many cas­es, dai­ly, or at least week­ly. The more closed-loop com­mu­ni­ca­tion employ­ees have with man­age­ment about how their per­for­mance adds to com­pa­ny val­ue, the better.


Despite their ben­e­fits, inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions are sad­ly an after­thought for com­pa­nies. Yet, when done well, they have a major impact on employ­ee morale and engage­ment, which in turn ben­e­fits com­pa­nies in many ways. For one, organ­i­sa­tions with a highly-engaged work­force enjoy 22% more pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Man­age­ment must be able to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly link cor­po­rate strat­e­gy to day-to-day tasks for employ­ees. There must be a plan to com­mu­ni­cate this clear­ly, strate­gi­cal­ly and often.

In the end, the key to a great inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy is not just a shiny pro­gramme with bells and whis­tles, but the abil­i­ty to demon­strate to every employ­ee that their con­tri­bu­tions help the com­pa­ny suc­ceed and that they are appreciated.


David Ruiz

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

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