The government-sponsored Employee Engagement Task Force has acknowledged communication as a critical element to better engagement levels in the UK.

Real and effective employee engagement is reliant on well-designed communication reflecting the brand values, connecting with employees on a genuinely human level, and embodying the Employer Value Proposition and employer brand. After all, engagement is about having adult conversations with employees: listening to what they say, telling them what’s happening in their organisation, recognising and empowering them.

Under the stewardship of David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, the Task Force will be swinging into action this summer, coming up with the tools and advice to help organisations put performance-driving engagement at the heart of their business strategies.

The first ‘Guru Group’ meeting – bringing together engagement experts, stakeholders and a host of influential HR directors – has taken place this month. Reportedly early discussions are focusing on what have been the barriers to engagement up to now. And this has put communication firmly in the spotlight.

The typical challenges to achieving effective engagement can be addressed head-on when communication is made a strategic priority. The traditional command and control management model, companies not embedding clear company values and vision, and inadequate skills and tools at line manager level to cascade company messages impedes engagement – but all boil down to communication issues. Equally communication will be pivotal if you are to ‘enable’ or ‘empower’ individuals across an organisation – all big themes in the engagement debate today.

Communication is the cement that holds together any employee engagement programme, but be wary of ‘communication, communication, communication’ as is being advised in some quarters. There is a subtleness about good communication. So think quality not quantity, and carefully consider tone of voice. We are constantly reminded that effective engagement should be about driving performance rather than just bolstering staff attitudes. But pieces of communication must never lose their personal, human approach, or employees will tire of them.

We hope the Task Force homes in on the power of communication, as it begins to map out the best engagement tactics for UK plc. Results will be far better if clear, concise, relevant, human and brand-aligned communication is used to drive the engagement juggernaut forward, now that the engine is running.

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