Blog

Category: Engagement

Four Tips for Better Communications This Year

Everyone talks about the importance of employee communications, but it’s just lip service without an actionable plan.   Here are four ways to start the year off right and get better results from your internal communications.

1) Map out your communications calendar right now—Begin with a welcome 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— People are more engaged when they can connect their work to big goals.  Leaders who communicate the vision and values, and 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.  Simple stories make an emotional connection with the audience and hold their attention.  Use your own experiences to make a point.  I recently heard an executive tell his team 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 communication, know there is a better way. Use photos and videos 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 to create memorable content. 

Managers are the key to a successful culture

A strong corporate culture is built on two sturdy pillars: trust and engagement.  Both grow when employees have an emotional commitment to their role and the business goals.  When ownership culture exists, the results are measurable and amazing.  Engaged employees:

·         Have a positive view of the company’s future

·         Serve customers well

·         Care about their team members

·         Regularly use their talents

·         Are proud of where they work

What’s the best way to build ownership culture in your business? Here’s the secret: attract, retain, and train great managers. Senior leadership may create the ownership vision, but line managers have the greatest influence in bringing it to life in your business.

Research reveals that in companies with a vibrant ownership culture, absenteeism, safety issues, and turnover plunge, while customer satisfaction, profitability, and productivity rise.  All of these things build bottom-line value.

Don’t overlook the importance of investing in training for line managers. It builds consistency in ways of working across the organization. 

Here are just a few ways managers can support company culture:

·         Set clear expectations and help team members understand their roles and responsibilities—how and why each individual’s contributions are key to the team’s success.

·         Offer opportunities to grow and learn.  They share knowledge, coach performance, and talk to team members about their strengths and opportunities.

·         Communicate regularly, not only about what’s happening but how the team aligns with business strategy.

·         Spend time getting to know team members.  It builds trust and breaks down barriers when managers act like humans.

·         Celebrate success. Even the small wins are meaningful and there are many small wins every day in your business. 

Revitalizing the Employee Recognition Strategy

The term quiet quitting has emerged recently as a post-pandemic trend for employees who are burned out and actively choosing to the bare minimum.  It’s just a fancy way of saying that employee engagement is taking a nose dive. 

Companies that routinely rank high in employee engagement are committed to fostering a great workplace where culture is seen as a business imperative in both good and challenging times.  It’s more important than ever that employees feel connected, appreciated, and recognized for their efforts.  That’s where a sound employee recognition strategy can make a difference in overall performance and workplace culture.

Employee recognition programs should be a vital component of every company’s employee engagement strategy. It’s a smart retention approach that’s also good for the bottom line.

Studies show that businesses with formal recognition programs have approximately 30% less voluntary turnover than those without them. And they’re 12 times more likely to have strong business results.

But often recognition programs encounter two problems. 

A new recognition program may start with hoopla, but as time goes by, suffers from diminishing visibility. Without consistent internal marketing to employees and continuous leadership sponsorship, the recognition program loses participation and effectiveness.

Recognition should be clearly aligned with a company’s purpose and values so that there’s a common language for what success looks like.  When behaviors and achievement are linked, it sends a clear message of consistent, visible recognition across the business

It’s a virtuous cycle.  When people are recognized for their contributions, they perform better, trust grows and so does workplace culture.

How to Get Employees to Read your Company Newsletter

It’s always a dagger to the heart of a communicator when you realize that employees are not getting the message. While large and small businesses still use an employee newsletter, many other digital channels are available to share information. So the old standard practice of saving reminders and announcements for the company newsletter has dwindled in effectiveness.

A newsletter content reset may be in order. The secret to improved readership is compelling content. Employees will not spend time, or even open any communication if they don’t see the value to them.   Take a sharp look at the content provided and re-energize it with these tips.

Share success stories. We all need a little inspiration on the job. There’s nothing more powerful than hearing you did a great job. Share wins and celebrate stories about team members who live the company values.

Watch your tone. When the message is simple and conversational, it’s more likely to succeed. Think of your own experiences. What would make you want to read something? Aim for tone and language that is authentic and leave the jargon behind.

