Oftentimes, businesses owners operate under the assumption that employees know what’s going on at their company or that they will figure it out on their own. However, this is often not the case and can lead to a culture of disengagement, poor morale, and uninformed and disinterested employees. It is, therefore, no surprise that employee engagement is a big issue and one that internal and corporate communications and human resource professionals are grappling with as we speak.
As an HR professional, improving culture and increasing engagement can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be. Immediate improvements can be recognized simply by evaluating and changing the way a company communicates with its employees. A recent survey by theEMPLOYEEapp found that 65% of employees indicated that the way their employer communicates with them directly impacts job satisfaction.
To get started and address this issue head on, an organization should take a close look at its current guidelines for employee communications. If guidelines don’t exist, they should be created and given the imprimatur of management. The guidelines should then be shared with employees – this, in and of itself, will make a statement that management cares.
Communications guidelines don’t need to be overly complex. They should contain procedures such as when and what type of information will be communicated company-wide; how employees should expect to be communicated with; who is responsible for communicating what etc. It can contain greater details such as when and how often employees should expect to hear from their CEO; what kind of information will come from employees’ managers and what will come from HR?
In considering what should be included in a company’s communications guidelines, it is important have an overarching purpose or goal in mind. For example, what behavior do you want to illicit from or change in your employees? In some cases, the primary goal may be simply to make employees feel better informed and included. In others, it may be to take specific actions like filling out benefit information, getting involved in company-sponsored activities or taking a survey.
Once the spirit behind the guidelines is determined, the next thing to consider is the method or methods for communicating. Will you continue to communicate with employees in the same way you have for years (e.g. email, town hall meetings, and common-area signage)? Or will you try different and innovative approaches that are more desired by your employee base? To the extent your workforce now consists of or is expected to grow to consist of individuals from the Millennial Generation (years 1981 to 1987), should you consider incorporating mobile technology into your communications plan?
With 64% of Americans owning smartphones, the future for employee engagement undoubtedly lies with mobile technology. Indeed, according to Forrester Research, merely owning or having access to technology, such as mobile devices or tablets, has the ability to inherently change behavior patterns and preferences. In light of this, why not consider a mobile solution beyond just email?
What about the nature of the content used to communicate? Instead of static content and traditional newsletters, why not consider more modern communication methods such as audio podcasts or video? Multimedia can be a great and inexpensive way to engage workforce, update employees on upcoming announcements or events and put a face or voice to management teams that do not have extensive contact with lower level or remote employees.
By now, we are all familiar with the Gallup Organization’s annual employee engagement survey and the fact that poor engagement costs companies millions of dollars annually. While there are no silver bullets when it comes to improving morale and individual, tactics will not solve a company’s problems overnight. Recognizing the importance of and evaluating how an organization communicates to its most important audience – its employees – will go a long way toward improving engagement, ensuring the best culture possible and making your business one that individuals want to work for. R&E
As a public and investor relations consultant for the past 15 years, Jeff Corbin is pioneering the use of technology in the communications industry as the founder of theEMPLOYEEapp™. Jeff also serves as the CEO of KCSA Strategic Communications.
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