Trending topics. Live video. Chatbots. Streaming entertainment. Augmented reality. Social media activism. Our world keeps changing faster, which means we are constantly adapting to new realities. How can organizations compete for the attention of their employees in a click-bait society? Not by fighting the changes, but by embracing them. Start by considering these six key communications shifts happening across organizations.
Thinking through and addressing the implications of constant, often disruptive, evolution has become a primary focus area for all of us pondering the future of work. How we communicate is a big part of this. Many of us readily adopt new technologies and new ways of communicating at a fast rate in our personal lives. What happens when we integrate our personal communication tendencies into the workplace?
Communications play an integral role in how we effectively engage employees. Adjusting communications strategies and technologies to be more in sync with the times is essential not only to meet employee (and customer) expectations but also to support the organization in being more digital, efficient, and adaptable overall.
Consider how these six shifts can factor into creating a modern, effective communication strategy for your organization:
- Analytics-driven communications – When employee data is readily available, it can be used to tailor communications to the audience. Data-driven communication analytics makes it possible to reach people with the right messages in the right format at the right time—when they’re most likely to be available and receptive. Personalized messages can foster a connection with individuals and make them feel valued, rather than just another “cog in the machine.”
- Collaboration tools that promote real-time information sharing – Findings from the Deloitte 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey show that face-to-face meetings and phone meetings are on the decline, while work collaboration platforms are on the upswing.1 A variety of collaboration platforms and tools are effective vehicles for employee-to-employee communication. These platforms also enable organizations to see what is top-of-mind for employees so they can use that information when making decisions.
- Innovative communication channels – Using modern channels for employee communications helps keep your workforce engaged. Podcasts, social media platforms, and brief videos are a few examples of channels employees use in their personal lives that can also be effective for organizational communications.
- Ease of accessibility to information – Making information readily available to employees is key to keeping them informed and engaged, thus creating a sense of transparency and trust between the people and the organization. Employees should be able to pull information when they need it as well as having it pushed out to them. Having the ability to share information themselves is important as well. Maintaining the open flow of communication in both directions not only helps support and engage employees but also gives the organization a “listening” channel and broader access to the power of their employee “crowd.”
- Frequent, bite-sized messaging – Outside of work, we are accustomed to receiving information in quick, bite-sized formats. Instagram stories, click-bait headlines, and numbered lists draw us in and keep our attention. To increase the likelihood of employees reading corporate communications, organizations should use brief, catchy, to-the-point messaging as often as possible.
- Communication platforms to enable working on the go – In this digital age, employees can work together without being in the same location by harnessing the power of video conferencing, webinars, virtual huddles, mobile messaging apps, and more. Employees can stay interconnected and still have the flexibility to balance the demands of work and personal life, another key to increasing engagement and job satisfaction.
Finding ways to implement these six shifts can help organizations increase employee engagement by communicating in ways that are most effective and prevalent in the digital age. As millennials make up more of the workforce share—50 percent of the US workforce in 2020 and 75 percent of the global workforce by 20302 — these communication shifts will likely become expected.
High employee engagement can yield considerable benefits, such as:
- Retention – Organizations with engaged workers have employees who are 87 percent more likely to stay.3
- Productivity – Organizations with engaged workers have employees who are 57 percent more effective than organizations with low engagement.4
- Performance – Work units in the top 25 percent of employee engagement are 3.4x more effective financially than the units in the bottom half.5
- Growth – Organizations with highly engaged employees had an average of 2.3x greater revenue growth over 3 years than the average.6
Risk of disengaged employees can result in:
- Turnover – 51 percent of workers are looking to leave their current jobs.7
- Cost – Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion annually.8
Considering the communication shifts in the digital age and seeing how they can impact employee engagement, how will you take action? A good way to start is to analyze the current communication practices in your organization and see how you can modernize and improve your approach.
- Does your organization currently track communications data that could be mined for insights?
- Do you know your employees’ preferences? Do they have suggestions for platforms or strategies they’ve used effectively?
- Can you test new platforms and channels with a subset of employees?
- How can you retool communications to keep them short and impactful?
- How can you adjust your communications channels to support remote work?
Keeping the lines of communication open—organization to employees, employees to the organization, and employee to employee—is essential to working effectively in the digital age. Finding ways to incorporate the six shifts above can help you craft a more innovative communication strategy that engages your employees, helps them be productive, and progresses your organization’s ongoing digital journey.
1 Dimple Agarwal, Josh Bersin, Gaurav Lahiri, Jeff Schwartz, Erica Volini, “The hyper-connect workplace: Will productivity reign?” The rise of the social enterprise: 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends.
2 How Shifting Communication Trends Are Impacting Digital Transformation https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/06/06/how-shifting-communication-trends-are-impacting-digital-transformation/#38d08683408f
3 Powering your bottom line through employee engagement http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/~/media/Files/documents/executive-development/powering-your-bottom-line.pdf
5Susan Sorenson, “How employee engagement drives growth” Gallup Business Journal, June 20, 2013. https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx
6 Powering your bottom line through employee engagement http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/~/media/Files/documents/executive-development/powering-your-bottom-line.pdf
7 State of the American Workplace http://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx
8 DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Can Foster Employee Ownership of Engagement https://www.conference-board.org/dna-engagement2017/