Technology, the very thing that kept us connected during the pandemic, could now be making employees switch off. What does this mean for the future of employee communications?
Have you seen The Great Disconnect? Released in 2019, the documentary showed how technology disconnects us from people, mainly because we’re all too busy staring at our screens.
But then, in a dramatic plot twist no-one could not have foreseen, 2020 and ’21 saw us connected only by technology as we sat through unending lockdowns, staring at our screens. And in 2022 we’ve reached the third act in the tale: the one where we’ve stared at our screens so much, we’re now struggling to connect either online or offline in any meaningful way.
This is no truer than in the workplace. Our eyeballs are burning after two intense years spent juggling Zoom calls, Teams channels and all the other communications tools that flourished when our homes became our offices. We’re now dealing with overwhelming levels of noise and information.
For many people, this barrage of communications, designed to connect increasingly diverse and disparate workforces, is starting to have the complete opposite effect. So when your people are switching off from any company communications, how can you cut through the noise and get them to engage with your annual enrollment? Or excited about your new share plan?
The changes we’ve seen over the last few years could leave anyone tasked with engaging employees feeling a little… lost. Especially because (and just to complicate matters) employees are also reporting that they’re leaving organisations because they don’t feel valued, supported, or like they belong. So how do you address all of this, while making sure you don’t bombard and overwhelm your people to the point of utter distraction? It’s a fine line we’re all treading.
There are answers, though you may need to pick and choose which ones would work best for your people. We can’t cover everything here (we don’t want to be an example of the overwhelm we’ve just talked about!), but here are a few of the fresh communications approaches we’re seeing emerge from the fog of the last two years:
Think of employees as customers
Retail uses an omnichannel approach when marketing to customers. Translation: taking customers on a journey through different communication methods. For example – a billboard has a QR code, which take you to a facebook page where you can interact with the brand, and they send you relevant messages. This approach is gaining popularity in employee communications too.
In the same way that a retailer builds a customer profile, so that it can tailor all its marketing based on things like the person’s whereabouts and behaviour, so you could create a seamless experience for your employees. Instead of ‘bombarding’ them on multiple channels and hoping the message sticks, you get to deliver relevant messages only, via the channels you know they prefer. This could increase your people’s awareness of their reward, leading to greater engagement with your offerring.
Once you have identified the channels that work for your people, stick with them, so they know where their information will be coming from.
Be more personal
Reaching out to your employees on the right channels is one thing, but that’s only half the story when it comes to effective engagement. In an age where data drives engagement (some people now see big data as a more valuable resource than oil), people are used to receiving highly targeted, personalised and relevant communication outside of work – so why should they expect anything less as an employee?
And yet, so many companies still take a ‘one-size fits-all’ approach to reward communications, without considering individual people’s needs, likes or concerns.
You could work with your share plan administrator to really make sure your communications hit the right note with your people, using both pools of data to give each employee a unique experience that speak to them.
Personalised messages aren’t just more likely to cut through all the other noise. When executed well, they lead to better knowledge, more information sharing and feelings of value and belonging. They can also be used as part of your offering: here at Eximia, we’re great advocates of using communications to improve people’s financial education and wellbeing. All of this contributes to a better overall employee experience, and higher overall engagement with your reward!
Build more consistency in your messaging
It sounds simple enough, but this is arguably one of the biggest challenges many organisations face. Remote working has given us a plethora of new ways to connect, but it’s also created ability for communication to come from anywhere: anyone in any department can send out emails or arrange a Teams call.
And when your share plan and reward communications don’t all sing from a familiar song sheet, they create confusion, and a cacophony that becomes part of that noise we’ve talked about.
The right tools, such as having a consistent and recognisable tone of voice that you apply to all your messaging, can go a long way toward turning noise into soothingly familiar comms that people trust and willingly engage with. If you’ve got various share plans, you may want to differentiate between them – for example, giving each one a unique visual identity.
For more sound advice on cutting through the noise and creating share plan or reward communications your employees will love, come and chat to us.