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Go Green! Inspire Awareness and Conservation on Earth Day

After graduating from college, a friend of mine moved to Colorado.  As an outdoorsman, he couldn’t wait to move out west.  To fund his outdoor hobbies (skiing, fishing, hiking), he got a job working for a finance company.   He had recently attained a promotion and was doing well but he felt like he wasn’t being fulfilled.  He wanted to do something to give back to the environment.  So he’s making a career change.   He recently was accepted to law school where he will study Natural Resource and Environmental Law.

He’s not alone in seeking a career that’s focused on purpose, not paycheck.  Pew Research reports that millennials are the “most sustainable generation to date.” Sustainability is not a short term trend. Sustainability and green initiatives are important issues for today’s workforce.  Employees expect the company that they work for to do what it can to help the environment.

Earth Day is April 22.  This is a great time to promote your company’s green initiatives. Here are five easy to introduce strategies that will improve efficiency, reduce your carbon foot print, save money and build engagement with employees:

  • Incentivize carpooling or car sharing programs for employees
  • Promote electronic document usage to reduce paper waste
  • Provide recycling collection areas with signs about what can be recycled
  • Reduce plastic waste. Instead of stocking disposable water bottles, provide employees with reusable water bottles with your company logo
  • Inform employees about your company’s recycling and green programs.  Ask for volunteers for a “green team” to make recommendations about green initiatives.

What does your company do promote sustainability? Please share your stories and idea with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

How to Communicate About Incentive Plan Results

For many corporate employees, this is bonus season.  In February, when year-end results are being finalized, the buzz builds. Will we make bonus, and by how much?  In March, the anticipation is unmistakable.

Whether the news is good or bad, bonus season gives leaders a spotlight to connect individual performance and business results.  While the architecture of bonus plans vary, most include a performance-related reward with a pay out when the company’s financial results and the individual’s performance meet set criteria.  For example, when Apple missed sales and profit goals for 2016, Tim Cook saw a cut to his performance-based cash incentive.  Don’t worry about Tim. Overall, he still did pretty well.

Whether the news is good or bad, the way you tell the story will impact employee engagement. Let’s look at communication strategies for both scenarios.

When the incentive target is achieved

  • Explain how it works.  The only people who truly understand the bonus system work in Compensation.  Prior to bonus announcement, send out a review of the bonus program with visual examples.  Provide an online bonus calculator.
  • Celebrate.  Good news should never be buried in an email. Create a brief video from the senior leadership team thanking employees for their contributions last year. An authentic thank you is always appreciated.
  • Set expectations for the current year. High performance cultures innovate, collaborate and continuously improve. Now is the time to be talking about 2017 stretch goals and aligning performance and priorities so bonuses are achieved in 2018. Create talking points for managers to cascade.

When the incentive target is missed

  • Explain how it works.  See above. Talk through the plan structure.  If thresholds were not achieved, clarify how that impacted pay outs. Remind employees that the bonus is just one component of a comprehensive rewards package and it’s performance-based. It’s extra pay for exceptional results.
  • Pre-announcement preparations.  Prepare for this like you would for a customer or shareholder meeting.  Compose key messages, draft FAQs and ensure managers are informed and prepared.  Set up a channel for employee questions.
  • Hold town hall meetings.  Where did the company fall short? Talk about it. Listen, answer questions, and discuss priorities and opportunities for 2017.

Proactive communications help connect the dots for team members. Businesses win when everyone knows, understands and lives the company’s values.  Show them their contributions make a difference.

Promoting Workplace Wellness

A recent poll stated that approximately 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.  In that same poll the number one New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.  These numbers show that your team members are conscious about their health.  So how do you turn resolutions into habits?

This is the perfect time of year to introduce or reinvent your company Wellness Program.  Employee wellness is often seen as a personal issue, but there tangible benefits for businesses to promote health and wellness.   U.S. healthcare costs are predicted to rise 6.5% in 2017 and cost sharing between businesses and employees continues to accelerate.

Wellness Programs can contribute to lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism and decrease workers compensations claims.  Research shows that employees who take part in Wellness Programs are more engaged and more productive.  Here are a few ideas your business can use to create excitement and promote healthy lifestyles.

