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Workforce in the dark

Workforce in the dark

May 2009 - More than one in four (28%) are told nothing about business performance, with one in twenty even being discouraged from asking questions of the management team. The result? Valued talent leaving their employers at a time that they're needed the most.

This tendency to keep employees in the dark is particularly prevalent in the Midlands, with 45% of employees reporting they're never told about business performance from the management team. Accounting and finance staff seem to be the most uninformed of the professions, with around a third (30%) being kept in the dark.

Poor communication seems to be evident in even the most stressful of situations, with a third of employees reporting that their employers have made redundancies without fully explaining the reasons to their people. As well as creating a confused and nervous workforce, this could have serious legal ramifications for some employers.

What's perhaps more serious is the effect of this cloak and dagger approach to internal comms. One in four people said they'd actually leave their employer if they were told nothing about business performance or heard about it from anyone other than their management team. At a time when organisations are plotting a way through the recession and laying the foundations for growth once the economy recovers, this could have a serious impact. Whilst it may not result in huge numbers of people heading for the exit now, many employers may see a significant brain drain when the economy does recover and people feel more secure to move jobs.

"Good internal comms isn't a complicated task," comments Neil Wilson, managing director at Badencoh & Clark. "It means ensuring someone has clear responsibility for it and processes are set up to regularly inform the whole organisation of key business news. That could be a newsletter, a weekly email, a company intranet, a regular meeting with the management team or simply ensuring information is effectively filtered down through the organisation's management chain. However it's done, employers need to engage better with their people, especially when times are tough. The alternative is an unmotivated, unproductive, nervous workforce that will head for the hills at the first opportunity."