Getting the message
Employee engagement and the employee experience are currently hot topics for businesses. Internal communications are a key part of this - and getting it right ranks highly for today's workforce.
My friend and colleague, Treby Swingler, once told me about a company she almost worked with.
“They wanted to rebrand,” she said, “and their answer was to spend many thousands of pounds asking different design agencies, one after the other, to come up with a new logo to ‘jig-jog’ them into the 21st century. I suggested that I could help them deliver a strong new message to communicate to their staff, to keep them motivated and on board with their plans for change. But their response was, ‘We’ll do the writing, thank you – we can spell, and nobody reads the words anyway. We just need to make sure that everything looks pretty.’”
That a company can take such a short-sighted view of internal communications is a sorry state of affairs – and, undoubtedly, it is not alone. It's generally acknowledged, however, that a happy workforce is more productive, higher performing. So why wouldn’t you ensure that, through effective communication, you keep your staff motivated, help them engage fully with your company’s purpose and goals, and ensure that they understand how they contribute to this? In other words, why wouldn’t you communicate with your staff in a way that shows they are valued?
Treby had more to say on this: “Historically, even companies who were quick to spend money on great customer-facing communications have ignored their internal audience. ‘Bringing in somebody from HR’ to write your staff newsletters isn’t the answer – they’re unlikely to be a communicator and will almost certainly struggle to find a strong and accessible writing voice. Forgetting to talk to staff in a language they understand first time round is a critical mistake, and has the potential for losing staff, money, and even commercial survival. There’s no point attracting flurries of excited new clients if the team that’s there to deliver to them hasn’t been told how to do it – or what’s in it for them.”
According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, organisational culture and engagement continue to be top priorities for businesses, with employee experience ranking as a major trend. Effective, accessible communication is, of course, crucial here. But despite nearly 80% of executives rating employee experience as very important, 59% of survey respondents reported being either not ready or only somewhat ready to address the challenge of employee experience.
Employee engagement and employee experience are perhaps seen as being so important by companies, I would argue, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they have to be.
We’re living in a world where Millennials – or Generation Y, born between 1981-1997 – make up the largest part of the workforce and are now represented in senior and managerial positions. They are communication-driven, and media and tech savvy. They have different expectations of employment to their Baby Boomer and Generation X predecessors: they value collaboration, transparency and feedback, in a workplace where they can truly engage with their job and enjoy it. And coming up right behind them are Generation Z – digital natives, influenced by communication and technology from an early age, and entering the workforce for the first time. Not only do they expect to be communicated with well; they expect to be able to access that communication digitally and on-the-go. It's no longer good enough to have your internal communications online – they need to be mobile too.
This all leaves much food for thought for organisations and their internal communications. But what it boils down to is being able to deliver a clear message, well written, and accessible to all employees, whoever and wherever they are.