Building a positive employee experience is key to creating an enduring brand and company culture. And this starts with employee communication and bridging the gaps in how we communicate with different groups of employees. Your office-based employees might feel very connected to your company and what it stands for. That’s likely because they have more access: access to leadership, greater transparency into business results, and generally receive more access to information. But what about your employees in the field? Do they feel appreciated? Do they have outlets for two-way communication?
Noted author, keynote speaker, and self-help guru Steven R. Covey once said: “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
Covey’s underlying message is that motivated, happy employees who feel appreciated, listened to, and valued are the backbone of a strong corporate culture and brand. They serve as brand ambassadors and are just as important to a company’s ongoing success as its best customers. Whether your enterprise or organization focuses on B2B or B2C, here are a few thoughts for senior executives and managers looking to create and sustain an engaged, motivated, and happy workforce – one that will serve as the foundation of an enduring brand.
1. Clearly define and educate employees on the company vision, mission, and values. Then, articulate their importance to company success and how employees can help them come to life. Communication campaigns that continuously come back to your core values and purpose are key to getting employees to understand what you stand for and how they fit into the puzzle.
2. Demonstrate real-life examples of the organizational vision, mission, and values by sharing success stories and customer testimonials across a variety of internal communications platforms (Intranet, employee app, email, video, newsletter, etc.) to ensure everyone gets the message. People, after all, most effectively model behaviors if they know what they look like.
3. Reward employee behavior that supports the desired culture and brand. Recognition and reinforcement are fundamental to shifting behaviors and beliefs. Recognizing remote or deskless employees can be challenging (and only more so with COVID-19), but there are so many ways that you can still reach out and recognize those employees. And we know that a simple “thank you” can go a long way. Recognizing team members on your app is a great place to start building your recognition culture.
4. Establish an employee committee tasked with developing ongoing strategies and tactics to keep employees engaged, informed, and excited. This kind of focus group will ensure that you always have a sense of what the employee body wants. Involving them in the strategy early on is a great way to show your employees that you care about them and want them to be part of informing the direction the company goes in.
5. Offer a simple way for employees to provide feedback and suggestions on enhancing business performance, customer service and product and service offerings. And if you implement a suggestion, recognize it and the employee who suggested it.
6. Communicate quarterly company performance and how employees are contributing to achieving short and long-term corporate goals and objectives. This is a great way to reiterate that we’re all on the same team and working towards a common goal. It’s not enough to just set the aspiration; you must share results up and down the ladder.
7. Provide meaningful opportunities for career and personal growth. This applies to employees of all levels, not just those in leadership positions. It’s just as important to show you new, hourly crew members how they can develop at your company. And it’s key to make broader growth opportunities like further education, certifications, etc. accessible and encouraged. If you do not, another company likely will, increasing your turnover.
8. Promote from within whenever possible. Send a message that retaining valued employees matters and that hard work and achievement will be rewarded.
9. As a manager, ensure your direct reports know you have their back, especially in challenging times. We know that 70% of the variance in employee engagement comes down to your manager (Gallup) and that not all managers are communication experts or comfortable having tough conversations. As communications professionals, it’s up to you to equip your managers with the tools they need to support their direct reports.
10. Finally, thank your employees. A hand-written note from a senior executive or even the CEO may be old-fashioned, but it sends a powerful message that an employee’s work and contributions are recognized and matter.
Douglas Conant, the former CEO of iconic brand Campbell’s Soup, summarized it well when he said, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”
Building and sustaining a strong corporate brand is serious business, and your employees play a vital role in making that happen. If your goal is to create a brand that endures the test of time, a powerful place to start is with your employee communication.
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Dave Reavis is an internal communications professional focused on using strategic, integrated communication strategies to promote and protect corporate brands and help businesses grow.