August 2021 – Communication the key to coping with pandemic for Best Workplaces

August Newsletter: Communication the key to coping with pandemic for Best Workplaces

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For all the talk about working from home, virtual Friday night drinks and Zoom calls, it was communication effectiveness that sets Australia’s Best Workplaces™ apart from others in coping with the pandemic. 

It is an apt time to look at how companies are handling COVID with many of us again living under restrictions on movement as health authorities fight to contain the virus.

A closer look at what our Best Workplaces are doing in response to the virus shows that while flexible working, time off and other types of support are prominent, the very Best Workplaces have a different trick up their sleeves – they are communicating regularly and openly with their people.

“Leadership has kept us in the loop of every decision they were making and made sure to listen to all of our feedback,” one employee at tech giant Atlassian told Great Place to Work®. “The emphasis on looking after our mental health … has been truly inspiring and have made me feel very proud to work here.”

An REA Group employee echoes the sentiment: “During COVID-19, we had weekly townhalls (via Zoom) with ~1000+ employees where we would hear business updates before an open Q&A with our CEO.

“No question unanswered … from how are you feeling, what did you do on the weekend, what do these border closures mean for our business/families/employees … will we get pay rises … what did you think of the government’s policy on X.”

And it goes on. 

General Mills: “Continuous ‘check-ins’ and seeking improvement/feedback has been a game changer as they look after well-being as we go through this change together.”

Medtronic: “We were sent regular communication and even physical care packs.”

Macquarie Cloud Services: “The company adapted over COVID to ensure everyone was still engaged and not left behind.”

This extraordinary commitment to openness shows up in our numbers.

More than nine in ten (91%) of people who work in 2021 Best Workplaces reported strong communication from management.

Ninety-three per cent said their management was approachable and easy to talk with while 92% said that management kept them informed about important issues and changes.

So why is it that communication sets apart the best businesses?

Our research shows the fundamental driver of a great workplace is a sense of high trust between employees and management. 

There are three drivers of trust: believing leaders are credible, competent and honest, believing that people are treated with respect as people and professionals and believing that the workplace is fundamentally fair.

Open and honest communication is required for each of these levers.

Michael Bush, Great Place to Work global CEO, goes further in his landmark book A Great Place to Work For All

He says when middle managers are not well informed, they cannot connect employees to a business’s broader goals. When employees feel leaders do not seek their input, they feel decisions happening ‘to’ them rather than ‘with’ them. And when employees are in the dark about a company’s operations, they are unable to effectively support the company’s goals.

During time of stress and change like this ongoing pandemic, open communication as a driver of trust makes more sense than ever.

Samantha Huddle is the General Manager of Great Place to Work® in Australia and NZ. Sam has more than two decades of experience from the grassroots to the C-suite and helps businesses build high-trust, inclusive cultures that deliver tangible results. With experience across the government, philanthropic and corporate sectors, Sam brings a collaborative, values-driven approach and a passion for achieving social impact through business. Sam publishes a well-read monthly newsletter which can be read **here.**