Comms pros are the bridge between the boardroom and the rest of the workforce

A recent study tells us that most employees across the country and in every sector are dealing with significant organisational change, and it is taking its toll, not least because CEOs are not visible enough during periods of change.

Scrutiny of CEO performance is only going to increase, writes Scott McKenzie
Scrutiny of CEO performance is only going to increase, writes Scott McKenzie
Change can lead to employees feeling disconnected and disengaged, and it is the role of comms teams to ensure that what goes on in the boardroom is understood by the rest of the workforce, and delivered in the right way by the right people.

One of the most contentious recent issues is executive pay – four in 10 employees think their leaders are overpaid, and we can see that leaders are doing a poor job of explaining why their pay is out of step with everyone else. 

This scrutiny on CEO performance is only going to increase and so leaders and their comms teams need to be ready to do more to demonstrate the value they bring to the organisation.

It is the role of the senior comms practitioner to coach and cajole their CEO to get out of the boardroom and on to the shop floor. 

Leaders need to reconnect with their employees, and comms pros need to be brave enough to tell the truth to power, even when that truth is an uncomfortable one. 

While it is the role of the leader to navigate the organisation through periods of uncertainty, it is down to the comms practitioner to make sense of the changes taking place. 

They need to find ways to reduce the complexity and develop a compelling narrative that sets the context for the changes the organisation is going through and acts as a reference point when new issues emerge. 

Similarly, there is a key role for senior comms practitioners to address the issues raised in the study around stress-related illnesses. The scale of this issue is simply staggering: one in four employees have taken time off due to work-related stress in the past year. 

It has a significant impact on individuals, their families, their colleagues and of course the business as a whole. 
Comms pros need to partner with their HR colleagues (and others) to ensure there is a coherent approach to wellbeing and that this is clearly articulated to employees. 

There is an urgent need for UK plc to ensure our managers are equipped to recognise the triggers of stress and know what is available to support their people.

Essentially, comms pros have a duty to encourage leaders and managers to step up, to translate their business decisions for the rest of the workforce. 

They must develop a clear, credible and compelling story that sets the direction for the organisation. 

By being more open, accessible and visible, leaders will rebuild loyalty and engagement among their employees, which in turn will translate into improved business performance.

Scott McKenzie is joint managing director and head of change & employee engagement at Lansons

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