The practice of sharing business strategies, goals, and cultural values to employees has always been an essential component of high-performing, people-first cultures. As we continue to navigate the new world of work, workplace communication is challenged as never before.
Even before COVID, communication practices used by companies to provide information to employees evolved significantly to incorporate both interpersonal communication practices with enterprise-wide digital communication platforms like Slack, Poppulo, and Workvivo. Communicating during the heavy days of the pandemic, however, pushed us to rely more on these digital platform channels to reach the masses. And in doing so, the dynamics, and the impact of one-on-one conversations has suffered.
Given how hybrid work models are now becoming the norm, companies must work even harder to maintain effective communication frameworks to keep employees informed, connected, and motivated. Organizations wanting to create successful hybrid work models with strong communications methodologies must first embrace the basic fundamentals of remote work ‘comms’.
Use Meetings to Build Human Connection and Joy
A consistent practice of open and clear employee communication is the foundation that high-performing remote workplace structures are built upon. Delivering important workforce communications through work group town halls, leadership Q&A sessions, and one-on-one check-ins utilizing FaceTime, Zoom, and other visual conferencing tools are a few ways to keep employees from feeling disenfranchised. Additionally, virtual coffee breaks and social happy hours give people a chance to build the essential human connections that all organizations need.
Tone > Emotion
Emotion is a critical element of engaging talent. Unfortunately, it’s harder to express emotions through digitally based employee communications. One approach to communicating to your remote workforce is to leverage tone – your voice if you will – in your communications. Focusing on your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and EVP pillars to shape your remote communication tone will go a long way to connecting people throughout your company as you will be reminding them of why they joined, why they stay, and why you make a difference.
Use a Hammer to Nail a Nail
As your communications tool chest has grown, it’s important to use the right tool for the job. A good practice is to create a simple chart listing each communication tool you have and then detail how each tool is best used regarding elements like capacity (number of words, etc.), formatting, audience reach, and employee preference. You can then use this chart to help guide you in deciding how each communication initiative can be delivered most effectively.
These are just some of the basics of remote communications. How are companies using them? Here are a few examples of how these strategies and tactics are being used to build stronger employee relationships.
Nokia’s sharp focus on implementing communication policies improved information flow throughout the company’s hierarchy, but it was also geared towards cultivating communication between employees. The company developed a series of tools specifically for use among employees – VideoHub, Infopedia, and BlogHub. These tools allow employees to communicate in a real-time blogging format rather than using email. They also provide employees with the ability to read previous exchanges on topics that apply to them, as well as establish their own communities across the entire company with immediate colleagues and employees they’ve never met.
Amazon strives to share information among employees in smaller, more easily digestible pieces. Their communications teams theorize that messages containing more than 100 words won’t be read, so precise, tidy ‘bites’ of information resembling social media updates are conveyed in favour of lengthy email chains and memos.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz built the Starbucks brand on the premise that employees were essential to customer experience. As such, huge investments have been made in internal communications tools and strategies to ensure employees at every level are instantly and routinely updated with regards to core values and mission, product offerings, and all other relative information. This builds employee trust, confidence, and loyalty.
Communicating via lengthy meetings can often be counterproductive. TED believes that the average attention span is between 10-18 minutes and limits their internal and remote meetings to no longer than that – a maximum time of 18 minutes.
In summary, relying on fundamental employee communication practices and approaches helps to connect all employees across the enterprise. It’s important to note, however, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution as each organization is shaped by their people, their preferences and the collective culture within. How can you find out what’s right for your organization? A great starting point is to listen to what your employees have to say.
Author: N. Robert Johnson, Director Employer Brand and Culture, Blu Ivy Group
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future.
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