Host a Wellness Expo

An event dedicated to understanding employee benefits and healthy living creates excitement and comradery.  Make sure to promote the event with fun, consistent messaging that explains event activities and overall goals of the expo.  Here are some activities to include in your plan:

·         Cooking Demos

·         Wellness Challenges

·         Interactive Fitness Sessions

·         Biometric Screenings & Flu Shots

·         Raffles

·         Health food snack giveaways

·         “Wear your work out wear to the office” day

Create a Wellness Rewards Program

Creating a wellness rewards program is another great way to promote healthy living.  The idea is simple: incentivize your employees for healthy lifestyle choices.   Set up wellness benchmarks, ask employees to track participation and when a certain threshold is met, they receive a wellness incentive. Offer monetary rewards or reduction in insurance premiums for completing preventative care screenings, biometric exams or completing tobacco cessation programs.   Create a program to promote and track fitness or wellness activities and offer rewards at different levels. For example complete four activities, get a T-shirt, at eight activities a gym bag, and be entered into a grand prize raffle at twelve activities.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

·         Participate in an organized walking, running, or cycling event

·         Get a flu shot or give blood

·         Have your teeth cleaned

·         Coach a youth sports team

·         Participate on a sports team: softball, basketball, kickball

·         Go to an aerobics class or work out at a gym

·         Go for a hike or walk

·         Eat balanced, healthy meals for 1 week and keep a food diary

Partner with Health Experts

Identify non-profit health organizations in your community to share health information.  Organizations like the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society and Diabetes Foundation have downloadable toolkits, information sheets and other resources available at no cost. Invite a speaker to a lunch and learn at your business or participate in a fundraising event.

How does your company promote Wellness?  Please share your ideas and suggestions with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

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Four Ways to be a Better Communicator in 2017

Successful leaders know that effective communications are a competitive advantage.  As you begin 2017, make a resolution to evaluate the health of your employee communications. Are business goals and actions aligned? Do employees understand priorities and do they have a way to participate and share ideas?

Everyone talks about the importance of communications, but it’s just lip service without an actionable plan.   Here are four ways to commit to better communications in 2017.

1) Map out your communications calendar right now—Begin with a “Welcome to 2017” message. Schedule dates for the entire year now to ensure it remains a priority. Keep the content fresh with a mix of performance results, customer and employee stories, and encouragement.  We all need more of that.

2) Articulate the vision— If a customer asks an employee what your business was about, what would they say? Everyone on your team should use the same headline.  When people can connect their work to big goals, they are more engaged.  Leaders who communicate the vision and values, then put those values into action, see performance climb.

3) Use stories to make an impact—Think back to the most recent story that struck a chord with you.  Was it complicated or overstuffed with facts?  Simple stories make an emotional connection with the audience and hold their attention.  Use your own experiences to make a point.  I recently heard the president of a large hospitality group say that he makes time for fitness daily because “We only get one set of parts and I want mine to last.”  That’s memorable and tells me something interesting about him. Leaders who share a little of themselves in communications are viewed as credible and human.

4) Get visual—Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.  If you rely on email as your primary form of communication, know that there is a better way. In 2016, there were 4.6 billion cell phone users in the world and most phones have video or photo capability. Your team members are viewing or creating visual media every day. Use photos and video as frequently as you use memos. Video is an excellent way to improve message retention, connect with remote workers, and engage senior leadership with teams.  The best part is you don’t have to have a large budget or be an on-camera pro.  If you’re sincere, it will be memorable.

That will get you started.  Need some help in communications planning for 2017?  Get in touch.

Five Ways to Build Engagement through Year-End Communications

 

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This time of year, a kind of holiday haze sets in. The breakroom counters are bursting with tins of holiday cookies and flavored popcorn.  Employees are focusing on completing 2016 assignments (and scheduling holiday getaways).

December marks the fiscal year-end for many businesses.  Help your employees successfully navigate through the many December deadlines with proactive communications that show you care about more than the bottom line.  Here are five tried-and-true ways to do it.

1.       Clarify year-end deadlines.  Start your team meetings with a reminder or checklist of deadlines for invoice processing, Flexible Spending Accounts, finalize expense reports, and other year-end deliverables. This messaging should begin December 1 and continue through the month.

2.       Communicate vacation benefits. Paid time off is treasured by employees. If your business has a “use it or lose it” vacation policy, remind team members so they can schedule time off before year-end.  If your company allows vacation accrual, communicate the accrual limit. Ensure there are no surprises in January.

3.       Come together through service. Studies show that volunteerism increases pride, commitment and employee engagement.  Contact a local charity, food bank or civic association for ideas on how your team can get involved during the holidays.

4.       Celebrate 2016 achievements. Create a top ten list of your team’s “Greatest Hits of 2016” or ask team members to talk about one thing that helped them be successful this year. Connect the dots to show how every role contributes to delivering performance and your company’s vision.

5.       Say thank you.  To make a connection that lasts, send a personal note of thanks. Low cost, big impact. Be sincere and make it personal by including a strength or a behavior the individual brings to the team.