Zurich Financial Services Communications Audit Report:

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Executive Summary:
Communications Audit examining and Investigating Internal & External aspects of the Organisation. Key objectives of this report were the discovery and utilisation of key communication tools internally and externally by using primary & secondary research, and reporting the key findings and making recommendations for the future. Introduction:

The aim of this report is to carry out a communications audit on the organisation Zurich Financial Services. This is an investigation of how the internal and external communication processes in the organisation actually work. Zurich Financial Services Group is an insurance-based financial service provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Founded in 1872, the group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It employs approximately 60,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries. The key objective of this report is to:

Identify the operational communication networks, comparing them with planned or formal networks. Determine potential bottlenecks and gatekeepers of information by comparing actual communication roles of key personnel with expected roles. Identify categories and examples of commonly occurring positive and negative communication experiences and incidents. The approaches we have used to fulfil these objectives are:

An internal questionnaire
An interview
A focus group related to the external communications of the company Finally, we will use all the gathered information from the audit to provide general recommendations which call for changes or improvements in attitudes, behaviours, practices and skills.

Main Findings:
Internal Systems:
Business Structure:
Zurich Insurance Plc. employs a Matrix Organisational Structure, the benefits of using this type of structure allows the organisation to combine the benefits of decentralisation with co-ordination across all of there areas of business, by using two arms of the matrix enables direct contact. Often found in large multi-national companies, where there are two identifiable and important areas of operation needing to be co-ordinated in order to deliver their full products and services, however there are disadvantages of using this structure; high overhead costs, tasks and responsibilities are unclear.(Capon 2004:24) (see appendix)

Structure of communication flow:
From evidence gained in the interview we discovered that Zurich’s communication flows in a downwards direction, defining that all communication is instigated from the chairman or board of directors and filters down through the various departments (for organizational flow chart, see appendix).

Formal tools of communication:
Zurich Insurance Plc. most commonly used methods of formal communication are through the use of team meetings, the company intranet, Conference calls and direct postal communication. From the interview process we were able to ascertain that the strengths of the organisation by using these formal systems were that they felt the organisation was direct, private, and secure by using passwords for the systems. From the interview process we also found that the organisational culture employed within the company was open and informative, and the system for breaking down barriers was through clear and concise communication procedures.

Informal tools of communication:
Zurich has developed an advanced system of informal communication that acts as a facilitator when formal communication is hindered by processes and bureaucracy. These tools include informal team meetings, notice boards in the common areas, and pamphlets provided by the Human resource department. Findings drawn out from the interview process found that the ‘grapevine’ in the organisation detracted from the company’s ability to communicate effectively to its staff, an example of this was given in the form of redundancies. By using informal...
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