In an increasingly distributed workplace, with more employees working from home and disruptive forces wreaking schedule havoc, companies must prioritize employee communication. Because just as the pandemic has affected all aspects of our work and personal lives, so too has it impacted employee engagement and the employee experience. Gallup found that while in May of this year, employee engagement reached 38%, its highest point since they started measuring it twenty years ago, that number dropped seven percentage points just one month later.
By deploying technology tools specifically designed to make it easy for managers and executives to communicate with every employee, regardless of where they are located or what type of network or device they are using, companies can ensure their workers are informed and engaged regardless of what life throws at them. In the process, they can increase profitability by boosting employee productivity and innovation; minimize risk by ensuring all employees are always aware of the latest policies and procedures; improve the company brand by building a great place to work and creating loyal and enthusiastic employee advocates; and gain a competitive advantage by enabling the entire workforce to react quickly to changing market realities and business needs.
Content is Key
Start by using curated content to keep your employees connected to the company and ensure they are aligned on business strategies, objectives and brand positioning. This is the content you might until now have distributed through traditional channels, such as printed newsletters, magazines, postcards and flyers. But with electronic messaging, you can easily use segmentation and targeting to ensure employees receive only the information they need, helping them cut through the noise and focus on what’s important.
You can also quickly reach employees with messaging to address urgent changes to the business, local weather alerts, pandemic updates and so on. Built-in clickwrap capabilities make it easy to get acknowledgment from employees that they understand and will abide by all terms and conditions of use.
Use the same platform to offer easy access to job-related tools via quick custom links—but make sure they have clear navigation tools, so they see only those apps and updates that are relevant to them and their job role(s). Similarly, you need to make sure to deliver personalized/customized information, so that employees learn to trust that time spent engaging with the content will be worthwhile.
Access is Critical
It’s always been important to give employees access to company updates, software and information via mobile apps, but it’s even more critical today. Still, you’ll want to limit the number of apps, links and sites an employee needs to access; that will increase usage and deliver a more powerful impact.
Provide a feedback mechanism for employees through quick-pulse polls or in-depth surveys, so that they always have a place to ask questions or offer feedback.
Create a sense of community even among a distributed workforce by sharing employee stories, successes and personal accomplishments. Humanize executive leadership by having them deliver regular, actionable updates—and keep it open to feedback and comments from the frontlines.
Use the same platform to create a single destination for all safety-related news and information using categories, custom pages, document repositories and/or quick links. But be sure to broadcast safety policies to employees and request acknowledgment as appropriate. It’s especially important to target safety content to the right employees based on their job role and location. Ideally, you should survey employees to confirm they understand policies, updates and regulations, and let users share safety concerns by uploading photos or videos as appropriate.
Flexibility is Now More Important than Ever
Give hourly and home-based workers the flexibility to access the platform when it’s convenient for them, and use the platform to send information and updates that might typically be shared in person during pre-shift, team or department meetings. This lets all workers get access to the news, even if they are out sick or taking PTO.
Make it easy for employees to access and share company information and current job openings on their personal social media networks, and share third-party content on industry news, thought leadership and personal and professional development.
Finally, a note on company meetings as we are increasingly moving to a socially distanced workplace: as you go virtual, take the opportunity to shake things up. You may have heard of the “flipped” classroom model, in which teachers and professors record lectures and make them available to students to watch at their convenience; they then use synchronous class time (whether it’s in person or online) to discuss the material, pose and answer questions and run through problems and concerns. Consider taking a similar approach to team, department and company meetings. Record them in advance, and make them available to employees for online viewing for a week or two; then, offer a place where employees can ask questions related to the announcement—and use them to create an FAQ. Finally, hold small-group meetings in real-time (again, either in person or online) to hold discussions about the topic at hand.
In fact, why limit this new normal to specific announcements? If executives and managers want to really engage with their people, they should always offer a way for employees to ask questions—then post (honest) answers for all to see. And, they should offer meetings to small groups around the organization on a regular basis (again, either in person or online) to have open dialogs about what workers are seeing, hearing and feeling as they go about their jobs.
Because no matter how you get the message across, the goal should be the same: treating your workers with authenticity and respect will deliver engagement, loyalty and profits in return.