ARLINGTON, VA: An Axios poll of 400 employees, communications pros and executives found that while nearly three-quarters (74%) of communicators think their updates are concise and effective, only 40% of employees agree.
Employee dissatisfaction with communications from leadership is rampant, according to the report. Many workers feel communications are irrelevant to them, not transparent and not specific to their roles. While 45% of communicators expressed dissatisfaction with feedback about their communications, 31% of employees felt there wasn't an opportunity to share their input.
The study found that failed communications are inefficient and feed a vicious cycle, specifically that "employees feel confused and out of the loop" and are "struggling or unclear on how they're meant to move forward."
Leaders face an avalanche of ad hoc information, and "tight on time and feedback, [they] struggle to evolve their strategy." According to the poll, "32% say finding enough time is a challenge in communicating to employees."
Jordan Zaslav, GM of Axios HQ business, works with organizations to help them communicate more effectively. He pointed out that with more decentralized models, 45% of leaders, who do not have communications titles, are regularly being tasked with messaging to employees.
He noted that 47%, or fewer than half of organizations, measure the effectiveness of their communications, which doesn't give them a starting point to make improvements.
Additionally, Zaslav emphasized that companies experience different challenges as they move through their life cycles. Mid-size companies struggled with challenges such as sharing critical business information and objectives. Larger companies grapple more with communicating in areas including workplace culture and DEI.
"There's more pressure on corporate leaders than ever before to have a voice and a stance on societal challenges, political issues and the culture within their companies," said Zaslav.
He also commented that the "war for attention" not only applies to companies trying to get external media coverage but also internally, where employees often want and need to be heard.
"As a news publisher, we are all fighting for a share of two eyeballs that people have," said Zaslav.
In applying that lesson to comms pros, he said the essential focus is being "thoughtful about the content you're sharing, the audience you're sharing it with, and structuring and formatting it, to meet them where they're at, not where maybe you wish they would be."