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Category: Communications

How to keep your remote employees engaged

Over the past decade, technology has facilitated a major shift in how we do business.  Many workers have moved from office settings to remote working.  In 2020 this shift accelerated even more rapidly due to COVID-19 and the need to adopt social distancing for the health and safety of employees and their families.  Companies are adapting on the fly in the ways they communicate and conduct day-to-day operations.  While this shift has helped businesses stay productive, the sudden change has left some employees feeling less engaged. 

Managers are suddenly faced with the question, “How do we support our employees who are now forced to work remotely?”  Sudden changes like this can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan in place.  In order to make sure you are doing all you can to support your remote employees here are a few internal communications best practices to keep them engaged:

Keep in Contact

This seems simple but it’s easy to miss the mark.  Make sure your employees feel supported and connected to their peers and managers.  Host virtual team meeting and check-ins multiple times a month. Keeping employees in the loop about the company’s big picture and their role in it helps them feel valued and included, promotes a healthy attitude toward otherwise stressful changes, and ensures everyone is aligned and headed in the right direction.

Celebrate your Employees

People want to feel that they are valued.  Introduce an employee recognition program to celebrate when your team members go above and beyond.  Everyone appreciates a pat on the back for a job well done.  Also small things like calling out work anniversaries and birthdays will make your employees feel appreciated and let them know that you’re thinking about them.

Ramp up Training

Give your employees the tools to be successful.  Employee training in any business is an investment, not an expense.  When employees are well trained, they perform with skill and confidence.  Make sure your employees feel prepared to work remotely and promote continued growth and development.  Implementing training programs for video conferencing, webinars, and any new programs will help employees feel assured.     

Need more ideas on keeping employees engaged? Get in touch: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

As COVID-19 Continues, Employees Want More Communications

As we enter the fourth month of the global pandemic, employees seek more communication and connection with their managers according to a new survey from Gallup.

The survey, conducted in June, shows that employee preparedness and alignment is down 20% from the previous month.  Key findings include:

  • 41% say that my employer has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus.
  • 41% say I feel well prepared to do my job.
  • 41% say my immediate supervisor keeps me informed about what’s going on.
  • 42% say my organization cares about my overall well-being.

During this time of uncertainty, let your employees know what they can count on at work by purposefully dialing up on communications with these three actions.

Prepare managers to coach

The best managers know their role is to support others through change. People are different, and will have different reactions in the workplace to this challenging issue.  That’s why maintaining dialogue is so important. Train managers to connect and check in with employees and provide resources and tools to use when coaching team members.

Share and update your workplace safety preparedness plan

If team members are working on-site, they want to know that their safety is important to the company leadership.  Communicate your COVID-19 preparedness plan, ensuring it is specific to your workplace, includes control measures to reduce exposure, and maintains a safe and healthy work environment.  Provide an update in every communication from leadership.  For those working remotely with an upcoming return date, spell out the plan so that they know what to expect. This issue will be top of mind for your team members throughout this year, so one and done communications won’t be enough.

Activate two-way communication channels

What process do you have in place to gather feedback from team members right now? Some companies have rescheduled or shelved employee surveys during this period.  Employees still need to feel valued, heard, and engaged. Consider online town halls, message boards and group chats, or polls and QR code surveys for immediate feedback.  Then, and this is important, act on the feedback.  Share what you heard and let it guide your communications.

Looking for communications support for your business?  Insight can help.  Get in touch with us.

Internal Communications Best Practices for the Pandemic

By now, some of us have been working from home, sheltering in place for six weeks and it’s not clear when we’ll return to work as we experienced it before. Unprecedented is too small a word to use to describe the toll: 2.7 million coronavirus cases globally and 26 million Americans have filed jobless claims.

Now more than ever, communications from company leadership is key to building trust and maintaining focus. In many businesses, leaders are working around the clock to determine a path forward. Proactively communicating with employees must be part of that strategy. Here are some practical tips to keep your team members connected and focused.

