Three Communication Tips to Raise Productivity

Communication is often the key to success especially within the workplace and during team projects. If communication expectations are laid out and shown to employees, the chance of higher productivity is more common. Read this blog post for helpful tips.

If you're looking for ways to bump productivity, rescue slumping performers or improve teamwork, start with your expectations. These subtle—but very powerful—elements of your leadership toolkit can produce lasting results.

Raising your expectations doesn't require you to adopt a perpetual cheery optimism, but it does require you to make a brutally realistic assessment of current conditions. If productivity is low, cycle time is horrible and/or quality is poor, you need to acknowledge the facts—or you'll never be able to improve performance. And part of that brutal assessment requires looking in the mirror. Perhaps, without realizing it, your underlying beliefs are contributing to the performance situations you see around you.

Three components make up the messages you send: the words you use, the way you say them and your nonverbal cues.


Here are some examples of how to frame your expectations for performance improvement in three different situations.

  • If productivity is down, you might say: "Well, as we look at productivity, we can see that it's 2 percent below where it was last year. I know we can get back to where we were—and eventually beyond—because we have the horsepower right in this room to do it." In selecting these words, you've acknowledged where performance is and expressed confidence about improvement.
  • If you're making progress in an area—but more progress is required—the message might be: "While we're making progress on quality, it's still not where it needs to be. I know we can get to where we need to be by continuing our Six Sigma efforts. Let's look and see where we need to put our resources next."
  • If performance is good and you want to boost it more, the message should be: "Cycle time is good, never been better. Let's look at how to cut it even further. I know we can do it if we work together to figure out how."

In each example, your words describe the present situation in simple and direct terms and also express confidence in moving to further improvement.

Verbal Intonations

The tone of your voice is the second element of your message. Everyone has experienced situations where the words sent one message and the tone of voice sent another. When there's a conflict, most people believe what is conveyed by the tone of your voice. So, make sure that your tone matches the positive message of your words. Not only should you avoid the obvious mismatch, but also the unintentional mismatch—those occasional situations where your words say one thing and your tone of voice says another.

Nonverbal Cues

The bulk of the meaning lies here. You can say the words, and your tone of voice can match the words. But if you're looking around, tapping your fingers, shaking your head "no" or doing any one of the hundreds of other seemingly little things that say, "I don't believe in you," you're not going to get the performance you want. Here are five categories to check yourself against:

1. Body position. If your arms are crossed, your legs are crossed away from the person you're communicating with or you're giving the "cold shoulder," then you're sending negative messages. On the other hand, if your body position is open—you're facing the person rather than looking away—you communicate honesty, warmth and openness. If your posture is erect rather than slumping, you communicate positive beliefs. And if you're leaning slightly forward, you demonstrate interest in the other individual.

2. Hand gestures. Avoid tapping your fingers ("I'm impatient"), hiding your mouth ("I'm hiding something"), wagging your finger (the equivalent of poking someone with your finger) and closed or clenched hands ("I'm upset"). These gestures all conflict with an "I believe in you" message. Instead, use open hands with palms up ("I'm being honest with nothing to hide") or touching your hands to your chest ("I believe in what I'm saying"). Both of these emphasize a positive message.

3. Head. If your head is shaking back and forth or tilted off to one side, you're sending a message of disbelief. On the other hand, if your head is facing directly toward someone and you're nodding up and down, you're delivering a nonverbal message of belief and confidence.

4. Facial expressions. Smile, and keep your mouth relaxed. Show alertness in your face and act like you're ready to listen. Do these regularly and you'll have created an open communication pattern with someone who will believe in your sincerity. On the other hand, if you're tight-lipped, are clenching your jaw muscles and have only a grim smile, no smile at all or a frown, you'll send a message that says: "No way can you possibly succeed at this project."

5. Eyes. Maintaining good eye contact is one of the most important nonverbal signals you can send. It conveys the message, "I'm interested in you and when I say I believe in you, I really do." Making sure that your eyes are open wide is also helpful. Squinting can deter the recipient. Worse yet is looking around, paying attention to other things and not paying attention to the person or topic at hand.

Communicate high expectations well enough and you may even have to step aside to avoid getting run over by a team of committed players whose performance is accelerating.

