Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Tips for Getting Employees to Actually Read and Engage with Your Content

Dear Internal Comms Leader,

When you talk to me lately, it feels like you don’t understand what’s important to me. 

You are constantly texting and emailing our group. I appreciate that you let me know what’s going on with you and in the world. But you don’t ever ask me how I am or what’s going on with me. Do you even remember my name? 

Sincerely,
Every employee ever

Internal communicators have more methods to communicate than ever before: email, intranet, video, podcasts, SMS text messages, Slack, newsletters, town halls, and virtual meetings, to name a few. While these bring exciting possibilities, I’ve seen how it can create a cacophony of information and confusion for employees. 

We’ve all experienced poor, one-way communications. Where it feels like we’re on the receiving end of information being shouted out into the ether. It’s a crushing amount of detail, covering company updates, health benefit enrollment details, and next week’s company town hall. But it comes up short, failing to cultivate engagement and dialogue.

Repeat after me: More is not better. And just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Think about it, cutting through the noise is the role of any communicator. You’re delivering on a rational (business), emotional (human), and actionable (behavioral) strategy to enable employees to think, feel and do. A unified internal comms strategy instills confidence in the company’s vision, engages team pride, contributes to improved performance, and builds a brand’s narrative.

Some of the biggest roadblocks often beset the path to a unified communications program for any communicator:

  • Reaching unwired employees.
  • Balancing large amounts of critical content employees need to consume. 
  • Creating innovative and actionable tactics to help employees pay attention and stay engaged.
  • Coaching senior leadership to communicate what employees need to know, rather than what senior leadership thinks they need to know.

These are similar issues many industries face, including manufacturing, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods. It is especially true as communication tactics differ for employees out in the field not checking email regularly versus those in an office or at a home office who regularly check Slack and email. 

Ways to Move Away from Siloed Communications
As a communicator, your current splintered technology likely is creating limitations, and you’re doing many people’s work. The key to communicating is collaboration. But more often than not, multiple employee teams and their leaders operate in silos. So activating the right information at the right time becomes near impossible.

Here Are Five Quick Wins to Unify Communications

  • Define employee personas: Conduct an audit that looks at the company to identify the key employee groups and get to know their work patterns. Do they work in shifts? Are they desk, frontline, field, or factory team members? What are the departments, locations and how many people do they include? Know their usual channels and content consumption practices. And how are the channels used? Lastly, think about how they currently engage with the information your team shares – any patterns to their motivation and engagement? 
  • Get feedback: The most effective way to help uncover which changes will increase your employees’ participation in internal communication is to ask: What works for you? It might be the most impactful way to receive feedback across groups. However, each employee group will likely prefer to share their input differently. Some want to communicate anonymously in a short feedback survey. Others are okay to send feedback over email or written responses in a physical suggestion box. Use this to listen to what each employee group needs, which will help simplify the process. 
  • Embrace visual assets: Part of the issue in information overload employees feel is that the messages they are receiving don’t feel relatable or personalized enough for them, their role, or what they care about at the company. When communicators move from describing words to showing visuals, there’s an opportunity to create simple messages focused on what’s changing for employees and more. Visuals including animation, video, infographics help back a big punch to connect to the company purpose. 
  • Empathize with employees: Understanding that every person’s experience looks different, how employees interpret the culture, and how communication impacts their experience. But what you can do is treat employee engagement like nurture campaigns – with information delivered just in time right when they need to act and when they need it. 
  • Set stakeholders up for success: As communicators, we help leaders and managers develop authentic messages that provide employees with the right amount of face time and information sharing for collaboration and fluent alignment between the groups/employees. For instance, when building a framework, your team helps to empower leaders with the balance of messages and communication tactics to help reach and engage with their employee base to encourage trust and open communication. 

Choosing the Correct Application for Your Needs
What’s clear is communicators need to be the experts in adapting to the channels that best reach their employee groups. While the possibilities of digital communication might seem endless, consider building an internal communications app platform that empowers your team to create apps without any code. These apps provide a highly-personalized experience to your employees. For example, it offers personalized news feeds for each employee based on their role and content interests enabling your team to send scheduled and real-time text notifications to emails for urgent communication. The app platform also provides a wrap-up email highlighting all of the information each employee should read. 

It’s a noisy world, both inside and outside of work. Help employees navigate what’s important with a personalized content stream. To learn more, watch our recent session about tips for getting your employees to read and engage with the content you send them.