We’re living in a time when more employees are working from home than ever, and also when Employee Advocacy and Employee Communication are more important than ever. How can companies ensure that their remote employees are staying connected—that they’re informed and that employee engagement levels are high?
Because of the ongoing health crisis, employees around the world are working remotely, changing employee engagement and the way companies interact with their work force. Perhaps the biggest challenge is maintaining that crucial sense of connection and alignment. And the best answer is to keep employees informed and engaged with the company. But how to accomplish this?
In this article, you will learn:
1. The negative effects of extended remote work
2. The need for employee engagement
3. Steps for improving communication
4. Tips for increasing engagement
5. A platform solution that can help
The effects of remote work are being felt.
By this point, many employees—one study found close to 70%—have been working remotely, separated from their regular office, their coworkers, and their routines. All of those informal chats around the water cooler or over coffee breaks have been lost. Zoom chats and conference calls have replaced the critical meetings and in-person presentations that used to take place. As to the negative effects related to employee engagement, they include:
Misalignment. Employees are often no longer aligned in their tasks, the larger strategy, or the purpose of their work.
Lack of horizon. It’s difficult to imagine the future, or see what the fruits of their labor will be with everything so strange and uncertain.
Cabin fever. Being cooped up inside without interaction has caused a “winter effect” in which employees can be prone to loss of direction, loss of motivation, and even depression.
The divide between frontline and office workers has only gotten bigger.
The population most often overlooked by digital communication—frontline workers—has especially suffered, because they often don’t have the same resources their counterparts do in the office (i.e. professional emails, personal laptops with platform access, etc.), and can feel disconnected from the larger digital flow of information at the company. They may feel isolated and separated from the corporate identity, despite their crucial role in ensuring that the company succeeds.
And in the coming months, the initial commitment of employees will be severely tested.
In some ways, the fallout from these months of confinement is only just beginning. Economic consequences are reverberating, as markets suffer and budgets are reduced. Partial unemployment and stimulus dollars are ending, meaning financial difficulties for many workers. And many employees don’t feel like they’ve received recognition for the efforts they’ve put in. The combined effect is that employees feel less committed to the cause of the company, they have other worries on their mind.
Communication is critical to solve the problem. But don’t confuse it with collaboration.
Many companies make the mistake of confusing the two. If you’re using Slack or Teams, congratulations—those are great collaboration tools. They are effective for allowing dispersed employees to edit documents and work together on projects. But their focus is not communication. Those are collaboration platforms, not communication platforms. Having the right communication platform to complement that is critical.
And when it does come to communication, there are two main kinds: corporate and operational. Corporate communication will allow employees to know general information about the company, the market, the sector, etc. Operational communication will involve messages directly related to daily affairs and ongoing activity.
The right platform can help keep remote workers connected and aligned. With Sociabble, features like an editorialized newsfeed with content creation options ensure that employees are both informed and engaged.
So how can you improve communication to create informed employees? Here are some tips.
Obviously, when it comes to employee engagement, honing your Employee Communication is a critical first step in helping employees to stay informed. But how can a company do that, given the current challenges? Well, here are a few tips and strategies to improve communications so that employees stay connected.
Tip #1: Reconnect with frontline workers.
This means investing in a communication system that reaches them, ideally something that includes mobile access and alerts, as many won’t have business emails or an official company computer. Include both synchronous and asynchronous communication, so they receive all the information that’s relevant to them.
Tip #2: Right content for the right people at the right time.
Segment and target populations precisely, and categorize content that’s sent to them. Communication needs to be centralized and decentralized, especially operational communication. This keeps it relevant at both the local and global level. Employees should receive a mix of content that’s relevant for the entire company, and for just their specific office or role.
Tip #3: The content should be visual, editorialized, and engaging.
Include photos, videos, and audio as shareable content. Give priority to speed and the interest level over perfect production; text often isn’t that useful on its own. Employees want visual, stimulating content that they can pass on their social networks to share.
Tip #4: The information needs to be in real time and confirmed.
Use mobile notifications to alert employees to incoming content. Activate read receipts for important content, so that you know they’re reading it. And don’t rely on just one channel—mobile, newsletters, social media walls, etc. can all be used together in concert to emphasize a point and reach them anywhere.
Tip #5: The information goes both ways.
Employee Communication is a two-way street. You have to talk, but you also have to listen. You have to be able to take the pulse of the team via surveys and polls, include this as a feature. And the pulse surveys need to be decentralized to be effective; make them local and relevant, not too general or generic.
Tip # 6: Employee content is key.
Include employees and give them the chance and the tools to make their own relevant UGC (user generated content). Photos and videos created on-site make the communication concrete, engaging, and alive. Let them be part of the communication experience and become active in creating content. They’ll also be more likely to share it this way.
Giving employees the power to use different media formats to post their own content can make a huge difference. And a powerful mobile app means they can stay connected no matter where they are.
Effective communication will keep employees informed. But how do you keep them engaged?
First, ask yourself: is it that the employees aren’t engaged, or is the problem that we don’t engage the employees? More often than not, the company just isn’t taking the proper steps to encourage employee engagement in regards to its communication strategy.
But first, what is engagement?
You could say that engagement is the act by which one reacts to accomplish something; a promise, agreement, or contract by which they are bound. Or, for the existentialists out there, the act by which the individual assumes the values they have chosen, and give, thanks to this free choice, a sense of their existence. So it’s important for employers and employees alike. It benefits both, and gives both parties a sense of value. As to how to encourage it, here are a few strategies:
Tip #1: Recognize and value acts of employee engagement.
Everyone loves positive reinforcement, and when it comes to engagement, it’s no different. Show that it’s something your company values. Give employee interviews that get them involved and spread their profile. Include photos and video-based UGC that you promote across the company. Encourage engagement with content that’s internal, but external too, related to your business or sector. Give them a reason to interact, to comment, to share.
Tip #2: Recognize engagement with meaningful rewards.
Reward micro-engagements of employees with micro-rewards that have a sense of meaning—for example with Sociabble, you can offer Sociabble Trees, which awards real trees to employees to be used in reforestation projects around the world, as well as Support My Cause, which works for all sorts of CSR initiatives. Employees care about CSR, and it’s a great place to start. Recognize their engagement, and get them involved.
Tip #3: Involve employees in projects and initiatives.
Let employees know they have a voice, and get them involved when it comes time to select projects and initiatives. Crowdsourcing initiative ideas is a good place to start. Again, use concrete project themes, like CSR programs, with a definite cause and value. With Support My Cause, our new Sociabble feature, employees can nominate and vote for initiatives that are meaningful to them.
Tip #4: Add a bit of fun with gamification.
You’ll get better results if you gamify the employee experience. Use points, leaderboards, and badges to drive engagement and get a spirit of healthy competition going. Reward leaders and recognize their accomplishments; give employees a fun reason to stay engaged in the long term.
Looking for the perfect platform to do all of this? Sociabble is here to help.
Sociabble is a comprehensive Employee Communication platform backed up by customized consulting and assistance, every step of the way. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies in over 80 countries around the world, including industry leaders like Coca-Cola European Partners, Microsoft, Vinci, and L’Occitane, to name a few. We’d love to chat with you about Sociabble and talk about ways we can help you bring your company’s Employee Communication to the next level.
If you’d like to know more, schedule a free demo.