In the past ten years, my experiences in Supply Chain and Distribution have provided me with unique insight into the challenges facing the logistics and manufacturing industries. With endless variables, legacy systems, and often antiquated processes, it can feel chaotic and even contentious for all those involved. Seeing these challenges first-hand, I was driven to make a difference in the industry by working for theEMPLOYEEapp, which helps companies in these industries improve employee communications and the employee experience. In my role as a Client Success Account Manager, I get to help my clients implement a mobile app and strategize to better reach the workforce that I’m most passionate about: deskless employees.
Recently, I was fortunate to attend ALI’s 7th annual Strategic Internal Communications Conference in San Francisco, and the event was eye-opening. It was incredible hearing from so many brilliant speakers talk about internal comms strategy. Even more impactful than the presentations were my behind-the-scenes conversations with communicators who shared what their challenges were, what they were excited about, and what was important to them as internal comms pros. Throughout the conference, there were four key things that I kept hearing:
1. Measurement matters. Nearly every presenter at the conference mentioned the importance of measuring the impact of employee communications. If you are unable to prove your results with metrics, it’s difficult to assess where your strategy is successful and where you need to make adjustments and make them quickly. I see parallels in manufacturing and distribution where Toyota’s method of “Lean Manufacturing” has transformed cultures to produce quality goods and services on-demand while streamlining efficiencies and eliminating waste. Several of the presenters at the conference demonstrated that this idea of Lean Thinking is now branching into other industries with deskless workforces and communicators are taking the lead by focusing on how they can improve efficiencies and limit time-waste, even down to the number of clicks it takes to find regularly accessed information. In my own role, I have been able to dive directly into the world of analytics, measuring the effectiveness of internal communications campaigns and guiding communicators through decisions that tie their actions back to cross-departmental business objectives.
2. Time is money. This really boils down to the ROI of time savings. When you streamline access to information, you can save employees minutes every day, which becomes hours each month and thousands of dollars in work time. As a customer success manager, I also think about the communicators I work with. How can I save them time getting important information out to their employees? How can I help them be more efficient and able to shift from always being stuck in crisis-mode, reacting to everything to being proactive and strategic? And then how can we help them measure their impact?
3. Values are changing. Companies are increasing their focus on the employee community; some companies are creating values for the first time, while many others are refreshing their values to align with what employees want: a greater purpose. In my career, I’ve often seen a disconnect between an employer and their employees. For instance, it’s common for dock workers to have no knowledge of company history or any leadership outside of their direct supervisor. This has been rapidly changing thanks to increasing awareness of the ongoing cost involved in re-training new hires and the burnout of middle managers responsible for improving productivity with constantly decreasing resources. These companies are working hard to improve the cultures of their distribution centers and the relationship between leadership and its distributed workforce. At theEMPLOYEEapp, I’ve seen communicators institute a set of company values and make consistent on-brand efforts to live those values, transforming their workforce and overcoming union disputes, inter-departmental conflict, and production-stopping turnover.
4. Content needs to be both fast and high quality. In the 24/7 information-age, there is a ton of content out there and expectations of quality is always increasing. Presenters noted that the ever-shrinking human attention span makes it critical that we set ourselves up to compete. Communication needs to be concise, visually appealing, and high-quality if we want nice-to-know content to compete for attention. But this idea also applies to need-to-know information. Communicators have a limited window to reach employees, especially those on the frontline. Work schedules change and being able to rapidly communicate change is critical to those employees most impacted by the change. This can have a huge impact on the employee experience and, therefore, employee retention.
Overall, the conversations I was able to take part in at the ALI Conference were inspiring. It’s amazing that companies are connecting the end result of customer happiness with employee happiness and that we have a unique opportunity to permanently evolve the employer-employee relationship. Steve Crescenzo of Crescenzo Communications painted a heroic picture of the Internal Communicator as one who ‘Fights the Good Fight’ and urged that communicators produce the content they feel is most important to the employee rather than what is most important to corporation. I take this to mean that we, as a SaaS provider need to empower our clients to be strategic, creative, results-driven, and impactful in their content creation. In this way, not only do we get to help communicators wherever we can but we can literally improve the lives of the 2.7 billion global deskless employees.