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Communicating Gratitude

This month as we focus on Thanksgiving, consider the power of gratitude in your workplace. Before your thoughts turn to friends, family, and football, spend a few minutes thinking about how appreciation can make a difference to your business. 

Tom Peters correctly 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 the 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 ideas:

Appreciation by senior leadership—Create a year-end video of the senior management team thanking team members for their service this year.  Get out of the office and video it with front-line workers.  Switching the wardrobe from suits and ties to ugly Christmas sweaters and elf ears will create smiles for years to come.

Appreciation by managers—Write 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.  Not only will your employees appreciate the gesture, but they will also know that you are paying attention. 

Appreciation by team membersIt feels great to say thank you.  That’s why peer-to-peer recognition programs are motivating to employees.  They strengthen a culture of support, collaboration, and achievement.  Peer recognition programs should tie to your company values.  Tailor the program to your business, but make the recognition defined, public, and fun.

The power of gratitude is a multiplier.  When you recognize people for their contributions, they perform better, trust grows and so does your workplace culture.

Please Avoid Tone-Deaf Employee Messaging

It’s too delicious to pass up. A corporate executive sends a company-wide email that is so insensitive or shocking that you must chuckle.  Who approved this?

Social media regularly serves up examples of executive messaging gone wrong:

  • The Klarna CEO published the names and emails of individuals offered severance following staff reductions.
  • The Howard University Hospital CEO responded to nurses’ requests for raises with a list of budget-saving tips for the home including “Do laundry at night,” “Shop store brands, not name brands,” and “Do home meal prep.”
  • The PagerDuty CEO announced workforce cuts, executive promotions, and spending cuts in the same email.  Then she added a quote from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The most egregious of this club may be the CEO of Better.com.  You may remember him firing 900 employees via Zoom just before the holidays a few years ago.  He previously sent an email to employees “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS.” 

Certainly, none of these individuals set out to offend employees (well, maybe except the dumb dolphin guy). Despite good intentions, this happens fairly often. The efficiency and speed of online tools sometimes deceive us into thinking that quick communication is the best path.  That often leads to unintended consequences.

It is worth the extra time to get the message right.

When crafting employee messaging, especially if the topic is challenging, follow these steps.

1. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes.  Is this the right message? Is it clear and in jargon-free language? Most importantly, is it thoughtful and empathetic? If you were reading this, would you feel it was relevant and respectful?

2. Have someone else review it.  Even the best communicators benefit from input.  Having someone else evaluate the messaging, and provide feedback to improve it, reduces the chance of misunderstanding. This is where a professional communicator can help.

3. Offer support. When the message has the potential to cause uncertainty, provide some direction on when more information will be available. Don’t forget to say thank you.  When employees feel recognized and valued, they’re more likely to trust management.  Perhaps even forgive a tone-deaf email.

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@matth241.sg-host.com

Let’s talk about 2020 Workplace Trends

Internal communications priorities should always align with business strategy and address emerging workplace issues. Our analysis reveals four workplace trends that need to be on your radar this year in order to attract, engage and retain the best employees.

Employee Experience

The Customer experience (CX) created a step-change in creating a holistic brand experience. With the tightest labor market in years, smart companies are reimaging Employee Experience (EX) to map and optimize every touchpoint in the employment journey. It begins with creating amazing experiences in recruiting and onboarding, followed by delivering the tools, technology and development opportunities that ensure a great workplace.  This trend is moving from nice-to-have to business imperative.

Millennial Majority

Millennials are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce and will comprise 75% of employees by 2025. Their communication channel preferences are digital, with text, video and social apps among the top choices. If your communication channels are not mobile and visual, the impact on this employee segment will be limited. A bonus of digital channels: the analytics available will help you hone messaging and identify what’s not working.

Diversity and Inclusion Culture

The size of the millennial population in the workplace is not their only impact. Millennials are the most diverse adult generation in American history according to a Brookings study. The more diverse the employee population, the more wide-ranging their needs. Ensure your company’s diversity and inclusion strategy is visible, actionable, and led by a senior business executive. Consider establishing Employee Resource Groups to bring employees together for career growth, involvement and community.

Connecting with Remote Employees

Walkthrough any corporation today and you’re likely to see a sea of empty workstations.  Why? Because more businesses now offer flexible work hours and increased work from home arrangements.  This trend puts more urgency on the development and use of digital communications channels. Establish a clear, consistent communications plan and the technology to support it.  Don’t forget that everyone likes to be recognized and celebrated, especially when your role doesn’t allow you to interact with team members routinely.

 Looking for ways to improve your internal communications?  Get in touch with us at Insight Strategic Communications.

