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  1. Employee productivity
  2. Satisfaction & morale
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How communication can improve productivity

Managers can improve their organisation’s performance significantly by communicating with their staff and involving them in decisions.  This also improves overall employee satisfaction and productivity. 

Research conducted with over 10,000 employees during 1999 and 2002 across 10 organisations indicates that staff do not feel trusted, nor valued, nor respected as responsible employees.  This perception is based on the large communication gap that exists between managers and staff.  Staff feel they are not involved in decisions and important developments within their organisation, nor are they recognised for their achievements.  Consequently, staff represent a large untapped resource and managers need to undertake two-way communication to optimise this resource to further improve the organisation’s performance and employee productivity. 

In this article we will be looking at the importance and effectiveness of communication between management and staff and impact on employee satisfaction.

In describing their ideal workplace and employer, employees consistently rate “effective communication between management and staff” in their top 5 expectations.  Also in their top 5, is their expectation of “feeling valued, trusted and respected”.  When we probed this expectation further, we discovered that communication plays a significant role in helping staff feel valued. In their own words, staff feel valued when:

  • Their opinions, expertise and experience are recognised through an open two-way channel of communication between management and staff

  • Staff feel involved and empowered in decision making processes relating to their jobs.

  • Staff contributions and efforts are openly recognised.

  • Good and bad news is openly communicated, letting them know what is really going on in the organisation.

Staff feel totally undervalued and not trusted when:

  • They are kept in the dark about important developments in the organisation

  • They are not asked / consulted about their expertise or experience in a particular job or field

  • They are not consulted about important decisions

  • They do not receive any feedback about positive things they have done

When we examined how well organisations performed on communication, it became clear that there is a large gap between employees’ expectations and perceptions of managers’ performance on communication.   The actual result was a performance gap of –32%, where a gap of 0% means that employees are totally satisfied with management communication ie. management performance matches employee expectations of communication. 

It is interesting to note that in most of the organisations surveyed, there is extensive use of communication tools in the form of email, Intranet, newsletters, and Team Briefings.  These tend to proliferate one-way communication and certainly do not impact on employees’ sense of value given their high level of dissatisfaction with communication.

We also assessed the impact of communication on the overall Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI).  The table below outlines the top 5 correlation coefficients between the ESI and the performance means of the different attributes.


Correlation Coefficient

Feeling valued and respected


Effective communication between management and staff


Sufficient equipment, facilities and resources to do their job


Enough information to do their job properly


Customer focus


A correlation coefficient >0.3 indicates a positive relationship; +0.6 indicates a strong relationship.

These results suggest that effective management communication can play a significant role in improving overall employee satisfaction by giving staff a sense of value, respect and trust.

Effective management communication requires a two-way process through which staff experience and expertise is used for day-to-day decision making in areas that relate directly to their own work.

 Sample of organisations researched

Our findings are based on research conducted between the beginning 1999 and end of 2002 with over 10,000 employees across the following organisations:

Organisation Type

Industrial Business-to-Business Service & Product Provider

Commercial Business to-Business service & product providers (3)

Education Service Provider

Internal Shared Service Providers (2)

Public Service Providers (3)

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