3 ways to break through the information overload
The average employee receives approximately 120 emails per day.1 Buried in those 120 emails is every survey request, compliance update, and company newsletter you’ve ever sent. Your other rivals are the myriad IMs, texts, popups, meeting reminders, and cat memes hitting your employees daily, and the precious resource you are competing for is their mindshare. Today we have more information available at our fingertips than ever before. More than 3.1 million gigabytes of internet data are used by Americans, every minute.2 No wonder more than two-thirds of employees nationwide are disengaged with their work;3 it’s a data tsunami! So how can you avoid your communications falling into the delete, delete trap? Let’s take a look at what the pros do.
Marketers and communications professionals are surgical in how they choose, tailor, and time both content and delivery. Whether engaging external or internal customers, it’s critical now more than ever to apply the same rigor used in segmentation strategies to break through the noise and reach your employees.
Here are a few tactical things you can do to get started:
1. Know who you’re talking to – The first step is to understand your audience. Remember that your readers and listeners are filtering your message through their interests, beliefs, and attitudes. Think through the demographics and composition of the group and take a moment to walk in their shoes. Let this inform how you adapt your message to maximize its reach and impact.
Is the purpose of your message to inform or persuade? Think about collective experiences the organization has recently undergone (e.g., a new operating model, M&A activity, etc.) to evaluate how ready they are to hear your message. This is where “the thought counts.”
2. Know how to reach them – Often, your delivery channel is just as important as the delivery. Don’t fall into the trap of “the way we’ve always done it.” Determine whether your message is best served via email, team scrums, status reports, townhalls, or internal collaboration tools, such as Slack or Workplace. You can also harness the power of Organizational Network Analysis to analyze the informal networks that exist within your organization and identify the influencers who can engage to help share your message. Remember that influencers are not necessarily the most titled individuals within your organization.
Then, be creative about how you package your content for each respective channel; reach into your communications toolbox to dress up your message and increase its reach. Your tools might be humor, click-bait headlines, images, videos, infographics, internal memes, contests, or other eye-catching, thumb-scroll-stopping ideas. Try something unconventional!
One organization we worked with was undergoing a large-scale business transformation, and its employees were not engaged with the traditional communications from the leadership team. So the team revamped the entire communications approach: They created an animated video series to provide specific information to different business units about what was coming and the change impacts; they engaged employees in contests and gave out prizes to the winners; and they created communication reels that were shown on video screens throughout the offices. Following the revamp, the team received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the animated videos from across the entire organization. This innovative approach elevated communications and resonated with employees at all levels, across continents and cultures.
3. Find their heartstrings – Remember that your message needs to reach your employee audience both collectively and individually. Your ability to answer the age-old “What’s in it for me?” question is critical to establishing connection. Ditch the corporate jargon and communicate your call-to-action with vision, clarity, and purpose. Use your passion, courageous vulnerability, stories, or anecdotes to connect with your employees on a human level.
A very senior Deloitte leader uses her Instagram following to bring the organization’s desired culture and strategy to life with attention-grabbing images, captions, and creative hashtags. Her Instagram account gives professionals the opportunity to engage with her directly in a different environment. This type of interaction can result in highly engaged employees who feel like they can trust their leaders.
Try these suggestions and make up some of your own to stay top of mind with your employees in an environment of constant disruption. An adaptable and forward-thinking employee engagement strategy is essential for an organization to thrive. Be willing to break the mold!
1 Email statistics report: 2015–2019, The Radicati Group, Inc. https://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Email-Statistics-Report-2015-2019-Executive-Summary.pdf.
2 Josh James, “Data never sleeps 6.0,” Domo, June 5, 2018, https://www.domo.com/blog/data-never-sleeps-6/.
3 Jim Harter, “Employee engagement on the rise in the U.S.,” Gallup, August 28, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/241649/employee-engagement-rise.aspx