In a perfect world, all of your employees would be excited to come to work every day.
They would always be motivated on the job. They would speak well of your organization at every opportunity. They would identify opportunities for you to delight customers, top the competition and improve your business.
It’s not about joining hands and singing “Kumbaya” in the breakroom. It’s about employees continually thinking of ways to work together, proactively solving problems, as well as sharing a positive and contagious attitude that would be infectious with customers.
Back here in the real world, though, it’s unrealistic to expect that sunny outlook from every employee.
But high-performing organizations understand the critical urgency of creating a workplace environment where as many employees as possible do feel energized each day. They’re actively searching for ways to make sure that “work” isn’t synonymous with “drudgery” because they see the direct correlation between motivated employees and the bottom line.
This is why you’re hearing so much about how employee experience, employee engagement, and Employee Value Proposition are now part of the strategic vision at forward-thinking companies. Designing a world-class employee experience requires leveraging modern communication capabilities.
This is driving demand for a new category of technology – Employee Communications Management.
The simple idea is that organizations thrive when there is great, honest, and open communication between the workers and the company. And with 74 percent of employees reporting that they miss out on crucial company communication, there is plenty of room for improvement.
Communication and engagement are the catalysts that activate employees and transform businesses. They are critical every time an organization has to adapt, change and compete – which is basically all of the time.
Consider the historically tight labor market. Employees who feel unappreciated can – at the drop of a hat – find other jobs. Samuel Stern, a Principal Analyst at Forrester, recently wrote that this explains the attention organizations now are paying to the employee experience.
“What’s more,” Stern added, “companies that care about customer experience — and almost every executive at least pays lip service to customer focus these days — know that their potential to deliver high-quality customer experiences is limited by the quality of their employee experiences.”
This doesn’t automatically happen. There needs to be a focus on making employees feel confident that they’re informed and aligned with the goals of leadership – the essence of Employee Communications Management.
“Communication is the absolute, No. 1 thing in retaining employees,” said Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications and the publisher of ragan.com and PR Daily. “People want to love the place where they work. They want to feel like they have an impact, that they have a mission, that they’re doing good, and they want to understand their role. If you don’t answer questions like that, the culture starts to deteriorate, and it instantly impacts everything across the company. Employees start to leave. Well, communication is the key to culture.”
No organization wants employees heading for the exits . . . or staying and just going through the motions to collect a paycheck. Yes, it’s common sense that an engaged workforce is a good thing. But there’s also extensive research that shows just how much businesses benefit when employees are truly engaged.
- Organizations with higher employee engagement see 24 percent greater worker retention, 21 percent higher profitability, and 17 percent more productivity, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, released in 2017.
- Employees who trust their employer are far more likely to advocate for an organization, be engaged, remain loyal, and stay committed than their skeptical counterparts, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer.
- When organizations deliver a strong Employee Value Proposition, they can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70 percent and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30 percent, according to the Gartner analyst firm.
Gallup, the authority in workplace research, released another report in 2018 that, at first glance, was highly encouraging. It found that the percentage of engaged U.S. employees (those who are enthusiastic and committed to their work) had reached 34 percent – the highest number since Gallup began reporting a figure in 2000. The percentage of actively disengaged employees (those who have miserable work experiences) dropped to its lowest level ever at 13 percent.
Sounds great, right? But a more pessimistic view is that 66 percent of American workers still are not engaged – two-thirds. In fact, the report concluded that the 53 percent of workers who filled the “not engaged” bucket will do the minimum effort required on the job and quickly leave for an even a slightly better offer.
Clearly, there is much more work for organizations to do in the realm of employee engagement – and reap the corresponding benefits. Jim Harter, Gallup’s Chief Scientist for Workplace Management & Well-Being, explained how organizations that succeed in engaging their employees report earnings-per-share growth that is four times that of competitors. He added that Gallup has seen similarities among the organizations that dramatically improve employee engagement.
“The changes didn’t happen by accident,” Harter wrote. “These successful organizations built a culture of high development experiences that led to high achievement. The culture shift was CEO- and board-supported and included continuous company-wide communication.”
This is why Employee Communications Management plays a role in creating the kind of organizational change that can result in a great workplace environment.
There are many ways to describe the effort to design an employee-centric culture.
A recent Wall Street Journal story, “Why Perks No Longer Cut It for Employees,” noted that culture isn’t about fun and games around the office. “What will distinguish the most profitable companies from the rest in the coming year won’t be whether they offer foosball or free food,” according to the Journal. “It will be whether leaders foster a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, like their jobs and trust their managers to help them move on to a better one.”
The Journal article also noted that this is a smart way to develop and retain top talent. It cited a study by Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP about how the most profitable companies “are actively cultivating current workers to fill future openings.”
Another article in Forbes made the point that employee experience is a “bottom-up concept” where organizations are trying to design workflows, spaces, and processes around what workers already expect. “Just like retailers are changing based on customer activity and desire, workplaces are following suit,” the authors wrote. Meanwhile, Gallup defines employee experience as “the journey people take with your organization and the interactions they have with managers and associates at each stage of the life cycle.”
The McKinsey Global Institute talks about Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which it describes as the “why” around an organization. These are the attributes of an employment experience that attract and retain top talent. What workers value most. How an organization separates itself from its competitors. The company’s promise to its people.
McKinsey believes that when a company has a strong EVP, it sees:
- Higher employee engagement
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Reduced hiring costs
- Better candidate quality
- Improved retention rate
Dynamic Signal, the leading Employee Communication and Engagement Platform, views Employee Communications Management on a continuum. Think of it as a three-step journey: Connect, Engage, Activate.
