Employees have the power to launch a company to success through their inspiration and desire to innovate, yet Gallup polls indicate that over half of your employees simply aren’t engaged at work. This disengagement costs workforces up to $550 billion each year, and much of it stems from one thing: lack of communication.
Though many organizations do try to utilize resources like email or a company intranet, effective communication requires a dynamic approach with the understanding that it can’t be successful under a one-size-fits-all mindset. In fact, our research found that while most employees want to be kept up-to-date on company news and information, about 25% would rather receive only the information that’s directly relevant to them. It’s becoming increasingly critical to tap into this relevancy component while still keeping the needs and best interest of the company in mind.
Different teams, job functions and positions—even the personalities within those positions—simply have different communication needs. If business leaders can unlock what those needs are and how they correlate to communication preferences, the foundation of your engagement strategy will be significantly stronger and allow the opportunity for it to make a greater impact.
Infusing Relevance into Your Communication Strategy
Relevant, customized and timely internal communication is critical to improving employee engagement. Staff members who are well-informed are also more productive, but there’s more than just one way of sharing information. As the adage goes: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
Different personas within your workforce have different preferences and tendencies when accessing and digesting content. While a millennial might prefer to receive a memo through instant messaging, a baby-boomer might prefer something more formal. It’s important to take these variances into consideration when crafting your strategy.
Another point to consider is that employee communication is more than just saturating your workforce with information—it’s about creating an environment where people who want to know more have the resources to do so, while also offering opt-out options for those who might feel overwhelmed by information inundation. You can accomplish this by doing things like:
- Learning what type of information your different segments need for better efficiency and productivity
- Focusing on mandatory correspondence first, and making less critical information (like industry news or upcoming events) readily accessible but not distracting
- Setting expectations for how employees should handle communication from you and what potential actions might need to be taken
- Allowing employees to read and share information on a cadence that works best for them
By exploring the methods of communication most prominent in your workforce, you’ll open up the lines of communication with previously disengaged employees as well as activate passive groups of employees by empowering them to have a voice.
Research from McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity can improve 20-25% when employees feel connected—which monetarily translates to a potential $1.3 trillion increase in annual revenue. Effective employee communication can be used for a variety of reasons beyond just productivity as well, such as building and maintaining relationships, promoting innovation and improving efficiency.
Methods for Tailoring Your Message
In most cases, transforming your employee communications strategy from a one-size-fits-all approach into a program that actively engages each segment of your team requires you to target different groups and personality types. Considering the internal demographics of your team can reveal crucial information about communication preferences, which in turn cultivates a more effective corporate culture.
For instance, when you onboard a new hire to your employee communication platform, you could ask for 30-day feedback that will allow you some insight into how and when different groups want to receive information. You can also look closer at the unique characteristics of “active” and “passive” employees within your team, to pinpoint disengagement and get ahead of the problem. After all, 86% of employees consider ineffective/lack of communication to be the reason for their workplace failures.
You can also take data revealed in your communication analytics one step further by surfacing key findings to relevant teams. If you know which types of employees are more likely to be engaged and open to communication at work, you can proactively arm HR and Talent Acquisition with that information and enable them to grow an efficient workforce less prone to turnover.
Addressing the Different Personalities Among Your Team
Ultimately, finding the right employee communication tools and methods for your employees comes down to understanding your workforce. Think carefully about the different personality types and groups within your team.
1. Leaders & Managers
Leaders and managers are generally most interested in the “what and when” information—what they need to do, and when they need to do it. This is because many managers feel time-starved, and therefore look for the bottom line in their communication efforts. If you can streamline communication with this section of your workforce, they’ll be much more likely to hear you.
2. Influencers & Innovators
Your influencers and innovators are the group of employees often responsible for coming up with new ideas or opportunities to spark growth in your business. What they’ll be looking for from you is the “why” information.
When communicating with these individuals, be sure to provide context on why a task or assignment is important. If influencers don’t understand the purpose of a project, they’ll be more likely to postpone it or avoid it altogether. You can also increase the pace of innovation if you help this group feel interconnected and that their combined impact is felt across entire organization.
3. Harmonizers & Nurturers
Harmonizers and nurturers are employees who make it a point to foster relationships with others—whether it’s customers, clients or coworkers. The main information they want relates to the “who”—who on the team will be involved in executing the task and which teams it will impact in the long run. This insight will help them adapt their strategy and frame it to better fit their audience.
Because these professionals are more likely to follow routine, it’ll be helpful to ask if they’re familiar with processes required to complete an assignment. This group is likely to default to paths they’ve followed before, so if you need them to adhere to something more specific, it’s important to communicate that upfront.
4. Analyzers & Systemizers
Finally, your analyzers and systemizers are the kinds of employees who need to access as much information and data as possible. In some cases, it’s worth it to “over-communicate” when giving information on a project in order to address all the questions this group might have. At the very least, doing so will ensure that each team member has access to a collection of relevant data that they can analyze at their leisure.
It’s also worth making sure that these employees have time to think about what you’ve communicated to them before you expect them to act on it. This processing time is essential for certain personality types in the workforce, and some people will need time to think about the best course of action for a task before they jump in.
Considering Different Employee Communication Tools
Aside from figuring out what information your employees want, you’ll also need to think about how they want to receive it. There are plenty of employee communication tools out there that can help streamline collaboration, so make sure you don’t get stuck to one method. If you think your program might be in a rut, ask employees for feedback and reevaluate whether or not your current process and the tools you use still make sense.
The world of communication is evolving, from open meetings, to one-on-one presentations, collaboration tools, instant messaging, and more. Finding the right solution for your team is all about learning what your staff need to thrive, and how they need to receive it.
Proof That Effective Employee Communication Isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All Mindset
Written by Aria Solar on July 12, 2017