5 Steps to Building Goodwill in the Workplace

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5 Steps to Building Goodwill in the Workplace
by Emily Lang

In the Rotary spirit of goodwill toward all and building better friendships, I’ve been thinking a lot about what is required for both. As co-founder of a strategic communications company, I see every day about the role communication plays in building not just a better workplace, but a better world.

In the business world, we build better relationships, internally and externally, through consistent, honest communication. Successful leaders learn early that effective communication is a two-way process, where all parties feel heard and where their viewpoints are respected and honored through action.

Active listening is not a skill everyone has. In our polarized world, pushing, shouting and shutting others out have become the norm, but none of those tactics are known to build good will. They aren’t good for employee retention either.

A 2023 study by workforce management organization UKG found that 86% of employees feel that diverse voices – and opinions — aren’t heard fairly in the workplace, with 47% of those surveyed saying underrepresented voices, including those of young and essential workers, are less valued by their employers. A full 63% of workers feel their employer has ignored their voice, and 75% don’t feel heard on critical issues. The consequence of leaders’ failure to listen and take appropriate responsive action is costly; of those surveyed, 34% of employees would rather switch jobs than express concerns to management.

So how can we build goodwill with our employees? If the data is to be believed, the answer depends less on what we say than on what we hear. So how do we create a culture where feedback feels welcome? Here’s a path to consider as you work to improve internal communication for your organization.

  1. Survey your employees. Do this consistently and thoroughly. Create a survey with measurable results, which will allow you to track trends pertaining to employee sentiment. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
  2. Share the results with your employees. I know what some of you are thinking right now. Are you crazy? What if the results aren’t positive? Won’t I just be stirring the pot? The truth is though, that the results are what they are, and admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward righting the ship. Be transparent about what you learn, and what steps you’re putting in place to ease pain points.
  3. Talk about what’s working, too. I’ve yet to encounter an organization where a survey revealed disaster from top to bottom. Accentuate the positive; and make a plan to eliminate the negative.
  4. Create a structure for consistent employee communication. This can come in the form of a weekly email, a regularly-scheduled staff meeting or an employee intranet. Typically, internal communication requires utilizing a variety of platforms geared toward an organization’s demographically varied audience. Messaging should be consistent across all platforms and should stay focused on how details and daily tactics feed the organization’s broad mission. People tend to fill a vacuum with negativity; consistent communication can ease that tendency.
  5. Lead by example. If we want employees to share their concerns with us, it’s vital that we acknowledge their concerns through word and deed. Be honest about what you can fix – and what you can’t. Share your concerns, too, and ask for feedback on issues that matter to your team.

And finally, remember that employees are people – with lives outside of your workplace that are far more important than what happens during business hours. Honor that time too, by creating a culture that allows for radio silence during family and personal time.

Consistent communication won’t just build goodwill and better friendships – it can improve employee retention and productivity, as employees feel valued and trusted in their roles.

Plus you never know … if you listen, you just might learn something.




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