6 Rules for Better Internal Communication With Your Hourly Employees
Automation continues to revolutionize the way complex worksites manage their hourly workforces. More and more, these organizations are trading in their sticky notes and whiteboards for intelligent technology that can automate their dynamic scheduling needs. While this helps streamline labor scheduling, operations leaders may still be leaving money on the table if they don’t align their internal communication processes with their scheduling practice.
Communication and Employee Scheduling Software
Coupling a robust staff scheduling solution with state-of-the-art communication tools can lead to bottom-line cost savings, as well as higher employee engagement. Automated communication tools help managers connect with their workforce to:
- Set and confirm availability
- Acknowledge shift assignments
- Share access to published schedules
- Meet legal obligations for predictive schedules
- Respond to shift questions
- Fill open shifts and facilitate shift trades
- Make last-minute shift adjustments
- Respond to unexpected day-of changes
There are also any number of scheduling scenarios unique to your worksite that can be optimized with better communication.
Costs of Poor Internal Communication
When David Grossman surveyed 400 companies with 100,000+ employees on the cost of inadequate internal communication, he found that the average loss per company was $62.4 million per year. Follow-up surveys have found that even smaller companies with only 100 employees lose an average of $420,000 per year due to poor internal communication..
Poor communication causes employees to disengage with the company. Disengagement can lead to lower productivity, increased error rates, lower employee satisfaction, more workplace injuries and even theft. Once employee engagement is at risk, companies face huge expenses trying to overcome absenteeism and turnover. Poor communication between the employer and employee can lead to a waterfall of costly consequences.
6 Rules for Effective Staff Communications
A 2013/2014 report by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson revealed that companies with highly effective internal communication strategies are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers.
Consistent communication also boosts employee engagement. According to Gallup, consistent communication, whether it occurs in person, over the phone or electronically, is connected to higher engagement. Through communication, companies can improve the number of employees that feel involved, enthusiastic, and committed to their work.
Rule #1: Connect Communication Closely to Your Process
Communication from the scheduler to the employee should be specific, purposeful, and aligned with your scheduling processes. Outreach that reinforces your scheduling processes helps employees understand what is expected of them and how to communicate back to the scheduler. While this may seem basic, it is critical to get right.
Rule #2: Empower Employees with Self-Service Capability
Many times, the biggest barrier to communication is poor timing. Communicating critical details to a preoccupied employee may result in miscommunication or “in-one-ear-out-the-other” syndrome. By facilitating access to important shift information, shift workers can consume information when they are ready for it. This type of communication frees up reliance on the scheduler, lowers error rates, and empowers the employee to seek needed information independently.
Rule #3: Deliver Information on Time and on Target
The most useful messages deliver information as close to the moment of need as possible. A shift reminder, delivered to all employees a month in advance, is easily ignored and forgotten by the time the shift is relevant. Instead of painting with a broad brush, timely communication that targets only those affected is the best way to ensure workers hear your message and take action on any necessary instructions.
Rule #4: Establish Cadence and Standards of Communication
Good communication helps employees understand when and where information is available. Establishing predictable communication helps employees find the information they need when they need it. Establish communication templates and standardize on a regular cadence to help employees develop a routine around consuming important information.
Rule #5: Enable Two-Way Communication
Efficient communication acknowledges when the message has been heard. If a scheduler assigns a worker a shift, the worker must have a way to acknowledge the assignment. When a worker wants to trade a shift with a coworker, there must be feedback when the shift is properly traded. If a worker asks for time off, there must be a method for notifying the worker of the status of their time-off request. These examples are just a few ways you can establish a two-way conversation between the scheduler and their workforce.
Rule #6: Employ Cross-Device Communication
Worker surveys show that 85% of employees use more than one device to communicate at work, with 32% of those using three or more devices. For communication to be successful, it’s clear that schedulers must adapt to their employees’ communication devices. Establishing a healthy communication rhythm around your scheduling processes help increase employee engagement while also easing the stressful task of creating an actionable schedule.
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