SOURCE: Connellan, T. (29 September 2020) "Three Communication Tips to Raise Productivity" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

Here’s how to ensure employees know how to pick the right benefits

Open enrollment is an important time for employees, but it's often a stressful one as well. According to recent research, the average employee spends less than 30 minutes selecting their benefits. Read this blog post for more on communicating benefit options to employees.

Annual enrollment is an important time for employees — but it’s also a stressful one. The choices they make can affect their financial health, yet the average employee spends less than 30 minutes selecting their benefits, according to research from benefits provider Unum.

With annual enrollment planning underway, now is the time for employers to ask themselves, “How can we help employees make the right benefits decisions?” The answers may be more valuable than they think.

See Also: Ideas for Effectively Demonstrating Plan Choices

Today’s workforce is the most diverse in history, with four generations actively working, and a fifth connected through benefits and pensions. A robust benefits package is increasingly important for recruitment and retention, challenging employers to provide choices and options that support diverse needs.

About 80% of employees prefer a job with benefits over one with a higher salary but no benefits, according to the American Institute of CPAs. As such it’s vital that employers ensure their workforce is engaged with their benefits and taking full advantage of what is available. Here are five ways employers can make sure that happens.

See Also: Ideas to Help Employees Find their "Best Fit" Plan

1. Acknowledge that decision support addresses personalized needs. Tools that demystify the benefits selection process can help employees make choices that align with their risk tolerance, financial circumstances and unique needs. The best tools lead employees to a recommended suite of benefits options that fit their individual physical, emotional and financial health.

2. Know that year-round engagement improves benefits literacy. While employees appreciate benefits, they aren’t experts. Indeed, roughly one-third of employees are outright confused about their benefits, according to recent data from Businessolver. Keeping up a cadence of communication about benefits throughout the year can help address this challenge.

3. Recognize the power of a total rewards statement. It empowers employees to maximize the benefits available to them, and these tools can be accessed at any time, not just during enrollment. The most impactful solutions aggregate all employee benefits options in one integrated offering that demonstrates the full value of compensation and benefits investments made by them and their employer.

See Also: Communicating the Value of Employee Benefits

4. Think about different generations. Customizable benefits options are a crucial step in meeting the needs of today’s workforce. For example, our latest data shows that nearly two-thirds of millennials are concerned with managing their monthly budget, while over 50% of boomers are most worried about a large, unexpected cost. Having core medical plan offerings along with complementary voluntary options helps employees address varying financial needs. Likewise, paid parental leave and different health plan options assist families at any stage, and they make it likelier that your employees will engage with their benefits and remain with your organization.

5. Be sure employees know that savings vehicles contribute to financial well-being. Employees of all ages and income levels are facing financial stressors — but they may not be the same ones. Offering different financial benefits, such as student loan assistance and emergency savings accounts, in addition to retirement benefits, enables your employees to address both their immediate and long-term financial needs.

See Also: Avoiding Communication Overload During Open Enrollment

More than ever, employers have a responsibility to help employees make informed decisions when it comes to selecting the right benefits. Otherwise, they risk losing top talent to organizations that are better implementing benefits strategies and technologies.

By meeting the needs of a diverse workforce with an array of benefits options supported by appropriate decision support resources, employers can ensure they’re meeting their workforce’s needs and retaining valuable employees.

See Also: Incorporating Incentives to Create Educated Benefit Consumers

SOURCE: Shanahan, R. (26 June 2019) "Here’s how to ensure employees know how to pick the right benefits" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

The Importance of Effective Employer and Employee Relations

Before investing in multiple employee benefit options, it's best to get to know your employees first. Understanding what they need and communicating effectively with them will discontinue money and time waste.

Internal communication is vital to a successful company. The communication that occurs between the employer and its employees directly effects the company’s overall productivity.

No matter what kind of business it is, communicating with employees is essential to people management. Establishing and maintaining effective lines of communication with employees can help a business enormously in many ways. Good communication from an employer can help motivate their staff, help deliver quality customer service and help cultivate a strong team of workers.

Every business deals with both planned and unplanned change. The ability of the business to navigate change successfully relies heavily on whether employees know employer expectations and understand the business and its goals.

