Communicating With Your Employees

The following has been taken with permission from BizMove. Please visit their site for more information on staff management, personal management, or other business management related topics.

As the manager of a small business you not only have the day-today responsibilities of operating the business, but also the responsibility to establish and administer the disciplinary procedure and to effectively handle grievances and complaints. Your actions are the major factor in determining the human relations climate in your firm. Communication provides the "key" to successfully meeting these responsibilities. Large corporations recognize this responsibility and use many different media to assure that employees understand, and are kept informed of all matters of interest to them. Small businesses often fail to recognize this need, even though, when compared to large organizations, they have a distinct advantage. It is certainly much easier to communicate with 5, 10, or 100 employees, than with thousands. Yet, in spite of their advantage, many small companies have poor and inadequate communication with their employees.

Part of the problem lies in recognizing what your employees need to know about the work they're doing, and the company itself, and part of it is that owner/managers often believe that they do keep employees informed. The more employees know, the more they feel part of the company.

There are many things on which employees should receive information, either regularly or when the occasion arises. These include:

  • vacation plans
  • holiday plans
  • benefits
  • overtime and other special work schedules
  • any plans about changes in the work or work environment such as: new products and services, & moves of furniture or work places

In addition, it is desirable to keep employees informed about matters affecting the company:

  • how it is doing, and where it is going
  • improvements in company operation
  • laws or regulations affecting company operations
  • new contracts
  • new product plans

Employees want to know most everything about their company, and more importantly, matters affecting them; keeping them informed, therefore, satisfies an important need. There are two channels of communications through which employees obtain information:

  • The informal communications network which includes any conversations you have with individual employees or small groups of employees. The informal network also includes the rumors which spring up when there is concern about something but no direct information.
  • The formal communications network includes such methods or procedures as:

a. Any regular meetings you (or your supervisors) may hold with employees to brief them on matters of interest and to discuss anything of concern to the company or to them, including problems with production, standards or rules, as well as any concerns they may have. Such meetings provide considerable feelings of belonging to employees and bring many suggestions on how specific projects, as well as overall operations can be improved.

b. A small employee manual, which proves useful in the orientation of a new employee to your company, but also serves as a reference on policy benefits, important rules, safety programs and procedures for handling grievances.

c. An organized bulletin board with current information. Notices of holidays, changes of shift or work schedules, new policies, emergency telephone numbers and any other information that would prove of interest to employees, can be posted on such a bulletin board. Notice of personal information regarding your employees - congratulations on birthdays, births, marriages - can also be posted.

d. Posters promoting safety, health, and good housekeeping procedures can also add to a good communication climate as long as they are kept clean and neat, and changed regularly.