Start a conversation. Employees know the best ways to improve efficiencies and productivity. Ask them to share those ideas with the team. Create a method for employees to share ideas. When employees know their suggestions count, they are more connected to their workplace.

Include infographics. Break up the content with one fast fact conveyed through an infographic. This can make a complex point simple and memorable. Infographics will resonate with viewers who just want to scan the highlights. It will also increase the shareability of the content.

As always, the best way to drive employee engagement is to show people how their contributions make an impact on the business.

Four Resolutions for Better Internal Communications

It is said that each new year brings a fresh start. That’s noticeably true in the workplace, where the holiday break provides a mental refresh and reset. January is the perfect time to jump-start internal communication and help employees prepare for what’s ahead this year.  Use these four resolutions to get off to a great start.

1. Welcome to 2023 message. The CEO, or the executive team, should always begin the year with a message to employees.  It’s an opportunity to say thank you for everything that was accomplished the previous year, to recap successes, and to look ahead to the current year.  Most importantly, the message helps to align around shared goals that make the biggest difference in the business. Before they can perform, innovate, and deliver, team members need to hear from senior leadership. Don’t delay in creating this communication: get it done in January, even if you don’t have all the strategic initiatives completely mapped out.  Managers must ensure employees understand how team priorities align with business strategies.

2. Communicate the company mission and values.  How often do employees need to be reminded of the company’s mission and values? Frequently. While your business priorities may change in the coming year, the mission and values should be the cornerstone.  Every announcement should be framed by the values. Performance management, recognition, and rewards programs should directly align. Accelerate the connection to mission and values in all internal communications.

3. Commit to storytelling. It’s time to acknowledge that the essay format you learned in high school is obsolete. The shortest distance between two people is a story. It’s effective whether recognizing individuals that live your company values or using data to highlight the gaps in business performance. Storytelling makes complex ideas simple, human, and relatable.  The best stories are specific and spark emotion.  When you incorporate storytelling into internal communications, you’re more likely to engage, persuade, and move people to action.

4. Prioritize employee connection and development.  The shift to remote work means that there are fewer opportunities for informal development and coaching. Ensure that employees, on-site and remote, know that their talents and abilities are valued.  Hold leaders accountable for providing meaningful developmental feedback that identifies and prepares employees to take on your company’s biggest challenges.

Honoring Military Veterans at Work

One of the clearest memories of my childhood is connected to Veterans Day.  At the end of the church service, the priest asked all current and former military members to stand and be recognized for their service.  My father, who never spoke about his military service, would stand up, a little straighter than usual.  There were dozens of others who did the same.  As they left the church, they chatted and joked with each other about who had the easier tour of duty.

Recognition is meaningful.

Veterans Day, November 11, provides an opportunity to strengthen support for employees who are current and former service members and their families.  A simple recognition or expression of thanks means so much to those who’ve served. Within the workplace, consider these actions to show that your company values the service, experience and commitment of military veterans and their families:

  • Invite employees who served in the military to a special gathering or luncheon.
  • Establish a military veteran Employee Resource Group.
  • Make a contribution to a community veteran scholarship program.
  • Highlight employees who served in the military in company media and websites.
  • Host a community day of service for employees to give back at local veteran facilities, national cemeteries, or VA hospitals.

Current service members and those transitioning from military life make excellent employees. Recruiting veterans can be a successful component of your diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy.

  • Connect with non-profit organizations like American Corporate Partners to provide career coaches and mentors to veterans, active duty, and military spouses.
  • Partner with hiring programs that benefit veterans, transitioning service members, and their families.

Expressing thanks and support makes all of us better leaders, partners, and colleagues.  Make a commitment to show appreciation, develop, and hire those who served our country. 

Three Ways to Improve Benefit Communications

The Great Resignation is leading companies to rethink their approach to employee benefits. While flexible work initiatives seemed cutting edge only a few years ago (remember summer hours and Fri-Yeahs?), today a hybrid work environment is a standard consideration for many job seekers. Well-being offerings (financial, mental health support, parental/family care leave) are edging up the list of must-haves for job seekers.