Communication promotes employee dedication to the company. Employees are more motivated. Regular talks among employers and employees lets them know they are a valued part of a team. If employers can demonstrate to their employees that the company depends on their input, they will feel a sense of responsibility for the company’s goals and success.

Good, effective communication can help prevent certain detrimental effects that arise when employees feel uninformed. Employees who feel that information is being kept from them will have negative perceptions. Not communicating with employees will only enhance feelings of mistrust towards the employer. The employer should make their staff feel involved with business decisions so that they feel well informed and valued. This promotes a trusting relationship among employees and their employer.

Employers can often times overlook the value of their employees. Open lines of communication allow employees to provide potentially useful information they have to employers. Because employees do a lot of the “field work,” they have a better idea of customer trends and changes. Any bit of feedback can have a significant difference in the success or failure of a business.

Communication between employers and their employees can come in many forms. Some forms of communication are internal newsletters, bulletin boards, intranet and email. The most important thing for an employer to keep in mind is that communication works both ways.

Communication is a full-time responsibility for an employer in order to have a healthy and well orchestrated business team. As a result the overall company will be much more structurally sound. Therefore, effective, positive, and frequent communication with the employees should be the main focus of any successful business.



tylertalkstruth (17 November 2012). "The Importance of Effective Employer and Employe Relations" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address

Miserable Modern Workers: Why Are They So Unhappy?

It's a new year, which means working to improve the bad. What's so bad about today's work environment? Employees are more disengaged than ever. So, how can employers fix that? Let's take a look at the basic facts and possible first steps.

Today's workers are disengaged. They lack motivation. They're bored. They're stressed. They're burned out.

Researchers at Gallup, Randstad and Mercer conducting survey after survey have come to these conclusions. In fact, these surveys seem to paint an increasingly bleak picture of life at work.

At a time when technology has arguably made the workplace more efficient than ever, laws are protecting employees better than ever, and companies are offering benefits perhaps more generous than ever, why would U.S. workers be so checked out?

"One could argue that today's employees are as equally stressed as their predecessors, but for different reasons," said Jodi Chavez, president of Atlanta-based Randstad Professionals, a segment of Randstad US, which provides finance, accounting, HR, sales, marketing, legal staffing and recruitment services. "They fear having their jobs outsourced to another country, have anxiety about how best to work alongside new technologies such as automation and robotics, have increased financial pressures with rising student loan debt and late retirement, and feel pressure to be 'on' and answering e-mails 24/7."

Disengagement Can Lead to Bad Habits

Gallup has been measuring employee engagement in the United States since 2000 and finds that less than one-third of U.S. workers report that they are "engaged" in their jobs. Of the country's approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent say they are "not engaged" at work—meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs and tend to do the bare minimum. Another 17.5 percent are "actively disengaged"— meaning they resent their jobs, tend to gripe to co-workers and drag down office morale. Altogether, that's a whopping 68.5 percent who aren't happy at work.

Recently, Randstad US found in its own survey that disengagement has led to some bad habits among the nation's workers: Unhappy workers admitted that while on the job, they drank alcohol (5 percent), took naps (15 percent), checked or posted on social media (60 percent), shopped online (55 percent), played pranks on co-workers (40 percent), and watched Netflix (11 percent).

"Some employers may see checking social media a few times a day as a small offense, while napping on the job or watching Netflix could be considered serious safety hazards for other employers," Chavez said. "Really, we found that these results are part of a bigger story—a trend of burnout and job dissatisfaction. Burnout is a natural human reaction to stressful environments, or long workdays, but it may also be a sign that an employee isn't the right fit for a position. It's important for employers to be aware of these habits, evaluate if they're a sign of a larger issue and identify what they can do to help employees feel appreciated."

Even if today's workers are no more disengaged than workers of decades past, three things may be making the "commentary on disengagement louder," said Ken Oehler, global culture and engagement practice leader with London-based Aon:

Scrutiny. "Management focus on people and talent is much greater now than in the past," he said.  "Three or four decades ago, studies could not find a link between job satisfaction and performance, and the concept of engagement did not even exist. There are now many studies establishing the link between engaged employees and better performance. With this we have seen a great increase in the measurement and thirst for understanding [of] how to maximize the employee experience, employee engagement and employee performance. So when the rate of disengaged employees does not seem to change much, management becomes dissatisfied and wants to know what can be done."