1.      Start with Compassion

Many of your employees have been affected by the virus. Whether impacted personally by illness, caring for family or friends, supervising home schooling, or taking care of children, everyone is dealing with something. Be concerned about employees’ and health and safety. Direct them to Employee Assistance Programs and other company-sponsored benefits. Provide a sincere thank you to everyone keeping things moving for the business and your customers. Be human and sincere.

 2.      Be Clear about the Way Forward

Things are bad everywhere and everyone knows it. Communicate the steps being taken to preserve the health of your business. Identify the biggest challenges and what the leadership team is doing to address them. Be positive about what is working well. Ask everyone to encourage and support colleagues and customers, in ways big and small. Show pride and share stories of how your people support the community and each other.

3.      Empower Two-Way Communication

People consume information in different ways, so use all the channels available to your business. Resources like blogs, email, video, and the company intranet are effective, but also provide a way to collect and encourage feedback from team members. Make it easy to access. Ask for ideas on redeploying resources, increasing efficiency, and creatively solve problems. When employees feel heard, they perform well.

4.      Lean on Line Managers

This is the time for your line managers to shine. While online town halls and video conferencing from leaders are essential to provide clarity, the most credible source is the manager. Prepare managers with talking points so the message is clear and consistent.

Need help with internal communications?  Get in touch: Maureen.clayton@insight-communication.com

Three Internal Communication Fails and How to Fix Them

A recent conversation with a smart, successful corporate leader has me still shaking my head. He was reflecting on the lack of urgency and so-so performance of some of their teams. “They just don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t know how we can get through to them.”
It doesn’t take the investigative powers of Sherlock Holmes to identify a disconnect between the business strategy and employee performance. The failure here is not on the part of the employees, it’s the communications strategy.
Sustained communications remind everyone of what you’re trying to achieve together. Here are three frequent internal communication fails and how to fix them:

No consistent communications
Without communications, employees create their own narrative. No matter what channel works best for your business, choose a communications timetable and stick to it. Ad hoc doesn’t work. The message doesn’t need to be long, or over-produced. Sometimes an update, or a checklist or outlook for the next 30 days is enough. When weeks and months go by without a message from the leader, don’t expect employees to think things are OK.

No clarity on the big picture
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was focused on the same goals? A survey by Weber Shandwick found that only four in 10 employees can describe what their employer does and only 37% know the company’s goals. Ugh! Leaders must be relentless in connecting people to purpose by clearly communicating the company purpose, mission and goals. Just when you’re sick of talking about it, you’re reaching someone for the first time.

Relying on email as your go-to channel
We’ve been talking about the death of email as an effective internal communications tool forever, but the dominance of millennials in the workplace should finally do it in. Every generation has a communication preference and the future is digital. If you’re relying on email to communicate with employees, you’ve got a problem. Add other channels to your communications mix and consider cloud-based products like Slack, GSuite or Microsoft teams.

Looking for ways to improve clarity, alignment, and trust with your employees? Need some help with that? Get in touch: Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com

Lessons from Apple’s Decision to Kill iTunes

When iTunes debuted 18 years ago, it was a radical concept.  Don’t buy the whole album; pay 99 cents for the one song you like. Get a thousand songs in your pocket!

Apple made the announcement this month that it would move to three individual dedicated apps for music, podcasts and TV. Users can maintain their iTunes libraries and choose to subscribe to Apple Music. Pundits agreed it was the right move, even though it’s the end of an era.

Think about your business communications:  what channels or practices do you need to put the brakes on?

Sometimes we stick with a communications process or channel because it’s comfortable.  It’s worked in the past.  It’s a no brainer to produce it.  But it takes a bit of courage to realize that what worked before isn’t working now or is not sustainable in the future.  Change can be unsettling, but it’s also troubling to find out your newsletter or intranet or CEO blog is ineffective because it has no audience.

