Employee engagement – are you willing to take a risk?

Brands2Life and CorpComms Magazine recently hosted the Employee Engagement Conference. Bringing together experts in employee engagement from a number of different sectors, from insurance to travel and digital security, the event covered a range of topics from how to link employee engagement to the bottom line, to producing employee-generated content.

Claire Rudall, Managing Director of Corporate and Brand at Brands2Life, shares highlights below from an exclusive survey of in-house communicators on the state of employee engagement today, conducted by Brands2Life in association with CorpComms.

Your story, your people

  1. Take the risk: your employees are your most critical influencers. Understand their needs and empower them to lead communications. Take the time to uncover audience insights as you would with external communications and step away from traditional, leader-led communications.
  1. So what’s new?: Be prepared to disrupt. Ask the difficult questions. Understand what your employees expect from communications and push to deliver in different and unprecedented ways.
  1. The rules of engagement: employee communications now have to compete with tailored content that employees share and interact with in their personal lives. Receiving a monthly pay pack from a shared employer does not align a workforce. 

“Making our vision understandable and translatable to all grades remains a challenge.”

From the research, 1/3 of respondents believe employee communications are less creative than external. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that 42% cite a lack of interest in internal communications amongst employees. Shaping communications that match the quality of external content will take us half way to success, empowering employees is the next step.

  1. Mirror the macro trends: trends such as visualisation, gamification and peer to peer content apply equally to employee engagement. We have four generations in the workplace nowadays, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Empowering them to communicate with peers will deliver more relevant, more credible content. The good news is that change is underway:

“We’re personalising, targeting, using gamification – it’s much harder to get the attention of employees than it used to be.”

  1. Uncovering channel insights: according to the research, existing internal channels are one of the barriers to engagement for 25% of respondents, with 54% citing email fatigue as a reason for low engagement. When we look at the multitude of creative ways we target influencers on the outside, it’s not surprising that internal email updates don’t quite cut it.

Interestingly, despite the ever growing power of technology, face to face communication is still the most sought after channel for employees. People want “more personal, conversational and engaging dialogue” and management is encouraged to “engage, not transmit.” Taking a back seat and allowing your employees to do the talking fosters more opportunities for direct conversation.

  1. Engaging a mobile workforce: half the respondents in the study believe that a disparate workforce is a key challenge, as well as 42% citing a lack of online access for employees. The research showed that only 1 in 4 respondents believe that the response rate on employee communications is either good or very good. If channels are not genuinely driving two-way dialogue, what value are they delivering?
  1. Cultural fit: having an open and honest culture is essential to successfully landing employee engagement programmes that deliver business impact. There’s work to be done before initiating a shift from leader-led to employee-led communications.
  1. Make the case: demonstrate to decision-makers what true engagement can ultimately deliver, from employee advocacy to enhanced customer service. Research respondents cite:

“Improvement in sales, more interaction, more understanding”

“Productivity, staff turnover, absence rates”

According to the research, 34% of in-house communicators do not currently measure employee engagement. Is ROI any less important internally?

What’s your appetite for risk?

Allowing your employees to take centre stage is the only way to succeed in a world where individuals are used to controlling what they say, how they say it and where they say it, in the knowledge that they can more easily than ever command an audience, and keep that story going.

Understanding that your employees can be more powerful than customers, more authentic than leaders, more effective at communicating than managers, and more relevant to each other’s day jobs than communications or HR teams, is the first step in truly engaging employees and ultimately delivering positive business impact.

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You can view the full report here

For more information please contact: Claire Rudall, Managing Director Corporate and Brand: Claire.Rudall@brands2life.com

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