Expectations of work. "Employee expectations about work are dramatically different than a few decades past," he said. "Few workers sign up thinking they will be employed by the same company for life and be rewarded with a nice pension. Most Millennials don't want that. They thirst for development, advancement, movement, impact and purpose. So, when that doesn't happen, [discontent] can get loud."

Rate of change. The constant technological demands and steep learning curves of many modern jobs can overwhelm the senses, he said. "I believe many workers are worried about keeping up with this rate of change and having the relevant skills required for the future. Companies and employees need to be smarter and faster, and the technology involved in work is largely unchanged or inadequate. This is really stressful when the need and rate of change increases and the technology, tools and processes do not support this."

Are Small 'Fixes' Enough?

The "fixes" that employee engagement experts often suggest to make workers happier on the job, however, may not be making much of a difference—at least not if recent surveys measuring employee satisfaction are to be believed.

"Will simple things like getting a good night's sleep, asking for help or finding a creative outlet transform every employee's attitude?" asked Chavez. "No. But these small fixes are easy, actionable things that people can try if they're truly stressed, exhausted or having external problems, as these changes can boost productivity and overall happiness at work. If not, then maybe the employee needs to do some deeper exploring as to whether the job, employer or even career are a good fit."

The pressures put on modern workers to "do more with less" may be the result of business shareholders who—having grown cautious following the Great Recession—aren't willing to expand budgets to hire more people at companies or better compensate those already there, Chavez and Oehler said. Worker pay has remained relatively flat since the recession, with nominal annual increases even though the economy and markets are said to be booming.

"Ensuring that you get pay right is critical," Oehler said. "Perceptions of pay inequity will erode trust and engagement."

Said Chavez: "It's true that wages have remained relatively flat for the last several years. At the same time, there's more competition for top, skilled talent, so employers are becoming more creative when it comes to benefits. These benefits can come in many different forms—student loan benefits, access to telemedicine, stipends for commuting, flexible hours and remote work arrangements. While some may prefer higher salary over increased vacation time, some value robust learning and development programs. As for what makes work gratifying, every employee is different."



Wilkie D. (2 November 2017). "Miserable Modern Workers: Why Are They So Unhappy?" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address

Communication. HR’s Ticket to Success

Effective communication within the workplace is a key to a successful business. One of our main initiatives this year is to look into creative ways to effectively communicate with employees. In this article, SHRM focuses on HR, and the importance of communication between HR professionals and employees.

HR Professionals are awesome in many ways. We do great work, for majority of us, we do it not because it’s a job, but because it is truly what we love. Unfortunately, even the greatest HR professional can have down falls, and one might be, not being able to communicate effectively.

Learning to communicate is a key skill for HR professionals, but we sometimes forget one part of communication. Listening.

It’s Monday afternoon, you’re deep in your office, catching up on what happened over the weekend. You’ve already made your rounds, talking to coworkers or being out at the field site, and then you get a knock on the door. An employee is there asking if you, “Have a minute” to discuss an issue he or she is having, and you clear off the desk and break out your notebook to.

We are listening and then we start playing out different options in our head and we stop. We start asking questions in the middle of the employees’ issue because we want to solve it or it’s something we think we’ve heard before, so we automatically know what needs to happen. STOP.

Stop trying to fix an issue before you’ve heard the entire story.

Stop tuning out because you think you already know the answer.

There is enough data to show employees won’t come to HR because they have had, or heard, a bad experience, they don’t think they can trust us or what we “plan” to do, and they don’t think we listen to their concerns.

Here is what you should do:

Allow the employee to finish everything they need to say. Take notes while you’re listening to them and then get clarity at the end. This way, you have their entire story, the one they’ve played out in their head over and over before they walked in your door. Do not go automatically on the attack, unfortunately, this can be very hard for HR, we are trained to question everything. Listen clearly to everything they are telling you, all the people they’ve named, and sometimes what they think should happen. Listen to what they are experiencing and once they are done, then start the investigation or solutions to how they can fix a problem that they might be having.

Communication in HR will be one of the keys to turning around peoples view on the HR department, if we are willing to listen completely.



Wilkes J. (8 January 2018). "Communication. HR’s Ticket to Success" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address