As companies contend with the business changes brought on by the recession, many have increased their employee communication efforts. But as they prepare for an eventual rebound, few companies are planning to increase their communication with workers about pay, benefits and business performance in general, according to a forthcoming report by Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm.

Moving forward, many companies appear to be planning to scale down their recession-oriented communication to workers. Over the next 12 months, only 28 percent of companies plan to increase communication to employees on business performance and 27 percent plan to increase communication about benefits. Only 19 percent plan to increase communication to employees about pay, according to results of the Watson Wyatt 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study, a survey of 328 employers conducted between April and June 2009.

“Companies have made substantial adjustments in response to the downturn, many of which will impact the workforce for years to come,” said Kathryn Yates, global director of communication consulting at Watson Wyatt. “As the pace of change slows and recovery draws near, it is more important than ever to explain the rationale underlying decisions and communicate to workers about the changes that affect them the most.”

Leaders at different levels of their organizations indicate different goals for their communication efforts. Senior leaders are most apt to communicate to ease employee stress (49 percent). The corporate communication function and line managers are most likely to focus their efforts on improving employee engagement (49 percent). Communications from HR are primarily designed to manage change (38 percent).

“Timely, ‘relevant-to-me’ communication is instrumental to guide workers through a challenging business environment,” said John Finney, senior communication consultant at Watson Wyatt. “Educating and preparing employees for possible change can allay fears, address confusion and keep workers focused on what’s most important: remaining productive on the job.”