How to Write an Authentic New Year’s Message

As you flip the calendar over to 2020, there’s a substantial opportunity to persuade, motivate and focus employees. A new year is another opportunity to start fresh. For leaders, it’s a perfect time help team members align around business priorities. In terms of good, better, best, a town hall session is definitely best. But for many leaders, a New Year’s message is more likely.

The best leadership messages are focused, inspiring and brief. Here’s how to craft a memorable one.

• Say thank you. Start with thanking employees for their contributions in the previous year. Be specific about the positive and don’t be afraid to acknowledge any challenges.

• Map out the strategy. Identify 2020 priorities and how the business will drive growth, deepen customer relationships, and adopt ways of working that improve efficiencies and execution.

• Lean into your company values. The values are essential to ensuring that everyone, at every level, has a shared purpose. The culture you want to achieve is documented in them. Make that connection explicit.

• Encourage career development. Many employees, particularly millennials consider their jobs as a launchpad for career development and growth. Encourage employees to seek opportunities to learn, grow and take advantage of development opportunities.

Remember, communicate now. Waiting until later in Q1 sends a message that you’re not focused on 2020 priorities. We’re all looking for just a spark of inspiration to reset our thinking. You can achieve this when you craft a message that is authentic, actionable and aspirational.

Five Gifts That Exceptional Leaders Give All Year Long

We’re in full-blown holiday season now, aren’t we? As the clock ticks down to year-end, you may consider what your employees want this season (hint: not another coffee mug with the company logo). Take a look at these five ideas. They’re what your team members want all year long. And the best part is, it won’t cost you a penny.

Trust— When people trust each other in the workplace, there are wide-ranging results. Productivity and creativity soar, employees love their jobs and take better care of customers. You can build trust by involving team members, being consistent in what you say and do, listening more and sharing credit.

Guidance— Feedback is a gift, and the ability to give it is one of the most important leadership skills. You’re the coach and the quality inspector. When you show team members how they can improve, it underlines your trust in them and their potential.

Encouragement–Know each individual’s strengths and gaps so you can help them reach their full potential. Sometimes just knowing that someone believes you can succeed helps you achieve. A leader’s job is to help everyone get an “A.”

Empathy –We all experience difficult seasons in life. Know your team members so well that you can show concern for them when they experience personal challenges. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen and show that you care.

Attention–Perhaps the most important gift, and the most difficult to provide, is your attention. Being present and noticing the little things can change a good work environment into a great one.

When your team members receive these gifts, what’ you get in return is a culture where everyone lives the company values and delivers great performance.

Happy holidays from the team at Insight Strategic Communications!

Activate a Culture of Recognition

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.” William A. Ward

Every day, committed and talented employees work together to create great experiences for your customers and positive results for your business. How do you celebrate them and recognize their contributions?

As we close in on year-end, take stock of the way your business celebrates employee and team achievements. A recent study by WorldatWork revealed that formal recognition programs, including service anniversary, extraordinary performance and retirement, are the most frequently offered recognition programs.

Now think about this from the employee’s perspective: if you have to wait a year to be recognized—or until your retirement—how engaged would you feel?

Recognition drives results
Saying thank you costs nothing but can make a tangible impact on the bottom line. Research indicates that showing appreciation for team members’ efforts can lead to a 20-30% increase in engagement. Operational impacts can include lower turnover and absenteeism and higher productivity.

Beyond service anniversaries
To make gratitude a foundation of your culture, consider bringing multiple programs together to build a consistent recognition experience:
• Peer-to-peer recognition gives employees the power to do the thanking
• Awards for those who demonstrate company values inspire employees to live those behaviors
• Welcome programs for new hires
• Social media celebrations for promotions, team achievements or community events,

Being recognized for great work is motivating and builds pride in all of us. If you’re looking for new ways to activate a culture of recognition, get in touch: Maureen.Clayton@matth241.sg-host.com

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Six Inspiring Leadership Quotes from College Football Coaches

Our business is located in the heart of college football country. While other regions are passionate about hockey or “Sunday football” as we refer to the NFL, it’s hard to describe the intensity the college gridiron inspires in the Southeast.

In honor of the season that raises our hopes and crushes our dreams, here are some of the best quotes about leadership from college football coaches. Use them to inspire your team.

May all your communications this month be first downs and touchdowns.

• “Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz, Notre Dame

• “Success doesn’t come from pie in the sky thinking. It’s the result of consciously doing something each day that will add to your overall execution.” Nick Saban, University of Alabama

• “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential … these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Eddie Robinson, Grambling State University

• “My goal is to love these guys and put them in a situation where they can grow up to be the best men they can be. I have influence over them, and I take that responsibility seriously.” Mark Richt, University of Georgia

• “Your goals are constantly revised according to circumstance, but your purpose, your real reason for being, that supersedes everything.” Jim Tressle, Ohio State University

• “Let the light that shines in you be brighter than the light that shines on you.” Dabo Swinney, Clemson University

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