Nearly 30 percent of workers surveyed by Robert Half said communication and diplomacy are the areas where leaders need to improve most. Often, how well you deliver messages to employees is just as important as the information itself.
The methods and tools you use can make a marked difference on the impact of your communications, which in turn affects employee engagement. Combining technology with more human elements can help you deliver more impactful messages.
Here are five tips to help you do just that:
1. Meet employees where they are.
Trying to force communications through channels that you would prefer your employees use—even when they aren’t actually using them—will generally fail. For example, you’re posting important updates on a company intranet, but user data shows that employees simply aren’t using the intranet often (or at all). If you want people to actually see your communications, accept this fact and move on to the channels they are using.
Reaching employees on the tools they already use regularly will ensure your messages are more widely received. Maybe you employ a large number of non-desk workers who rarely use a computer at work. In this case, text alerts could be a smart option for communicating with this group. The important thing is understanding your workers’ habits so you can choose the methods that work best for them.
A great example of meeting employees where they are comes from GE. The company often uses LinkedIn to communicate cultural changes and company updates. Using a public platform to communicate internal news shows GE’s transparency and allows them to reach employees (and prospective future employees) who use the channel in their daily lives.
2. Be less predictable.
If your company meetings and email communications all predominantly sound the same, employees may start tuning them out. Alison Davis, Founder and CEO of Davis & Company, facilitates employee focus groups, and this topic comes up often. Here are some actual quotes from employees:
People want to know how their work impacts the organization. Think of the acronym WIFM (What’s In It For Me) when crafting employee communications. Click To Tweet
“Every town hall meeting is just like every other town hall meeting. The CFO presents financials, the CEO talks about the strategy, and other leaders give too many details about a whole lot of initiatives.”
“I’d visit the intranet more often but the content is always the same. A video showing a leader talking. Another article about an IT change. It just isn’t that interesting.”
“Outside of work there are a lot of interesting tools and technology. But I feel like our internal communication program is stuck in 2004. For example, there’s too much reading required. And we don’t have any mobile tools. Can’t we be more current?”
While consistency is important, employee engagement is arguably more so. Finding ways to make seemingly mundane updates exciting is a valuable skill for leaders to hone. When sharing information about the important work that’s being done in the organization, include details about how employees’ individual contributions are making an impact—they’ll be all ears.
3. Use social collaboration tools.
Imagine you’re planning a night out with friends. Just a few years ago, you may have used email to send restaurant suggestions and plan what time to meet and where. This back-and-forth method could take hours or even days. Today, you can simply start a group text with your friends and drop in a link to that new sushi place you’ve been dying to check out. Your friends likely have their phones within arms reach and will respond to the conversation immediately, making the planning quicker and more efficient.
If your organization is still relying on email (or the dreaded intranet that keeps coming up), consider implementing a social collaboration platform. It’s beneficial not only for leaders to disseminate information down to employees, but also provides a way for employees to collaborate with each other, and even to communicate directly with company leaders.
One study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity levels rose by up to 25 percent among workers with collaboration tools.
Platforms like Slack, Salesforce Chatter, and G Suite bring social media components together with business productivity to help employees collaborate in real time. They often integrate with other business applications so employees don’t have to leave the platform to get work done.
4. Take advantage of video.
If you have a large organization and/or a distributed workforce, video can be a great alternative to face-to-face communications. There are many new video solutions that allow for easy recording and editing, live streaming, and many that include security features so you can control permissions.
Video communication is more personal and allows for emotions, gestures, and tone to come through to the audience. Employees will often take their cues from the person delivering the message. Is this good news or bad news? Is the CEO smiling, or does she look upset? Written communications can often be misread, whereas the intent of messages delivered in person or on video is much more clear to the audience.
Video conferencing is also a great solution for bringing teams together to collaborate and to streamline training and development. “Video allows you to get your point across in less time. Just take this common office scenario: a new employee needs help getting set up in a software system. They ask a colleague for help, and after a few back and forth emails and screenshots, their coworker just walks over and points at their screen. Why? Because the combination of talking and showing is more effective,” writes video platform company, Vidyard.
5. Measure success and adjust as needed.
Are your internal communications resonating? Are people even reading/watching them? You won’t know the answers to these questions if you aren’t measuring the data. Open rates on email communications, engagement numbers on social posts, and view counts on video messages can let you know if employees are viewing what you’re sending out. But the only way to know if your communications are truly resonating is to measure employee engagement.
Trust and authenticity are two of the 17 drivers of employee engagement and are key indicators of how employees feel about company leaders. With assistance from academic experts, executive leaders, and HR veterans, Emplify has developed a way to quantitatively measure employee engagement against these drivers. This data can then be used to identify the greatest areas of need within the organization and help you develop better ways to communicate more clearly with employees.