While HR leaders grapple with which offerings to add or remove from benefits packages, an immediate solution is at hand:  do a better job of communicating the value of the benefit programs you have now.  Then promote new offerings as an extension of your company values.

Consider these three steps:

1. Market your benefits like you do your brand. Go beyond employee orientation and open enrollment and talk up benefits year-round. Research indicates that only 49% of employees understand their benefits and close to 80% do not review their open enrollment materials. Let’s do better! Develop monthly educational updates and interactive tools for employees to get more detailed information. Dive a little deeper into how your benefits make a difference to employees.

2. Survey employees about their benefit preferences. To really understand why some benefits are popular and why others are underutilized, conduct a detailed benefits survey. Just adding a few questions to the annual employee engagement survey won’t provide the insights needed to make accurate decisions. Times change and some of the current offerings may not meet the needs of today’s workforce. This data can also guide decisions on what benefits are needed to remain competitive.

3. Keep it simple. Remember, everyone learns differently. Use a variety of communication channels and tactics. Brief, visual content delivers a big impact. Few are willing to spend the time required to read through a Summary Plan Document. Clear language and easy-to-understand scenarios entice employees to learn more. 

When employees believe they are valued in the workplace, productivity, retention, and engagement rise. Telling a compelling story about your company’s benefits can contribute positively to that result.

Six Inspiring Graduation Speech Quotes

When you’re in need of a quick dose of encouragement, look no further than college commencement addresses. Graduation speakers have the unenviable task of distilling profound advice into actionable soundbites. While some speeches are more memorable than others, these will uplift and inspire.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own.”

Amy Poehler

The most enduring skill you can bring to the workplace is the ability to learn how to learn.”

Thomas Friedman

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself.”

Mindy Kaling

“Finding something you are passionate about gives you a sense of purpose and is a big part of happiness. To find it though, you need to be honest with yourself, observant, and make the most of the situation. Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them.”

Marissa Mayer

“When you feel lost in this tangled web of problems, know that in truth, the way out of it is simple. Instinctual, really. It’s love. Love should be your North Star. Let it guide you.

John Legend

“Nobody likes to fail but failure is an essential part of life and of learning. If your uniform isn’t dirty, you haven’t been in the game.”

Ben Bernanke

Goodbye 2021!

As we say goodbye to 2021 (not a moment too soon!), we share our appreciation and gratitude to:

  • Those who encouraged us;
  • Those who challenged us;
  • Those who made us laugh out loud (for what is life without laughter?);
  • Those who inspired us to think about things in new ways;
  • Those who led by example.

‘Tis the season for us to tell you how much you mean to us. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for new journeys in 2022.

The Power of Gratitude is a Multiplier

Tom Peters was so right when he noted “People don’t forget kindness.” It’s the same with gratitude.  The power of a sincere thank you cannot be overestimated. In a recent study on employee engagement, the top factor of job satisfaction was respectful treatment of employees at all levels.  Second on the list was trust between employees and management.  If you practice the first item, you achieve the second one.

It takes conscious effort to build a culture where every employee feels appreciated.  We all like to be noticed for the good things we do.  People who feel appreciated believe their work makes a difference.  They are more willing to go the extra mile because they know someone notices.

Making gratitude visible is a step you can build into your internal communications.  Here are three ways to build appreciation into your workplace culture:

Involve senior leadership– Create a year-end video of the senior management team thanking team members during this extraordinary year. 

Be specific– Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you note.  It’s low tech, but more effective than a gift card.  Be specific about how the individual contributes to the team.  Your employees will know that you are paying attention. 

Introduce a peer-to-peer recognition program– It feels great to say thank you.  That’s why peer-to-peer recognition programs are motivating to employees.  They strengthen a culture of collaboration. Tailor the program to your business, align with your company values, and make the recognition defined, public, and fun.

When you recognize people for their contributions, they perform better, trust grows and so does your workplace culture.