Critical To Your Success – Keeping Staff Informed

Author Sean Fletcher


Continuing The Engagement Journey

As a former CEO and senior manager, I found regularly, when starting at a new organisation, the number one complaint that would ooze from staff was (and is): “we never get told what is happening here, we don’t know what’s going on, so and so never listens to what I say” and so on.

In today’s post we will explore the second facet of the Engagement Diamond: what it means to keep staff informed. In short what we are talking about Is how we communicate in the workplace.

Facet – Keeping Staff Informed

In summary, the concepts, context and tools with examples regarding keeping staff informed are shown in the following graphic:


The Concept – The Main Themes

In no uncertain terms it is up to you to lead the way and keep staff informed. If you think the number one reason for staff not staying with the organisation is due to a lack of remuneration, think again. How you pass on, or receive information is central to respecting those who work for you. Jane Dutton in her article Fostering High Quality Relationships gives further insights into just how important communication,  including listening, really is.

The Context – Information (Communication)

It is essential that employees know what is happening, how the organisation works and that they keep each other informed on what they themselves are up to. This means telling them on a regular basis what is going on. If you don’t, rumours embued with Chinese whispers is the end result. Damage will continue to be done and staff will give up, disengage or leave.

In otherwords, communication is critical. Encourage them to not leave their “brains” at the door, but to be active, thoughtful participants.

The Tools
The method of communication is what makes this element interesting, and exciting. The following is a list of informing engagement tools. It’s not exhaustive, but is meant as food for thought.

Staff & Team Meetings

A weekly staff meeting is a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a meeting for meetings sake though. Such meetings can be an opportunity to not just catch up on key activities, but to raise new ideas, perhaps serve as a “toolbox”, or technical ideas meeting or even as a mechanism to develop staff. 

As we know, staff meetings do not have to be held in person. They can be through one of the many Cloud and networking softwares (e.g. Citrix, Cisco WebEx, Fuze, Adobe Connect) or apps (e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts, Office 365) that allow face to face interaction or virtual participation through using an electronic device (desk top, lap top, tablet, smart phone or other).

However, as Mikogo (2014) points out, the on-line meeting process is very different to an in person meeting and Turmel (2013) comments further that managers need to see on-line tools used in context, be allowed to learn and practice them and be given the tools and training to apply them in the workplace.

Staff Newsletter

A regular staff newsletter (or perhaps e-newsletter) is a key engagement tool. Not only is it a way to keep staff informed, but the newsletter could be used as an avenue to seek input, or feedback.

The size of a business or organisation will determine the format and length of the staff newsletter and even how frequently they are issued. For a small business, a quarterly newsletter is fine. In the case of the medium sized enterprise, the newsletter may be monthly and for a large organisation either weekly or fortnightly.

As such, the newsletter may be a single page, or two pages or something that is no more than three or four pages in length. The challenge for you is who will develop, and then maintain the newsletter. You will certainly need to contribute articles, and more often than not, your article will be the lead item.

So what type of things can a  staff newsletter contain?:

  • A welcome from you summarising what is happening;
  • An update on one or more services or projects that the organisation is involved with;
  • A profile of a staff member;
  • Some occupational safety/health advice;
  • A piece of trivia;
  • A list of birthdays;
  • An events calendar.

In terms of distribution, newsletters can be issued with payslips, by email (attachment or hyperlink), text messaging or even via download on a Wiki or even through an internal web based portal or intranet.

Staff Surveys

Surveys are an opportunity to cement commitment to the organisation. Recognising and following through on the feedback received in a survey is critical to building engagement. 

A survey may be either paper based or digital (e.g. on-line using Survey Monkey or through an email). It may even involve an interviewer asking the questions! Surveys must be specific i.e. targeted. Sometimes, only a straw poll or a quick seek and response approach consisting of one or two questions is required. More detailed surveys are often used to get the “temperature” or mood of the staff regarding how they see things either on a key issue or a range of issues. 

Presentations, Workshops and Web Conferencing

A regular presentation to staff on what is happening regarding the organisation with a feedback session is an extremely powerful tool. At least two presentations per year is valuable. These can be tied in with a staff breakfast, morning tea or lunch.

Workshops, including web conferencing (e.g. webinars) are one of the most powerful engagement tools at your disposal. This is because they are an opportunity for both you and your team to explore together (in the same “space/room”) what needs to be achieved.

The workshop process is, by its very nature, a creative canvas. The way in which the workshop is facilitated is the key to success: e.g. a consultant when independence is required, or to allow you to participate directly during the workshop; experienced staff (HR, trainer, team member) when dealing with internal systems and processes; or yourself for more immediate issues, but want to step back to allow others to come forward and promote their talents!

Case Study – The Use of Information at the Shire of Lake Grace

As the former CEO at the Shire of Lake Grace, I implemented a change management process with the aim of improving the work culture through providing information on the performance of the organisation.

The Process

On commencement, I invited  all staff to a breakfast followed by a presentation I gave on why change was required and how the change process works.

A consultant was then hired to review with each staff member their capacity and capabilities and what they needed from the organisation.

Feedback was provided by me on the outcome of the review to all staff at a follow-up presentation.

From there a quarterly staff breakfast was implemented followed by a presentation and feedback session I facilitated on each occasion on the status of the organisation.

The Outcome

Feedback from the quarterly information sessions became a key part of employees committing to the organisation that contributed to turnover rates reducing from 40% down to 18% over two years.

A Final Word

Although I haven’t mentioned social media specifically, if it is used, a respectful process would need to be put in place.

Till Next Time…

In my next post, we will explore the third part of the Engagement Diamond: Collaboration.

In the meantime, if you have any comments you would like to share regarding staff engagement, please comment below 📥


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