A growing company finds communication is the key to keeping its staff united

It’s challenging enough to manage people at two offices – but imagine growing from 45 people in those locations to about 400 people at five locations. How do you get everyone on the same page communication-wise as well as in line on company culture?

That was the task facing Kristin Mustari, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition and Culture for Chicago-based ARCO/Murray, one of the largest design/build general contractors in the United States. Since 1992, ARCO/Murray has completed more than 4,000 projects in 48 states and Canada.

Part of Mustari’s job was to make sure the basic knowledge of the company and how it likes to handle day-to-day tasks is passed down to every new employee, she pointed out. But her team also wanted to make sure people understood the company’s core values, purpose and everything else that made working at ARCO/Murray great, in their estimation.

Positive communication
Finding ways to create positive communication between offices, managers and employees can lead to greater success, surveys show. According to a Towers Watson report, companies with highly effective communications are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective.

At ARCO/Murray, Mustari and her team wanted to get to know everyone, to have them get to know each other and to make sure the executives met new hires and longtime employees. That is a big job but also a big opportunity to create communication, Mustari said.

A great example is the company’s subcommittees. These groups bring thought leaders and passionate employees together in small groups to talk about a topic, such as HR, safety or technology. Among other things, these groups help the company come up with new ideas and ways to implement them, Mustari said.

One case in point of how this works came with a woman who was hired into ARCO/Murray in a kind of administrative role. She raised her hand to join the technology committee, adding skills she gained in this area at another job that weren’t necessarily something she was hired to do in her new role at the company.

Expertise and passion
Because people saw her knowledge and understood her interest in the topic, she recently was moved to a new role at ARCO/Murray within software support. That was a boost in her role as well as an important way for the company to acknowledge her expertise and passion for technology, Mustari said.

Here are some of the other things that Mustari and ARCO/Murray have come up with to create conversations about the company and its values:

  • Focus group. ARCO/Murray created specialty groups among employees to give them some way to find one another and to develop relationships within their specific industries. An example is women in construction or engineering, Mustari said.
  • Onboarding. The company created ARCO University, a deep dive done online and at a new employee’s pace. Their first 60 days are about learning the role and internal expectations, Mustari said, so having a place to go to learn more and deeply was important. This includes everything from how to find and file documents to how to report things. The HR staff also can track a new employee’s progress so they can check in from time to time.
  • Breakfast with the President. This monthly event brings new hires in with the company’s president to have a meal together. These small groups give the employees a chance to get to know the president while the president also gets to know them, Mustari said. They can talk about anything – financials, new initiatives, company goals. “People know what’s happening at our company and that way nothing is a surprise,” Mustari said.
  • YouTube series. This online learning tool is like a newscast, if you will, Mustari said. The managers and executives talk about what’s new at the company or on specific projects. They also offer insights on what’s coming up in the business and what’s new on the calendar. This is a great communication tool for all ages, but it especially appeals to Millennials and Generation Z, which like YouTube as a platform, Mustari said.
  • Online apps. Having ways for teams to communicate online on their smartphone or other devices also is a great tool across generations, Mustari said. One example is an app that lets groups or project teams share photos, like an Instagram for professionals, Mustari explained. There might be pictures on there of an employee’s new house or a new baby in the family. “It’s a great platform to connect people,” Mustari said.