Are your employees comfortable enough to speak their minds?
Communication. Communication. Communication. For HR leaders, it’s a near constant battle to ensure that the C-suite’s internal message is being diffused effectively – and that their workers aren’t missing out on the tone. Bad communication, or a complete lack thereof, can lead to a toxic culture, high turnover, and plummeting morale. So, what should HR do to make sure their people are kept in the loop whilst also feeling comfortable enough to speak out if they disagree?
“Boundaries are set by having open and honest communication – on both ends,” Craig Sneesby, U&U Recruitment Partners, managing director, told HRD. “Some employers avoid having tough conversations and try to keep everyone happy. In my experience, having clear boundaries around expectations makes the tough conversations easier. By taking care of yourself, through clear and effective boundaries, you can help foster a positive workplace and culture for your people.”
Culture of authentic communication
“Always check in on your values,” Sneesby added. “As an HR leader, work may be a priority, but what else is important and meaningful to you? Learning when to say ‘no’ or pushing back - appropriately and politely - is an art form and something everyone needs to learn to do.”
For employees, Sneesby revealed that an open office environment, where people feel comfortable discussing issues with their managers and C-suite executives, is the key to a healthy company.
“It comes back to the importance of having clear, open and honest communication between employees and employers and creating a safe space for discussions,” he explained. “If an employee is struggling with their workload or they’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed and they keep saying ‘yes’ to everything when they need to say ‘no’, that’s often when resentment, disengagement or burnout occurs.”
Laying down proper boundaries
Ensuring employees aren’t being plagued with emails outside of their working hours is a major issue for Australian HR leaders right now. The rise in remote work has led to a culture of overwork – one which is creating mass burnout and adding to the Great Resignation.
“A simple thing leaders can do is to stay on top of staff leave hours and check in with their employees about taking adequate time off,” Sneesby added. “As a leader, I review our staff leave schedule regularly and encourage staff to take leave when they’ve got it up their sleeve. When it comes from the top, people feel comfortable to actually take leave and recharge before they hit a wall.”
It’s okay to say no
Clients too can be demanding, and it’s not unusual to receive calls late at night, on weekends and/or public holidays. This can leave employees feeling exhausted and not able to feel able to switch off. Remind employees that sometimes it’s okay to say no.
“People – particularly recruiters – are often quick to say yes to just about everything because we want to be seen as someone who gets things done – not as someone who says something is impossible,” Sneesby added. “But if you tell your clients no too quickly, it can feel like you’re not willing to do your job or you’re not the right person for their needs.”
Most employers and employees are looking forward to a break over the Christmas/New Year period. As HR leaders, it’s incumbent on you to make sure your employees have a proper break with no contact so when they return they’re full of enthusiasm, not the January Blues.