An effective communication strategy begins and ends with your audience. When it comes to communication at work, you’re more likely to make an impact and engage employees if you treat them like you do customers.
Anyone who’s worked in business knows that customer engagement and satisfaction is critical to a company’s success. But what if you took the same grit and determination that you use to communicate with customers and applied it to your employees?
Employee experience is a trending topic in the management world. In The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results, authors Tracy Maylett and Matthew Wride highlight the relation between employee and customer succinctly: “Customer experience is an outcome of employee experience.” When employees are treated well, listened to, and receive the right communications, they, in turn, provide a rewarding experience to the customer.
To ensure customers have a great experience, be as rigorous and resourceful on your communications with employees as you are with customers. You can do this by establishing trust in your communication at work, strategizing your internal communications, and using feedback to make improvements.
How trust impacts communication at work
Employees need to believe in the validity of your messaging if you expect them to buy into it. If you want employees to engage with customers in a way that builds trust and loyalty, those employees must believe and trust in your company’s message, vision, and goals first. Communications to customers that are incongruent to what employees see or hear will erode that essential foundation of trust.
For example, if your company receives bad press about a product’s quality and employees are told to dismiss the concerns of customers, you’ll inevitability start a chain of distrust. This chain begins with the employee who is expected to share dishonest, disingenuous information and ends with the customer who walks away with a negative experience with your company.
One of the most critical tenets of workplace trust revolves around transparent and honest communications. Employees want to be in-the-know about the true state of your company, whether that information is positive or negative. As Carolyn O’Hara writes for HBR, “regularly distributing information—like financial results, performance metrics, and notes from board meetings—shows that you trust your employees, which in turn helps them have greater faith in you.”
Make internal communications your prime focus
When it comes to your internal communications, think like a marketer. What kind of advertising appeals to customers? Something informative, compelling, and relatable. The same applies to your employees, too.
Marketers are rigorous in their advertising. They use all platforms available to them and different types of content to convey the same message–buy this product!–in various ways. Apply the same rigorous approach when communicating with employees, only imagine that the product you’re selling is your company’s mission, vision, and goals.
It’s okay to be repetitive, as long as you pay attention to how employees respond to your messaging. Take advantage of the channels in your workplace (email, intranet, or team huddles) and use an assortment of content to keep your messaging fresh.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to get creative and shake things up. You want to make employees excited about your company and invested in helping accomplish its goals. Marketers aren’t afraid to try out emerging trends, and you shouldn’t be either. It often takes a lot of trial and error to find out what type of communications work best.
Use feedback to upgrade your communication at work
Companies gather feedback regularly to understand what needs to be improved with their product in order to retain and attract customers. In order to make employee-centric communications work, employers need to utilize employee feedback in the same way.
If your communications were previously written with only policy in mind, it’s time to bring out the surveys. Use surveys to ask employees what their concerns are and what they’re most interested in knowing about. Do they want more knowledge about their industry or more opportunities to network with colleagues? Addressing gaps in information improves communication at work for both the employer and employees.
By setting up metrics of engagement, you can see how interested employees are with your communications. When you find that engagement levels are dipping, it’s time to restructure communication at work in order to keep employees from checking out–both figuratively and literally.
You’ll more than likely see a difference in employee morale once you convey that you care about their needs as much as you do the needs of your customers. After all, your employees are your most important asset, as they’re the ones directly engaging with customers every day. Your employment practices, including how you talk to employees, define your brand as much as traditional marketing does. Employees who feel listened to and empowered to do their jobs will make customers more confident in your company, too.