Connected employees are receiving the right information at the right time. Organizations can reach all of their employees – on the channels they prefer – with what they need to excel on the job and be aware of important company news.
Sounds like Internal Communication 101, right? But experienced communicators know this is much more difficult than it seems. Traditional communication systems are designed for how companies want to disseminate information, not how employees want to receive it. Workers have to visit the company intranet or wade through company emails.
And what if employees don’t even have access to the intranet or a corporate email account? In fact, an estimated 80 percent of global employees are “deskless” workers. This means they’re always on the go. They’re not sitting at desks. They’re on factory floors, hospital wards, retail floors, driving trucks, and so on. Oh, and every employee now expects to receive company information the same way they get news in their personal lives – on their mobile devices.
This is why having an Employee Communications Management process that puts information at the fingertips on every employee is a huge step in improving workplace culture.
Engaged employees have all the information they need to do their jobs, which makes them more productive. They can also provide immediate feedback to leadership. Authentic communication isn’t a lecture. It’s a conversation. Information flows in both directions between management and the workforce – as well as laterally in productive, operational peer-to-peer dialogue among colleagues.
It’s imperative that organizations realize employees need the ability to both collaborate with colleagues and be in direct communication with leadership. They are equally important. But these also are two, distinct functions that cannot happen on the same channel if they’re going to be effective.
Great employee experience also requires that workers feel like they’re being heard. This is especially important to younger Millennial workers because a wealth of research has shown that they expect their work to have some higher purpose.
This kind of feedback doesn’t happen in a once-a-year engagement survey. It needs to be a continuous, structured dialogue. Employees want to be able to provide quick feedback on issues of the day. When senior executives announce a new initiative, today’s employees want to know the “why” behind those decisions. They also expect the ability to offer their comments and opinions.
Activated employees are empowered to take personal initiative on the job, represent company values, and become passionate brand advocates. These are enthusiastic employees who go above and beyond. They are committed to their work, the workplace, and embody the values of the organization. They identify and seize opportunities to make the company better.
This happens when employees feel the organization is committed to them. The mission of the company is communicated to them continuously. They see evidence that the company is fulfilling its mission and behaving consistently with the stated values. They always know what’s going on. They can report and solve problems immediately. They know they matter.
When employees are empowered like this, they respond with their best effort. The organization cares about me, so I’m going to care about the organization. These kinds of employees are like gold when you consider that they have the most interaction with customers and can do more than anyone in terms of creating a positive image for your brand.
Top Ten Ways to Identify Your Activated Employees:
- Look to improve products, systems, and procedures
- Drive innovation
- Share ideas
- Understand policies, goals, and tasks
- Help teammates and customers
- Always seek to do their best
- Promote company externally
- Believe in company values and culture
- Trust in management
It’s not just that your best and brightest share these traits. Every employee can embody these characteristics through communication when they feel invested in the organization. That’s why the connect-engage-activate model has a profound impact on businesses ¬– including how brands are perceived.
“A front-line employee who feels good about the company and feels connected is going to affect the customer experience in a positive way,” said David Armano, Global Strategy Director at Edelman. “That directly tracks to improved productivity for the company. Employees who feel strong connections to a company also are the ones who tend to vocalize great things about the organization. The goal should always be getting employees more engaged, more connected, and just making them feel better about the company.”
Employee Communications Management helps achieve that. Activated employees are an organization’s most significant advantage at a time when labor markets are ultra-competitive.
Workplace culture is no longer a secret inside your organization. Thanks to social media, we live in a transparent world. Employees talk, share opinions on social media, and share again. Oh, and they post Glassdoor reviews. It’s why employee experience has emerged as such a strategic priority. A company’s brand today is what their employees say and post.
You better believe that customers and potential employers are paying attention, too.
Gallup explains it this way: The stakes are “higher than ever when it comes to reputation, hiring talented people, customer engagement and the bottom line.”
Organizations can project a better brand image – and more – through better strategies that engage with employees. The 2019 Dynamic Signal Communication-to-Activation Impact Study of more than 160 randomly selected customer contacts found a 30 percent increase in employee engagement when using the Dynamic Signal platform as part of Employee Communications Management.
Other findings included:
- 106 percent increase in social media reach
- 39 percent increase in brand awareness
- 20 percent faster employee adoption of company initiatives
- 19 percent increase in the adoption of existing tools
- 18 percent higher CEO Approval Ratings
- 18 percent more rapid response to competitive threats
- 16 percent improvement in employee productivity
- 12 percent improvement in online reviews
The value can be seen across an organization. Employees are more motivated, know the impact of their role, and understand the direction of the company.
Employee Communications Management helps:
- Grow the Business – Increase employee productivity and innovation through meaningful engagement and information sharing
- Reduce Risk – Minimize attrition, disengaged employees, and improve response time in crisis situations
- Improve Brand Equity – Employees delivering a better customer experience and becoming authentic advocates for the organization
- Improve Business Agility – Rapid response to competitive threats
- Reduce Costs – Streamline employee communication and engagement systems and processes
Creating a workplace where everyone feels empowered is an incredibly worthy and inspiring goal for every organization. It also makes excellent business sense when you look at the real outcomes achieved by those that are investing in creating a strong employee experience.
Organizations that come closest to achieving that perfect world of a thriving company culture also are the most financially successful. When you’re able to reach all of your people – anywhere, anytime – amazing things can happen. This is the power of Employee Communications Management. There’s magic when employers connect, engage and activate their entire workforce.