Ready to evaluate your internal communications strategy? Get in touch with me: maureen.clayton@insight-communication.com.

Involving Employees in Process Improvement

What is your least favorite thing to do? For some people it’s cleaning their house, for others it’s going to the grocery store and for some it’s working out.  It’s not that they don’t like the end result.  A fresh clean house, a fridge full of groceries or the feeling after finishing a workout are all very satisfying and produce tangible results.  They will tell you that they don’t enjoy the process.

This concept can also apply to business.  How does your business engage employees to share ideas to make the business better?  Involvement opportunities drive engagement, particularly with millennials.  Everyone wants to work smarter, not harder.

One way to involve employees is by implementing a processes improvement program. Start with a survey, suggestion request or contest.  Employee feedback can help you quickly target where you can improve and unlock potential.  Ask employees to provide suggestions on how and where the business can grow, innovate, save money, or do things a different way.  Some categories to consider are:

  • Reducing waste and time
  • Decreasing costs
  • Improving efficiency
  • Enhancing customer experiences
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Promoting collaboration across the business

Once you’ve collected employee ideas and discovered an area where you can improve, be sure to clearly communicate the new process and connect it to the process improvement program.  Thank those who participated for their input, describe what is changing and explain the benefits.  

Your employees are an invaluable asset.  Give them an opportunity to help improve your processes and the long-term results will benefits your business. Share your your stories with me at: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Six Secrets to Trade Show Success

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to get some face to face time with potential customers.  Recently our company attended a national conference and trade show in Las Vegas.  It was our fourth consecutive year exhibiting at this trade show and many of the same companies we see every year were in attendance.  Some of the exhibitors always do a fantastic job, while others are missing the potential to maximize their ROI.

Here are six best practices that that you can use when preparing for and attending your company’s next trade show:

  1. Start preparing well in advance. Getting a jump on your trade show prep is vital.  Send out a preconference email to the list of attendees, map out your show strategy with your exhibit team, create product/service sales sheets, take care of any printing needs for handouts and schedule equipment and promotional item shipping.
  2. Make sure your messages are clear and consistent. The most common question I get at trade shows is “So what do you guys do?”  Each member of your sales team should be able to give a 30 second response to this question.   Determine how you want to promote your company, create an elevator speech, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  3. Keep the messaging on your display and signage short and readable. Trade show participants move through the exhibit floor pretty quickly. All of your signage should be easily readable from the front of your booth.   One mistake that I often notice is when exhibitors cram too much information onto their signage or use fonts that are too small. Provide just enough information to make attendees stop and ask questions.
  4. Always provide giveaways. Who doesn’t like free stuff?  Providing a giveaway will draw more traffic to your booth and is a great conversation starter.  Always include your company logo or name on the product. It will remind potential customers of your interaction when they visited your booth after the conference.
  5. Stay active on social media. Most conferences will promote a hashtag to use throughout the event. Post photos, give updates, announce speaking sessions and promote your booth number using the conference hashtag.  This is a great way to drive engagement. Don’t forget to post a thank you to everyone who stopped by your booth after the conference.
  6. Schedule a post conference wrap up meeting.  It’s important to get feedback from your team while the conference is fresh on their minds.  What worked, what didn’t work? What questions did the attendees have?   What were your strongest leads and what are the next steps for contacting these potential customers?  All of this information will give you a head start when planning your next trade show.

Do you have any trade show tips? Share them with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Integrating Video into your Internal Communications Strategy

If you’re like us, you’re always looking for ways to get your message across in a new, unique, and interesting way.   One communication channel that you might not have considered is video.  Video is fast becoming the preferred channel for internal audiences because it’s the way we all consume information. Some news outlets have moved exclusively to video content and most include a video with any written content they publish.  Today’s workforce has become accustomed to learning and acquiring information through video content.

Many of your colleagues are visual learners and video content helps simplify complex information and drives engagement when you communicate your message.  Think about it. Which is more appealing– an email memo from the CEO or a quick 3-5 minute video where he or she speaks directly to your employees?

