Have you heard this one before: “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without?”
That’s a fact—and it is a fact, according to the American Marketing Association—that gets thrown around a lot among communicators. But what does it really mean? What’s the key to unlocking the treasure of engaged employees?
Engaging employees isn’t something that just happens, and there is no trickery, bribery or shiniest new tool that makes it happen. It comes by making a real connection with employees, who then buy into your organization’s business goals. When they become believers, they are engaged.
And that’s no easy task. According to research from HubSpot, more than half of internal communications professionals (54 percent) said one of their biggest challenges is gaining buy-in from employees.
Big challenge, big rewards. How can communications help to engage employees and the added company performance that comes with them? Here are a few tips and best practices:
Create a strategic communications plan. A blog post from internal communcations agency Tribe explains how a strategic communications plan helps align internal communications and business goals:
The strategic communications plan helps to keep everyone moving in the same direction. It’s what provides the structure on which you can build employee engagement in reaching those business objectives…Even before you start developing your messaging, you’ve begun to pave the way for changing employee behavior.
Listen. Employees want to know they’re being heard. It’s that simple. You can’t ask someone to buy into your goals if you aren’t attentive to their needs. In a white paper, Janson Communications offers this advice:
If internal audiences are constantly on the receiving end and seldom or never get the opportunity to “be heard,” the messages will become less genuine. When employees are given the chance to share their opinions and that information is used appropriately, a foundation of trust is built.
Measure. Listen to what employees say, but also pay attention to what they do. Which channels do they prefer? (According to HubSpot and PoliteMail, email is still the most popular channel.) What types of messages do they like? What do they respond to? Make adjustments to communicate with them in the ways they want with the content they need and find most useful.
Speak to employees as individuals. When you ask someone to buy into an idea or a way of thinking, there’s one important question you must answer: “What’s in it for me?” Be sure you let your employees know what the benefits to them of engagement are. The answer won’t be the same for everyone, so align your messaging with specific segments of our audience according to their roles and interests. While some may be satisfied with an answer about the health of the organization, others may want something else. Be upfront about all the risks and benefits.
What is the secret recipe for employee engagement? There really isn’t one magic bullet, but communications, culture, community and clear objectives are the keys. Communicating with employees on their terms, explaining what the business wants and why, and asking them what they want and taking that into consideration is the way forward.
To learn more about how organizations like yours are successfully communicating with employees, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.