Four social factors to consider for successful employee engagement

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Recent research conducted by Gallop in its latest State of the Workplace poll has found that only 11% of the UK workforce currently feels engaged. Creating a culture of open and transparent employee engagement in the workplace is vital for every business, although this is much easier said than done.

There are many reasons proposed for this decline, including generational differences in expectations from a job and employer, employees feeling undervalued and underutilised in their roles, poor management styles and advancement opportunities.

Some also claim that a more fragmented workforce is resulting in employees that are comfortable being less engaged with their employers and prepared to remain physically and mentally disconnected from the core business they work for.  

How can employers change this trend?

Whilst there remains widespread debate about how best to help this disengaged workforce feel more empowered and recognised, a key point that everyone agrees on is that the foundation of any successful employee engagement strategy is an effective method of internal communication.

It can be tempting to simply try whichever new app or platform is the latest on the market, but this is not a sustainable long-term strategy and is unlikely to achieve the end goal of an engaged and invested workforce.

Instead there needs to be a detailed and analytical consideration of which methods of communication work best for your employees, and truly resonate with them.

Prior to a successful internal communications strategy being implemented it is essential to think about the factors that encourage employees to adopt new ways of communicating and genuinely engage with the content that is delivered to them. Below are four key areas to consider.

1. Encourage unity and engage the entire workforce

Firstly, any proper internal communications system must have the ability to reach the entire workforce and provide high visibility and easy access to create a real community feeling in the workplace. Systems that do not have the necessary advances to reach a company’s entire staff will fall by the wayside as businesses instead opt for all-encompassing solutions that have a unified approach.

Simplicity is something that employees expect from any internal communications system. They have busy lives and need content that can be easily consumed

Truly effective modern content management systems are created to deliver a consistent message across the entire business – from LCD screens to computers and laptops and apps for tablets and mobile phones – therefore making them an invaluable internal communications tool delivering a cohesive message.

The best systems though are also flexible enough to be tailored to specific users, meaning fewer irrelevant communications being delivered. This in turn helps drive engagement, as each person is empowered, recognised and not just an anonymous part of a machine.

The employee will also see value in digesting the content delivered to them as it will benefit their working life. Whether it is information about specific relevant training, performance updates in relation to a personal goal or acknowledgement from management and team members on a job well done.

2. Engage your workforce with content they like to receive, in a manner they can process

Simplicity is also something that employees expect from any internal communications system. They have busy lives and need content that can be easily consumed and processed and add value to their work life rather than be considered a chore.

A recent study conducted by IDG found that just 39% of workers surveyed considered their current communications systems ‘easy to understand’ and ‘readily accessible’. This is a clear indicator that unnecessarily complex systems actually lower employee engagement and can lead to employees being prejudice against corporate communications before they even read the content.

To increase simplicity of internal messaging, visual aids are crucial. The human brain processes imagery up to 60,000 times faster than text, therefore ensuring employees will be able to digest the information they need quicker and with less hassle.

Employee communications that use advanced CMS platforms capable of delivering visually engaging, user-friendly content are vital in today’s competitive market where employees are used to a high level of technology and attention spans are decreasing.

3. Make employees feel valued with tailored individual communications

Flexibility is also important, ensuring that a system meets the varied and complex needs of any specific company. This means not only being applicable to a broad range of departments in any company, but also having the ability to function on several different platforms and devices.

Having a mobile extension to the core internal communications platform provides companies with an all-inclusive approach to internal communications.

In today’s social media-driven society people are now accustomed to having a voice and a platform where they can participate rather than just be passive.

Adaptable communications strategies can unify remote workers and create a sense of inclusion, rather than a disparate workforce unaware of business goals and lacking the desire to achieve them.

Clever communications strategies should thus include employees as much as possible and consider ‘interactivity and dialogue’ a priority. A versatile approach to internal communications encourages real-time interaction amongst employees and their management.

This includes supplying surveys and other materials that encourage feedback and responses, and incorporating features such as an interactive activity feed that is designed to offer personalised content to employees or including real-time employee generated social content into the communication tactics.

Our contemporary workforce is technologically adept and social media literate, by engaging with them in this manner messaging is more likely to gain traction and build a sense of unity.

4. Take an adaptable and scalable approach

Companies, now more than ever before, are finding that their staff want to work in separate locations, meaning that a company’s internal communications infrastructure needs to be equipped to cope with rising levels of remote working.

Adaptable communications strategies can unify remote workers and create a sense of inclusion, rather than a disparate workforce unaware of business goals and lacking the desire to achieve them.

Companies also need to think ahead, and work out not only what any CMS will offer them now, but look ahead to five or ten years down the line.

Future proofing is one of the most important aspects of growing a business, so whatever system is chosen to increase employee engagement must have the agility and flexibility to cope with any substantial changes that take place across the enterprise. As businesses need to be able to adapt, they need to ensure their internal systems have the same agility and scope for growth.

Employee engagement and interactivity are integral to keeping morale and productivity high in the highly pressurised modern workplace. As discussed, there are many social factors at play to consider when trying to engage today’s workforce.

And while companies will not solve all their internal communications issues by investing in new communications systems, those that do will stand a far greater chance of maintaining an engaged workforce and gaining an advantage.

About Martyn Barnett


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