2015 Top Workplaces: The value of top-down communication

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

During the economic downturn, the leadership team at George J. Igel & Co., increased its communications with employees.

The Columbus construction company thought it was important that employees understand more about how the business operates and what leaders were doing to remain competitive, says John Igel, president.

"We wanted them to be more informed," he says. "We wanted to educate them about the business, how it works and how their contributions can make a difference."

The company also hosts an annual meeting where the leaders talk about goals and initiatives for the coming year, he says. The purpose of the communication is to gain a better picture of the business and where it's headed, he adds.

Central Ohio employees want to know what company leaders are thinking and doing, according to Columbus CEO's Top Workplaces survey, conducted by WorkplaceDynamics. Two-thirds of the workers at Top Workplaces said it is important to have confidence in their leaders. Employees also indicated that they want to work for companies that have strong values and operate ethically.

>>Download the full 2015 Top Workplaces list

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLPprioritizes communication and ethics, says Michael Petrecca, managing partner of the Columbus office. The national leadership communicates monthly with workers through web casts about a variety of work-related topics.

"It shows that they are not just talking heads; that they are trying to understand what's happening in the other locations," he says.

Local leaders make an effort to be approachable. The company has an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas.

The company also puts a lot of effort into giving back to community, Petrecca says. Staffers can pay to wear jeans to raise money for local charities. They also have the opportunity to support the United Way and other good causes, he says. The accounting firm wants to create a quality workplace because it believes that "our people are the foundation of our success," he says.

Total Quality Logistics also sees communication as key to building confidence in the leadership, says company President Kerry Byrne. The company operates an intranet site that has a running tally of its year-to-date sales. Company CEO Ken Oaks also makes a point of regularly sharing his thoughts with associates, Byrne says.

"Our CEO sends a daily e-mail to everyone in the company with information such as new policies and procedures, reminders on where to find help, congratulations and shout-outs for a job well done," he says.

The company also works to gain employee trust through its hiring practices, Byrne says.

"We instill confidence by the fact 90 percent of our management and sales team leadership is promoted from within the company," he says.

Companies can't afford to lose the confidence of their employees, adds Igel, whose industry is facing a major employee shortage as aging workers retire.

"Not to slight customers that buy our services, but employees are our new customers," he says. "We're picking our customers but working to attract and keep the best employees."

One Igel employee commented on the survey, "I feel needed and respected for what I do."


I believe this company is going in the right direction. 69%

I have confidence in the leader of this company. 67%

This company operates by strong values and ethics. 64%