" How well are you communicating with your people? "
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  From 2005, the Information & Consultation Directive will begin to affect UK companies. For some employers, there may be a temptation to wait and see how the ICD plays out. After all, it will initially apply only to businesses with over 150 employees. The onus will be on employees formally to request information and consultation. And companies will still be allowed to withhold any information that might harm its interests if disclosed.

But there are very good reasons for being ahead of the game and formulating a strategy in advance — not least of which are potential fines for non-compliance topping £75,000. Also, if companies wait until employees demand a framework for consultation, there will be a lot to do within unforgiving deadlines. The pressure on time and resources could well make the eventual outcomes more expensive and less effective. It could all happen at an inconvenient time when managers would prefer to be concentrating on other priorities.

These are the sticks, but to our mind the potential carrots of employee consultation will be a much more effective spur to action. In our own experience with clients, we see clear evidence that a commitment to honest and open consultation makes organisations perform better. What’s more, all the research we have seen supports this conclusion. Most business transformation projects now have a communications component to them, but effective communication can — in itself — make a substantial contribution to the attitudes and achievements of an organisation.

This is why we believe the ICD is something to be embraced as an opportunity rather than avoided as a bureaucratic burden. Ultimately, most employers will be obliged to comply with the new legislation, but the best and most successful among them will use and benefit from the ICD. We know there is real business value to be had from effective communication with employees because, with some of our clients, we are already helping to deliver it. If you would like to know how we might help, please go to solutions.
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