Capturing employees’ attention and ensuring they retain critical company communications was the center of the discussion at the Lewis & Clark SHRM chapter meeting on October 10, 2018.
Rob Seay, Bonfyre’s director of employee experience, led the conversation with his presentation The Changing Times: Connecting Your Diverse Workforce.
“Our workplace dynamics have drastically changed over the years, so organizations across the world are struggling with and looking for ways to best reach employees,” Seay said.
A communication strategy helps organizations share the direction the company is headed with individuals. According to Seay, this allows employees to feel aligned, valued, and that they are a part of the strategy and direction of the company.
Seay discussed the changing landscape of the HR industry over recent years. Human resources used to be centered around pay and benefits. Now it’s focused on culture and employee experience. “People want to understand the value that they are delivering on and what they bring to work,” Seay said. “Having a good communication strategy will help them understand that.”
Communications not only have an impact on culture and the employee experience, but they can also impact the bottom line. “For smaller companies, on an annual basis, miscommunication can cost up to $420,000 per year,” Seay said, citing a SHRM survey. “For large, enterprise organizations it can be more than $60 million a year.” Creating an internal communications strategy can help prevent miscommunication and improve engagement.
“On the flip side of that, there are also huge benefits when you have a strong communication plan and an engaged workforce,” Seay said. He then shared three statistics that demonstrate how an engaged workforce benefits the bottom line:
- Increased productivity: Companies with an engaged workforce have 202% more productivity
- Increased retention: Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave
- Increased customer satisfaction: Companies with engaged employees have a 38% higher customer satisfaction score.
Seay then presented four common challenges to consider when creating or improving an internal communications strategy along with some best practices to overcome those obstacles.
How well communicators are connecting with their employees, and finding a way to reach the people you’re missing. “The challenge we have sometimes as professionals is we go into this thinking there’s one tool out there that’s going to solve all our problems. Every one of us here has a diverse population with different preferences,” Seay said. “Keep in mind there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.” He challenged professionals to think about how they can leverage technology and use multiple tools to reach all employees.
With so many different communications channels available, it can be confusing for employees to find the information they need. “It’s important to listen to your employees,” Seay said. “Ask them what type of communication they prefer.” He shared a channel selection guide to help communicators understand all the tools available and the pros and cons of each channel.
Communicators know their communications are going out, but they can’t always know if people are truly listening and remembering the information. “We recognize and sort of joke about the watercooler chat. People socially connect around those types of things,” Seay said. One way to improve message retention is to incorporate those employee influencers into your internal communications strategy.
Metrics and Measurement
While you can measure email opens, it’s difficult to know if employees have actually read the information. It can be difficult to find the appropriate measures to see if your communications strategy is effective. “Look at each individual channel and create KPIs specific to that channel,” Seay said. “Sometimes people want to compare apples to oranges. How does email compare to the intranet?” It’s better to take a step back and understand how each channel is working, rather than compare them. Seay also stressed the importance of using metrics rather than avoiding them out of fear of the results.
Seay closed his presentation by taking questions from the group and facilitating conversation as several members shared their own internal communications best practices. “As you’re embarking on this and creating a communications strategy, use this room–the networks, people, and contacts you have within this organization. They may have best practices from their organization that you can use at your own.”