Nearly one in three companies surveyed
reported lacking an environment of open
communication, and nearly one in four
reported lacking an environment of trust.
Significantly, only 36 percent of companies agreed that employees feel they can
share their opinions honestly. This is a
problem because open communication
and trust and engagement are integrally
related, and a fear of speaking freely
undermines both. Ultimately, this damages business performance.
One indicator of an open communication culture is the number of full-time
employees or equivalents a company
dedicates to employee communication.
Those that invest in more employee
communication staff can reliably expect
deeper trust and engagement, and achieve
a more open communication culture. The study found that the addition of each full-time employee yields, on average, an extra 0.003 points on the 1– 5 scale we developed
to measure open communication culture.
(scale of 1– 5)
*Average number of full-time employees or equivalents
in employee communication per 100,000 employees
Source: 2013 ROI Communication Benchmark Survey.
CEO Barbara Fagan-Smith,
ABC, shares some of
the 2013 Benchmark
findings—and how you
can apply them in your
this CW podcast.
The role of managers: Room to improve
The study also took a close look at leader and manager communication, which has
a direct impact on open communication. Only 33 percent of companies report that
their managers regularly ask employees for their ideas and opinions—a practice that
doesn’t tend to deepen employee engagement. Approximately 44 percent do not feel
their company has multiple channels for employees to provide feedback to managers
It’s in this area that the survey exposes significant opportunities for improvement.
While managers have a critical role to play in day-to-day employee communication and
engagement, many managers lack awareness of that critical responsibility and receive
little training for it. According to the survey:
• 26 percent of companies report that their managers understand their communication
roles and responsibilities.
• 27 percent of companies report that their communication teams are actively involved
in communication training for managers.
• 18 percent of companies report that their managers’ communication effectiveness is
a meaningful part of the performance management process.