Multilingual Business Communication

June 9, 2009

Internal blogs: a tool for project communication

Filed under: Ankie Dees, employee communication — Tags: , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:50 pm


Is your company’s Knowledge Management system failing? Is it getting nearly impossible to effectively manage crucial documents with your current e-mail applications?  Does key information get buried in a colleague’s inbox, because someone failed to put you in cc?  Then an internal project blog on your corporate intranet might be just the tool you need.

Internal blogging has many advantages over a traditional e-mail system. Of course the blog has to be made accessible to specified individuals and restricted from public view. All the information, ideas and expertise on one or several projects can be centered on the blog. After a project is completed, this blog remains a searchable and structured record.

Sometimes key information completely disappears, for example when someone leaves the company. Usually the old e-mail account becomes dissolved and all the valuable information that used to live there, goes into data purgatory. “It’s forever lost,” says Anil Dash, chief evangelist for Six Apart. “If it’s in a blog, it doesn’t disappear when that person leaves.” With blogs, documents and other information about respective projects remains on the intranet, and critical information is accessible to all who want to see it and who have permission to see it.

With an internal blog as a central point where information flows are captured, everyone who participates and reads it gets up-to-date quickly. This will make your internal meetings more effective. When new people start working on a project, they can review the internal blog’s content and will be able to jump straight in with a clear understanding of how the project evolved.



April 10, 2009

Are we the ones in charge now?

Filed under: business communication, employee communication — Tags: , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:26 pm

When looking at employee communication, we often consider it as one way traffic from the employer towards the employee. However, I asked myself lately wether this could have been slightly reversed. In the last decade, employees became more and more demanding. They do not settle for just any job available anymore. According to a Weekend Knack questionnaire held amongst 20 year olds, we do not just want to find a job and earn large amounts of money. We mainly want to live the good life. We still work overtime, but instead of being paid for it, we want more holidays in return. This does not mean that we are a lazy generation, we just consider quality time of more importance than materialism.

We do not want money. We want a nice atmosphere, a good company image and flexible working hours.
We do not want certainty. We rather enjoy what we do, also if it is for a short time.
Last but not least, we have faith in ourselves and believe that everything will work out just fine.

I guess this makes us a very demanding generation and I believe employers will become the ones to be flexible, instead of the employees.

Source: Weekend Knack nr.15, April 8th until April 14th, 2009 pg.25-30

Talking with (not to) your employees about diversity

Filed under: employee communication, internship, Ruth Broekaert, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:11 pm

A couple of years ago only a few had heard of the term ‘diversity’. More and more managers have come to realize the importance and the benefits of a diverse workforce. Today diversity has truly become a hot topic for internal communication.

But internal communication is often not more than a one way stream of information. A lot of companies are telling their employees not to discriminate, to tolerate differences and so on. This of course is a good thing. But more effective internal communication leaves room for dialogue, and allows top-down and bottom-up communication to complement each other.

The city of Ghent recognizes that internal communication is in fact a two way street. To put this belief into practice the city’s program for diversity and equal opportunities has made a brochure that gives word to the employees. During workshops employees exchanged their experiences with diversity at the workplace. These stories were bundled into a brochure that has been distributed to all city departments. The success of the internal diversity campaign was acknowledged by Federal Minister of Work and Equal Opportunities Joëlle Milquet 1as she rewarded Ghent with the Label Diversity Equality.


Ruth Broekaert

It doesn’t hurt to try

Filed under: employee communication, Frauke De Graeve — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:55 pm


In times of crises, employers find it difficult to motivate their personnel. On the website of CIPD, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 10 hints to manage the workforce in a recession are listed.

The three most important hints are these:

  • Think long term.
    Be creative in reducing costs. Furthermore, keep in mind that it is expensive to lay people off and recruit new ones when the market picks up again.
  • Maintain employee engagement.
    It is important to set objectives in a clear direction. Also, make sure you keep your employees in the picture, even though there is only a little news. You can organise team-building days or give out employee awards.
  • Support the employees’ health and well-being.
    Recession times can have an impact on the psychological condition of the employees. Flexible working hours make it more comfortable to combine work and home lives. Besides, provide workplace support and health provision to prevent high levels of stress.


It is rather doubtful whether this list of – barely renewed – hints can help an employer to motivate his personnel. At least, it doesn’t hurt to try to give some hints.


Frauke De Graeve






April 9, 2009

Bossnapping, the latest trend in negotiating

Filed under: employee communication, Laura Moerman — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 7:00 pm

You got sacked? Don’t just agree with that decision. Fight for your position and try bosnapping!

Over the last month, several French executives were kidnapped in their own offices. Managers  at Sony, the electronics giant, 3M, the Scotch-tape manufacturer, Caterpillar, the heavy equipment specialist, and Michelin, the tyre maker, have all been locked up by employees.

Three managers were locked up in a meeting room of Fiat Brussels today. A group of employees held them there for several hours. The reason for their action was the recently announced dismissal of 24 of the 90 employees.


Were they inspired by the latest French negotiating method? We can at least say that the Belgian Fiat employees didn’t study too much on the bossnapping trend, because their French counterparts thought just a bit bigger. They dealt more roughly with their managers in order to receive an acceptable severance package and… with results! After a horrible night in their offices, two hungry and dishevelled Préciturn execs caved in and signed a € 149,000 cheque.

So, there’s still a long way to go for Belgian bossnapping. Or should we hope not?

Laura Moerman

Improve your employee communication skills…and then check it!

Filed under: business communication, employee communication, Nina Vermaesen — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 6:26 pm


Effective communication in the workplace is crucial for the employee morale. Organisations that do not take this into account suffer from disengaged employees. Employees will nonetheless put in that extra effort when they are kept informed openly and honestly on aspects of their job and when they feel they are being listened to with empathy.

