It has been a whirlwind since I became CEO at Dynamic Signal in January. One of my priorities was meeting as many customers as possible to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face in creating a great employee experience at their organizations.
Over the last month, I’ve sat down with some of the best executives in business today. Leaders at Fortune 500 companies have told me why it’s so essential for their messaging to reach all of their constituents, all around the world. They’ve talked passionately about why it matters to get everyone behind the company mission and a shared vision on issues like diversity, inclusion, ethical behavior, and corporate social awareness.
They’re all looking to connect with every employee – as if they’re right in the room with them. They want their organizations to feel like connected communities with a common purpose.
So, I have already been hearing a lot about the fundamental difficulty of creating a company culture based on trust when the workforce is more dispersed than ever. Work no longer is a place where you go. Employees often can work almost anywhere. Yesterday’s communication tools – like email – are failing in a changing workplace where Gallup found that 43 percent of U.S. employees work at least part of the time remotely.
Then, over the past week or so, this conversation has become so much more poignant.
We’re all dealing with the uncertainty and disruption surrounding the coronavirus (Covid-19). It’s an unnerving time. Each of us hopes that healthcare experts can make rapid progress in preventing a more widespread outbreak.
In the meantime, companies grapple with keeping their people informed and safe while also showing an abundance of caution. As part of that, it’s no surprise there’s an increased focus on remote work. You can read some recent articles on the growing work-from-home movement here, here, and here.
Organizations already were thinking about what it means to be a digital workplace, and how they can best support every employee – including those who are remote workers. But now, suddenly, it’s more critical than ever.
Like many companies, we use the video-conferencing platform Zoom. It’s a great operational solution for connecting people in business meetings. We also use Microsoft Teams and Slack, which are both excellent collaboration software tools that help people work together.
Our company is an evangelist for employee experience and engagement. Our platform enables leaders to reach all workers, wherever they are, with the information they need to do their jobs better and be happier in the process. As a result, employees feel more connected, included, and engaged in the mission.
But recent events have made me think even more deeply about why employee communication matters.
Every organization wants to cut through the noise with clear messages while also limiting the number of distractions for employees. There needs to be a “source of truth” where employees can find reliable and up-to-date information. That’s especially vital today as developments change on an hourly basis, and people want to know how they impact their lives and the company.
But I think employee communication is also crucial on an entirely different level. The human connection is just as important as factual information.
People want to believe they’re part of something bigger than themselves. There’s a “longing to belong” innate to all of us. We want to feel that we’re a member of a team, a family, a community. We want to know that others care about us. The best companies create that kind of spirit where people aren’t just collecting a paycheck but devoting their energy to an endeavor worthwhile of their time and in the pursuit of a collective goal.
Employee communication is the foundation of that kind of culture.
And in difficult times, when people are understandably anxious and looking for answers, being as transparent as possible contributes to a sense that we’re all in this together – and we’ll get through it together.
What I’m doing is using our platform internally to keep our people informed about everything we know and the actions we’re taking to protect everyone. We’re also using video as an essential part of our comms strategy. By creating quick, short videos, I can talk directly to our workforce, which has offices in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Chicago, New York, London, and Belfast, as well as remote workers everywhere.
I communicate through video because I want people to see my face, the look in my eyes, and my body language. Video is much more authentic, credible, and empathetic.
It’s about creating trust and showing that we value everyone.
The market forces behind the evolving workplace aren’t going to change. Today’s employees want more work-life balance. Companies know they’ll get the best effort from their people when flexible policies also improve their personal lives. Everyone wins.
Hopefully, this crisis passes soon. But as another thoughtful article concluded: “Remote work is here to stay.”
So will the need for organizations to connect with every member of the workforce and align everyone behind a shared vision and core values.