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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

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@insight-communication.com

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

Time to Refresh Your LinkedIn Profile

As you tackle those New Year’s Resolutions, here’s another to add to the list: Update your LinkedIn profile. With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is much more than an online billboard for your resume.  It can be an effective way to evolve your personal brand, influence others, and market yourself and your company to a massive global audience.

Use this checklist to improve your LinkedIn profile and postings:

Improve your first impression

Your photo should be clear, professional, friendly and flattering. Wear something that’s applicable to your industry.  LinkedIn profiles with photos receive 21x more views that those without photos. In the profile section, tell a little more about who you are and what you’re passionate about.  Cut out the industry jargon and be human.  For every 10 profiles, there’s one that’s memorable and it’s usually because they included something unexpected.

Strengthen your LinkedIn profile and details

Your LinkedIn profile should be as updated and dynamic as your career.  Many people fill it out once and leave it there where it quickly becomes a time capsule. The first step is to completely fill out each section: education, experience, skills, volunteerism, awards, recommendations and interests.  You can add punch by uploading videos, PowerPoints, pdfs, jpegs or other relevant content by clicking on the edit button, scrolling to the media section, and uploaded files directly from your computer.

Update your contact information

Be sure to include your updated business website, your social media channels, your company career site, and your business email and business address if you want people to be able to get in touch.  And really, isn’t that the point of social networking?

Connect and influence

LinkedIn is not just a place to find a job (or a new team member).  It’s a business networking site.  Strengthen your profile by asking trusted peers and clients for recommendations.  Update your skills.  Follow thought leaders and become an influencer yourself by posting content through LinkedIn publishing.

Link to your Twitter account

Multiply your social media reach by sharing your LinkedIn updates on Twitter.  LinkedIn provides an easy step-by-step process to do this. Just log in to your LinkedIn account and go to Privacy & Settings>Manage Twitter Settings> Add your Twitter account.

Need your executive LinkedIn profile revamped and optimized?  Get in touch: Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com.

How to Rally Internal Audiences Around Your Culture: A World Cup Story

If you’re like me you can’t get enough of the World Cup.  It’s an event that I look forward to every four years.  I have vivid memories of watching the U.S. national team play in the World Cup. You don’t forget waking up at 2 a.m. to watch the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea or standing in a packed bar in Auburn, Alabama watching the 2010 USA vs Algeria game.  These are moments that I will never forget.

But on October 10, 2017 the U.S. team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago and was officially eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.  This was a major disappointment, but I refused to let it ruin my World Cup anticipation.  All I needed was a new team to get behind.

This was an easy decision.  The club team I support, Tottenham Hotspur, plays in England and their star player, Harry Kane, is the England captain.  I was all in on England.   I began to learn about their national team fan culture, songs, traditions, and slogans.

If you watched the U.S. team play in the last World Cup I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the chant/slogan “I believe that we will win.”  It was easy to remember, it flowed well, and it was very catchy.  By joining in on the “I believe that we will win” chant you identified yourself as a USA supporter.  For England’s supporters “Football’s Coming Home” or simply “It’s coming home” has been the rallying cry.  The slogan has brought all England supporters together and is easily identified as being unique to England.

How do you rally internal audiences and engage them around a common theme or message?  Use these best practices:

  • Develop a slogan or message that is simple and memorable.
  • Be consistent. Use the same message over and over in all your communications.  When you’re just beginning to think you can’t say it one more time, that’s when it will finally get through to someone.
  • Create an engaging visual image.  Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Your message will be more memorable when a visual is incorporated.

How does your company build engagement? Please share your stories and idea with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Preparing for Open Enrollment

As an internal communicator there are several key dates throughout the year that you must be prepared for.  One of the most important is Open Enrolment.  In recent years healthcare costs have risen and plan designs have become more complex.  Open Enrollment communications have become more challenging and more sought after by employees.   To effectively communicate your company benefits you must create a clear and consistent communications plan.

With that in mind here are a few best practices to consider when planning out your Open Enrollment Communications:

Start with a survey

The time to start gathering information for Open Enrollment is now. The best way to find out where your communication gaps are is to go to the source.  Design a simple survey (through Google or survey providers like Survey Monkey).  Determine the level of awareness, what employees need more information about, and what you are doing well.  This information will give you a good foundation when you begin building your communications plan.

Reach out early and often

Going from no information for 11 months, then lots of information all at once when decisions must be made immediately can be overwhelming.  Rather than overloading your employees with a massive information drop, spread your Open Enrollment communications out over the year.  Create a 12-month communications plan that delivers small bits of information every month.  A consistent flow of communications about your benefits will increase understanding and engagement.

Keep it simple

Keep your messaging simple.  Your job is to break through all of the confusing technical details and answer employees’ most basic questions. What? When? Where? How? Provide clear information, dates, checklists, and decision support tools that are easy to follow.  Once your employees have an understanding of the process, they will find it much easier to come to a final decision.

Don’t sugarcoat the news

Your employees are intelligent.  Be open and honest with them.  Communicate any challenging news such as increased health plan premiums or rising deductibles.  Messaging that is meant to conceal this information will be seen as a negative and will impact employee morale.  On the same note, highlight the value of your benefits plan.  Promote wellness and have your employees share their stories of personal wellness with their colleagues.

Being prepared for Open Enrollment will make the entire process easier.  Get out in front of the issue and have a plan that simplifies the information with a clear and consistent message.

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