So, what and how should you communicate with your employees? Communication in the workplace should satisfy the three key employee “needs” before they can be engaged and highly productive. Each and every employee needs to:

·         Know facts about the organisation and their specific job

·         Master the practical skills required to do their job

·         Feel that they belong to the organisation. They need to feel self-worthy, listened to, respected, trusted and valued

At this point, though, most managers predominantly concentrate on the first two communication needs and pay less attention to the need that employees need to “feel”. It is in this dimension that employee communications are regularly lacking. Employee surveys have already proven that not only employees benefit from a better focus on this third communication need, but also the company itself. Therefore, it is certainly a valuable business strategy.

To check your progress on building positive working relationships, you can use the Workplace Culture Checklist. It helps you to have a better insight in the areas where you are doing well and those that still need improvement.

Here, have a bonus…just don’t forget to give it back!

Filed under: employee communication, Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren — Tags: , , , , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:42 pm


 Before the recent economic crisis hit, additional bonuses for top employees of big companies were an everyday occurrence. However, now that the economic landscape has changed drastically, their existence has come under great criticism. The recent debate was initiated by AIG’s spending of 165 million dollars on bonuses, while having just received a financial injection of 170 billion dollars from the U.S. government. This incident not only rightfully raised questions in the U.S., but also triggered a wave of protest in countries such as The Netherlands, France and Sweden.


Companies are more and more pressured by their governments and by the public to do away with such excessive spendings. Especially since the companies that are awarding expensive bonuses are often simultaneously firing employees and having a difficult time to survive altogether. Because of all these complications, it seems a new trend has set sail: asking employees to give back earned bonuses. It first happened in the U.S., where already 15 out of 20 AIG employees promised to reimburse their royal payments. Soon companies such as ING asked their top employees to do the same. Granted the immorality of awarding excessive bonuses, questions can be raised considering the way in which this problem is currently being dealt with. Should it really be possible for companies to ask their employees to give back the money they offered them more than a year ago in some cases? And just how far should employers be allowed to take this new initiative?



Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren



“Topmanagers AIG geven bonus terug”. Metro 25 March 2009, p.7.

“ING vraagt bonussen over 2008 terug aan 1.200 toplui”. De Morgen 24 March 2009, p.27.

“Nederland wil exuberante bonussen aanpakken”. Metro 24 March 2009, p.6.  (photo)

How to fire someone properly?

Filed under: Elisa Van Peteghem, employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:12 pm

Those who saw the popular Belgian television programme ‘Mijn restaurant’ last week have witnessed how one of the five participants, chef Claudio Dell’Anno, fired his waiter Benjamin. The angry chef scolded at the waiter and went through his backpack, thereby insinuating that the waiter was a thief. From that moment onwards, people started expressing their discontent on various websites. Moreover, articles on the chef’s impious behaviour towards his personnel have been published in several newspapers.

The incident at ‘Mijn restaurant’ made me wonder: Is there a right way to fire someone?, an American business website, has created a guideline with useful tips:

  1. Check your past feedback,
  2. Give them a warning,
  3. Focus on specific behavior goals,
  4. Fire early in the week and never on a Friday,
  5. Make it short, sweet and to the point,
  6. Do not let the employee linger,
  7. Ask for a release, and give the employee an incentive to sign it,
  8. Reassign the terminated employee’s job duties promptly,
  9. Do not fight the employee’s claim for unemployment benefits,
  10. Get the job done.

To sum up: be well-prepared!

The smell of success.

Filed under: employee communication, Jana Mahieu — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:35 pm



 If I told you that in crowded offices, things can sometimes get a bit smelly, this probably won’t surprise you. This is a shame, because scents have a much greater effect on us, than you would suspect. Our behavior is determined by many subconscious processes, and smell is a perfect example of this. Lemon to reduce stress, peppermint to stay alert: the right smell at the office can boost your concentration and productivity. A recent study has proven that in administrative functions, 21 percent less typing mistakes are made when a citrus-smell is spread. 

 The idea of a smell-adapted office, may seem a bit far-fetched, but in Japan this is in fact reality. Japanese employers subtly spread scents through the air-conditioning system. If this study is correct, Japanese employers can count on  more productive employees. And if you think this is rubbish; wouldn’t you rather smell the scent of lemon than the odor of your hard-working colleagues?

(Jana Mahieu)


April 8, 2009

Rewarding your employees in times of crisis

Filed under: Dorien Heiremans, employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:57 pm


When the economy was booming, companies found all kinds of new ways to motivate and reward their employees: excessive corporate parties, bonuses and extraordinary benefits. Now a survey by Quantum Workplace, a firm that runs employee-management surveys, has pointed out that there was a significant decline in engagements to boost workers’ commitment in 2008 for the first time since many years.

Part of the problem is that companies have often turned to expensive ways of thanking their employees but of course now there is less money to spend. In January, many companies had to cut down on the budget for New Year’s corporate parties and for example, did not invite employees’ partners anymore, while they still did in 2008. Employees have also complained that the management does not inform them regularly anymore about the companies’ successes and downturns.

A way of cutting costs and rewarding employees at the same time, may be to “tailor performance incentives to reward employees who can show that they have cut costs and improved efficiency,” says Gerwyn Davies, a public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, to Times Online.

I believe that keeping your staff motivated does not only consist of rewarding them with excessive benefits, but is also made up of having an open relationship and creating a good working atmosphere, by organising for example events which do not necessarily have to be expensive. Regularly organising small events, such as maybe a collective coffee break or a football tournament may be even more effective than just paying your employees extra money.

See also: Disengagement party from

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