You probably won’t be shocked to learn that employee communications is in dire straits. But new research from employee communication software firm GuideSpark reveals that management just needs to be more clear about their expectations—only 39 percent of all employees surveyed view communications as readily accessible to them, and only about one-third (35 percent) found the materials comprehensive enough. And only 28 percent said they are happy about the level of personalization.

The recent study, conducted by technology media, data and marketing services firm IDG, examined three major areas of concern

  • How HR and business leaders view the state of employee communication and the employee experience
  • The effectiveness of current communication approaches; and
  • How technology-enabled employee communication solutions can increase talent retention and development.

The disconnect

The IDG survey found that only 39 percent of all employees view communications as readily accessible to them and only about one-third (35 percent) found the materials comprehensive enough. Only 28 percent said they are happy about the level of personalization.

For companies focusing on employee engagement and retention, the findings are alarming, with satisfaction lower among tenured employees than with new hires. Satisfaction levels dropped noticeably after year one (39 percent for ease of access to information; 41 percent for timeliness; 30 percent for use of engaging content and formats.) Additionally, the understanding of overall compensation falls off after the first year of employment (65 percent for new hires vs. 54 percent for employees with more than one year of employment) as does the understanding of benefits packages (64 percent of new hires versus 58 percent for employees with more than one year of employment.)

The impact

IDG reported particularly low scores (22 percent) given by employees who were asked if “communications about benefits, compensation and other HR-related matters” were engaging and easy-to-understand. Not surprisingly, this communication gap affects employee engagement, satisfaction, retention, and ultimately the ability to attract top quality candidates.

“All progressive companies invest in their employer value proposition in order to attract and retain talent,” said Brian Schipper, EVP and chief people officer at Yext, in a news release. “If employees aren’t connected to that value proposition through understanding all the benefits available to them, that investment can be wasted.”

The good news for employers is that the IDG study found that investments in more consumer-like employee communications are achieving results. Employees at firms using mobile and instant messaging technologies to convey HR information were more likely to recommend their company to others (75 percent), were highly satisfied with their jobs (71 percent) and rated employee communication highly (69 percent.) There was a similar upside to use of video: 73 percent of those employees were highly likely to vouch for the company as a good place to work and 68 percent reported high job satisfaction.

The road forward

The survey results confirm what many forward-looking HR organizations have discovered: there is no one answer when it comes to responding to employee communication preferences. With talent now recognized as core to business health and competitive advantage, HR departments have worked diligently to redesign HR programs and invest in tools that support employees of the future. Unfortunately, the diversity of today’s workforce means that no one channel meets everyone’s needs. HR teams reported using a range of employee communication channels, from email (86 percent) to intranet (76 percent) to mobile (37 percent) and video (36% percent) and even direct mail (54 percent.)

A key finding of the IDG report is the consensus on the importance of frequent employee communication. Monthly or more frequent employee communication was preferred across all audiences: HR and line managers, new hires and tenured employees (36 percent for HR and managers; 42 percent for new hires and 47 percent for employees with more than one year of employment.)

Employees say they’re dissatisfied with workplace communications

To meet diverse employee preferences and drive HR program adoption, organizations must find a way to deliver much more frequent messages across communication channels and in multiple formats.

Download the report here.

The research initiative included a survey completed by 270 HR decision makers, 270 business managers, and 1,050 employees. Vertical sectors including healthcare, manufacturing, technology and financial services were represented; among employer responses, one-third were from C-level titles.

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