Engaging Employees Through Communication

Employee engagement remains a hot topic among employers, even those in the hardwood lumber industry. It’s more important than ever that your workforce stays engaged with your organization—feeling a sense of purpose and commitment, identifying with your company mission and growing both personally and professionally.

At Baillie Lumber, we’re always looking for ways to use communications to foster employee engagement. We’ve recognized that as a means to engage employees, business leaders play a key role. Why? Because many times business leaders serve as the face of your company, which means that everything he or she says is followed by everyone in the organization. DSC3330

This is a valuable opportunity to:

  • Set the tone of your company’s internal communications.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to sharing important news about your company’s future.
  • Acknowledge the contributions every employee makes towards that future.

When employees see that their personal contribution affects company growth, their sense of engagement with the company deepens.

Because of this, we work hard to improve communications wherever we can. This helps in many different areas of the hardwood lumber manufacturing process. This could range from purchasing hardwood logs and developing sawmill cutting strategies to selling kiln-dried hardwood lumber and discovering what the next hardwood market supply shift might be.

Here are a few ways we have found effective in enabling business leaders to drive conversation:

Be honest and upfront about business challenges. Employees can tell the difference between a prepared statement and words that come from the heart. If the CEO is always proclaiming how wonderful everything is—despite obvious signs that a business might face some big challenges—employees won’t be inclined to take the communications seriously. For example, our business leaders engaged in open and honest discussion with employees about many hot topics such as the such as the ELD mandate that placed a strain on the shipping industry.

On the other hand, notes People Matters, addressing “issues, concerns, and challenges” the company faces elevates the level of discussion. “Easy approachability and open communication play a key role in creating a comfortable atmosphere at [the] workplace and strengthens the bond between the workforce and management.”

Explore communication options. Business leaders who are in the habit of regularly addressing their workforce in a variety of communication methods help build a climate of trust and openness. Not only does this serve to engage employees, it sets an example for others within the organization—supervisors, managers, and others—to speak openly as well.

A few communication methods to connect with your employees include:

  • Hosting departmental conversations or “town hall” meetings
  • Drafting a companywide email in an effort to reach out to employees.
  • Company newsletters
  • Video messages to connect with employees

Video is an increasingly popular mode of communications within businesses. A leader who feels comfortable in front of the camera provides an added degree of intimacy that’s missing from print or other forms of electronic communications. (It’s also a very useful way to reach out to remote workers.) It has been especially helpful for us as we try to communicate messages to all of our sawmills and concentration yards.  

Plan recurring meetings. We have also found that regular meetings with department leaders can be quite helpful. Often we schedule meetings with our Lumber Traders, hardwood inventory managers, and even hardwood foresters and it has drastically helped improve internal communication. New ideas and better ways of solving problems are just a few of the results we have seen from these meetings.

Employees want to hear about how well the business is doing. The result is a company culture that values (and acknowledges) the contributions of its engaged workforce.

What methods have you found effective in engaging your workforce? We would love to hear them. 

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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