Employee Benefits Conference news: Communication should be two-way

Employers have been urged to embrace face-to-face communication in order to deliver key messages to staff.

Speaking at the Employee Benefits Exhibition and Conference 2007, leadership and people management consultant, Jeff Grout, said communication should be a two-way process in order for employees to feel sufficiently engaged.

He branded email as a “lousy communication tool” and urged managers to use story-telling for effective communication.

“It’s about connecting with someone in a more personal way,” said Grout, speaking in the opening keynote session Smarter communication on October 2.

As alternatives to email, he suggested writing a letter, sending a quirky postcard, scrawling a hand-written note on the bottom of an email or meeting with employees face-to-face.

The former UK managing director of Robert Half International pointed to NestlÈ which introduced email-free Fridays so that staff got to know their colleagues and their business needs better by communicating directly with one another.

“Having some form of interactive face-to-face communication is critical,” said Grout who has written a number of books on leadership, including What do Leaders really do?. “Good communication is about involving people and sometimes inspiring people.”

He suggested that managers could take the lead from Anita Roddick who, when managing the Body Shop, used a red envelope suggestion scheme and wipe-clean graffiti boards for employees to offer suggestions and express their feelings.

In times of change in an organisation, Grout said it was crucial for staff to be kept in the loop so that they understand what is happening, how the change will affect them, and, most importantly, why the change is taking place.