Maximising morale

Two-way internal communications help employees feel more involved in an organisation and its objectives, thus renewing enthusiasm for their own work.

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By  Alicia Buller Published  September 25, 2004

|~|BME200.jpg|~|By making employees feel connected, Middle East companies can increase staff productivity.|~|As companies grow and their policies and missions become more complex, the need for focused communication strategies has come to the fore. As a result, corporations in the Middle East and around the world are now implementing internal communication strategies, according to Meta Group. Low morale among technology staff is likely to be epidemic due to years of redundancies, extended working hours, declining profits, budget cuts and cancelled projects. According to Meta Group, out of the 650 companies surveyed for its yearly IT staffing guide, more than 72% indicated that low IT employee morale is currently a serious issue — a problem that could spell longer-range turnover, lower productivity, and less overall shareholder value to the organisation as a whole if not addressed. Without communication it is easy for a team’s sense of purpose to become fragmented. Traditionally, it may have been easier for staff to communicate face-to-face because they were physically in the same location and staff numbers small. But nowadays, with Middle East companies increasingly taking up remote working and introducing geographically spread offices, it has become more of a challenge to keep employees informed and motivated. In light of these factors, companies in the Middle East are becoming aware of the role of IT tools in boosting corporate communication and employee morale. “Today’s global environment requires companies to leverage communications methods such as e-mail, the intranet, and voice mail to create a sort of ‘global water cooler’ that keeps everyone in the know about the company’s direction, current projects, and future plans,” says Carol Wallace, director of marketing communications at Siemens Business Services. “It’s easy to keep morale high when the business is doing well, but even when things could be better, consistent internal communications buoys morale because employees feel connected.” In place of face-to-face communication, a variety of tools have sprung up to address the challenge of maintaining contact within the workforce. Technology can now facilitate remote communication and create a ‘water cooler’ feel — albeit an electronic one. These include intranets, live messaging, virtual meeting rooms and newsletters. Jumeirah International realises two-way internal communications help staff feel more involved in an organisation and its objectives, thus renewing enthusiasm in their own work. The hotel chain uses e-mail to keep its staff updated on daily happenings, sometimes by sending a link to the intranet site that saves on cluttering up the e-mail network. “Our intranet is absolutely crucial to us, we couldn’t do our job as effectively without it — [staff] wouldn’t feel involved. The site enables information mobilisation, the communication of happenings within the business, daily reports, new patches and so on,” says Joe Tesfai, group IT director for Jumeirah Beach International. “There are eighteen people on my team and it’s important to communicate on a daily basis — whether it’s through e-mail, face-to-face or phone. Each one of our hotels needs to know what’s going on in realtime. The intranet helps them to be proactive, rather than reactive, which boosts business. But, most importantly, it creates a sense of community,” he explains. Another tool that is invaluable for increasing communication and boosting morale is instant messaging. IBM has rolled out its Lotus Sametime tool to its employees worldwide. Employees can contact each other by simply typing into a message box on their screen. Jumeirah International also supports the use of communication tools for professional and social purposes to encourage a sense of belonging. “We post details of the locations for company celebrations and so on. Of course, nothing beats face-to-face communications, but with today’s pace sometimes it’s difficult,” says Tesfai. ||**||

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