Firms fail to keep lower-level employees in touch with business

The majority of employers in Europe still fail to brief lower level
employees about the organisation’s strategy, according to a study by Cranet.

Much of recent organisational change has been aimed at making organisations
flatter and less hierarchical, giving all employees a sense of involvement
instead of making involvement depend on grades and hierarchies.

Cranet’s research suggests that although information flows have improved,
access to strategic and financial information continues to be hierarchical.
Manual workers are not briefed about strategy in the majority of organisations
in the UK and across Europe. Clerical and administrative workers do only
slightly better and professional and technical employees are not regularly
briefed by around a third of employers. Only a third of UK organisations brief
all employee groups about both financial and strategic issues.

The overriding factor explaining whether organisations are likely to share
corporate information with employees appears to be related to trade union
presence. Highly unionised organisations are more than twice as likely as
non-unionised organisations to include all employee groups in strategic and
financial information.

Cranet finds that British workforces are more likely to be given corporate
information than their European counterparts. Manual workers in particular are
much more likely to be included in communication than in many other European
countries. However, organisations in Nordic countries top the tables and are
much more likely than their counterparts in Britain – or indeed any other
nation – to have inclusive employee communication systems.

At the other extreme are Mediterranean countries, including France, where
communication practices seem to be particularly hierarchical.

Surprisingly perhaps, the countries with the most extensive legislation or
statutes on information, consultation and participation – the middle European
countries with strong works council legislation – are less confident that this
system delivers strategic information to all employees.

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