Research shows that people remember more of what they see and hear than what they read.  Video grabs your attention and is more engaging than plain text.  Seizing and retaining your audience’s attention is crucial.  When you have their attention, they’ll retain the message.

Here are some options to consider when implementing videos into your Internal Communications strategy:

  • Online training videos or tutorials
  • Monthly or quarterly updates from your leaders
  • Announcement videos for new programs or initiatives
  • Recognition videos for company milestones or exemplary achievements
  • Employee interviews and testimonials
  • Videos of companywide events, such a community service day or group activity

Now you might be thinking, “I’m not a technical person” or “That would be too difficult to implement,” but it really isn’t.  New technology has simplified video creation, editing and sharing to the point where anyone can do it.

Keep your videos short with a clear message.   There are really no limits or restrictions to how you incorporate video content into your company’s communication plan.  Think outside the box and see what ideas you can come up with.

Does your company use video content in its internal communications?  Share your experiences and ideas with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Supporting and preparing your colleagues during times of crisis

According to the National Weather Service, 2017 was a “hyperactive and catastrophic hurricane season”.  With over 3,000 deaths and $282+ billion dollars in damages it was the costliest ever in death toll and destruction.  We all remember the three major ones – Harvey, Irma and Maria and the harm they caused.

Just this week it was announced that another major storm will make landfall.  Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the coast of North Carolina this weekend and with its arrival many millions of people will be displaced and there is potential for major damage to countless homes and businesses.

It’s important that in times of crisis your business is prepared with a plan of action to communicate with employees and stakeholders.  Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, blizzard or other natural disaster always ensure the wellbeing of your employees as they are your company’s most important asset.

  • Develop an emergency response plan with information for business offices with evacuation routes, emergency contacts, and safety procedures for your employees
  • Close your offices well in advance
  • Set up a crisis hotline or contact page where employees can get updates and stay connected
  • Make sure data backup systems are operational and fortify your office area before the disaster hits
  • Form a relief group to help recovery efforts or set up a relief fund for those effected by the disaster

Does your company have an emergency response plan? Please share your insights and ideas with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Building Brand Loyalty through Smart Social Media

The term bridezilla is not flattering but can be accurate.

Recently Courtney Duffy, a grad student at Dartmouth, booked a JetBlue weekend flight to her friend Alex’s wedding.  (She was one of the bridesmaids).  When the bride found out Courtney couldn’t stay through Monday, she emailed her and asked her to step aside and to mail her the garment so a replacement bridesmaid could wear it.

Courtney posted the exchange on Twitter with a plea to JetBlue to refund her airfare.  They did that and more. In four hours, they posted this on Twitter:

“Hey Courtney, we’ve been thinking.  The jumpsuit may have been borrowed, but we’ll bring the (Jet)Blue.  When you’re ready to patch things up, we’d like to help make your old friendship feel like a new.  A future girls’ weekend is on us.”

The story just begs for a follow up.  Will Courtney and Alex reconnect as BFFs? Can they find a replacement bridesmaid in time (and can she fit in Alex’s jumpsuit)?

The clear winner is JetBlue.  Here’s why:

  • They monitored social media channels and responded quickly
  • They delivered on the customer’s request for a refund
  • They showed the brands’ personality. Encouraging the former pals to reunite for a girls’ weekend is an unexpected and positive twist to the story.

The go-fast, digital era we’re living in requires businesses to pay attention to social media channels and act quickly.  It’s a PR game changer.  JetBlue was able to respond within a few hours to Courtney’s challenge and sweeten the deal.  That nimble response reveals their social media team is empowered to act.  In many businesses, in the time it took for internal approvals, the opportunity would have vanished, and so would the PR benefit.

When brands engage and act humane, customers respond with loyalty.  Interested in accelerating your social media presence?  Let’s connect.  Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com