Opinion: Businesses should act on what they say

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GROWTH is often one of the most important objectives of a start-up company, writes Orlagh Shanks. Growth in revenue, growth in team members and growth in customers, sales, brand image, reputation, reviews and more. 

But what happens when growth happens at a rate that is unprecedented? And when a company does grow quite rapidly, how does it maintain its culture, its lines of communication and a happy workforce?

This article will look at the impact of communication on small companies as they grow and how to maintain a great company culture during periods of growth. 

How communication impacts culture

To any business or organisation, communication is vital. Employees, stakeholders, and shareholders want to know what’s happening, the performance of the business and especially any changes that are made or upcoming. The element of surprise is often not the best route when livelihoods and money are at stake. 

For example, organisational restructures can cause panic in businesses with employees wary of job security and how this will impact their future. Business leaders must tackle any rumours or inklings of big changes such as these up front and as soon as they come to light, or risk employees searching for alternative jobs in the event that they are soon to be made redundant. 

To stop this from happening, businesses must communicate with their employees. A lack of communication impacts company culture in a negative way. Employees feel their jobs are unsafe, and can start to feel negative towards their work and the company thus bringing down morale. 

This is an example of how lack of communication can greatly impact a business and shows how important it is to communicate with employees about any change that may impact them.

Small vs large companies

The example above often happens in large, global organisations where lines of communication are long and so communication takes a while to come from the top. 

Contrary to this, small companies usually have shorter lines of communication, meaning you can quite easily contact the CEO or senior leadership team with questions and queries, thus feeling connected and valued in the organisation. 

Where lies the happy medium between small companies and large, global companies? How is the balance struck between being approachable yet formal? 

Some businesses have an ‘open door’ policy so employees know they can approach CEOs and enter, with any query they may have. 

However, in an office environment, this can be quite intimidating and public where other employees may wonder or speculate about different conversations being had. And as we now live in a hybrid/remote working world, how does this open door policy work online? 

Senior leadership teams can host bi-weekly or monthly Q&As, answering pre-submitted questions from the whole organisation. For more personal questions, private 1:1 meetings can be held with individual employees to answer concerns. 

The business must constantly communicate with employees and find a format that works best as it continues to grow and expand.

Internal vs external communication

How businesses communicate internally and how they communicate externally, can often differ considerably. The business’ ethos and values should be consistent, but there are some companies out there that promote values of being environmentally-friendly, conscious of climate change, or supporting LGBTQIA+ rights, for example. 

But when we look deeper, these same businesses are guilty of mass waste, and don’t have any environmental or LGBTQIA+ policies or task forces in place to promote this internally. In other words, a lot of companies talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. 

To avoid negative publicity, to attract the best of the best employees, and to keep shareholders and stakeholders happy, businesses should act on what they say. In today’s society, we see businesses taking a stance on politics and major crises happening across the world. Businesses are no longer separate to conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter, the climate crisis, or abortion rights in America, for example. 

Looking at the recent rulings on abortion in America (Roe v Wade), many companies in the US issued statements to their team members letting them know that should they require medical help, the business will assist with monetary help and time off for themselves (the employees), but also their friends and family. 

In situations like these, employees are waiting for their companies to make a statement, to say something and be on their side. Again, this all comes down to communication and that those at the top, must communicate throughout the organisation.  

Communication is central to company success. We have learnt that this can be communication on business earnings, changes happening within a business or even outside matters in politics and world events. 

How a business communicates is important, but also making sure this is frequent and transparent so employees feel valued and involved in the business to ensure the company culture remains intact and positive. 

Making sure communication is maintained and even increased as a business grows is vital.

Orlagh Shanks is a public relations and influencer marketer based in London working in the luxury beauty industry. She has previously worked in PR and communications in New York, Liverpool and Belfast and enjoys writing about the worlds of public relations and influencer marketing in her spare time at www.orlaghclaire.com