Engagement
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WE'RE ENTERING A SKIM-AND-SCAN ERA OF MULTI-TOUCH CONTENT

Had enough of emailing important information to staff, only to discover hardly anyone’s read it? Chris Leonard from SnapComms considers an alternative future of multi-touch, bitesize comms.

15th November 2017

Gently moving people along in the right direction can only be done by the systematic drip-feeding of culture-related messages; research indicates it can take as many as seven exposures before new information sinks in.

CHRIS LEONARD, SNAPCOMMS

It’s hard to believe that it’s 30 years since we were first introduced to email. In that time, this technology has hardly changed – yet the way we work, communicate and collaborate has.

No wonder then that this once popular channel no longer gets the eyeballs it used to. Millennials think of it as dull and too formal. Everyone else simply doesn’t have the time to open, read and click every email – much of which is spam – that lands in their inbox. 

Other attempts to get employee attention have their flaws, too: the company intranet lacks oomph! (no wonder it gets little traffic); and the mass arrival of enterprise social networks (ESNs) has only added to the digital noise, disorienting staff even more. 

Many communication experts believe this communication chaos is one of the main causes for the worrying decline in employee engagement. This trend has been detected by many industry leading reports, including ROI Communication Benchmark 2017AON Employee Engagement report; and Willis Towers Watson Global Workforce

Why does it matter? Because poor engagement is bad news for staff, and bad news for the bottom line.

What can be done to reverse the trend? How can business leaders get the cut-through they need and communicate faster and more effectively in today’s dynamic environment?


Multi-touch sequential internal content

As the above reports highlight, there is no single answer. But there is a new approach that’s rising in popularity, where the emphasis is on activating a broader communication spectrum – that go beyond email and the intranet.

This new movement is about combining a range of communication channels to deliver multi-touch, sequential internal content. It’s presented in bitesize format that’s easy to skim and scan, and that gets repeated over time – much the same way we, as consumers, experience advertising in the digital world.  

Long-form content will still be part of the communication landscape, but the format in which it’s presented, is changing (think: video).

  

No two channels are created equal

Interestingly, certain tools perform well across the entire spectrum. Desktop newsfeeds, known as tickers, are effective for reinforcing company messages (eg “Take a screen break every two hours”). But they’re also useful for communicating breaking news or inciting action (“Complete the staff survey now”).

There are times when a collaborative approach is required – where employees’ ideas and opinions must be captured, benchmarked and actioned. This is where ESNs excel.

Often a top-down cascade approach is needed, where specific instructions or strategy require careful communication, removing the risk of ambiguity or Chinese whispers.

Equally, some messages demand urgent attention with an immediate call to action, while others are a slow burn, building awareness and understanding over time.


Building a corporate culture

Culture and employee engagement go hand in hand. Today, staff deserve a richer, more entertaining and participative form of internal communications to help them bring an organisation’s values to life; to authentically live and breathe their employer’s culture. 

Yes, building a culture is a long-game. And yes, the rewards can be long-term.

Organisational culture can be described as the portrayal of shared attitudes, values and standards. But communicating all this in a memorable and engaging way requires creativity, repetition and different channels to suit different learning styles. 

Gently moving people along in the right direction can only be done by the systematic drip-feeding of culture-related messages. Research indicates it can take as many as seven exposures before new information sinks in. 

Culture campaigns comprising multi-media content delivered via video, screensavers and tickers are great for creating momentum and reinforcing key messages. Employee-fronted content is another trend that fits snugly under the authentic banner.

Newsletters have come a long way since the single-sided A4 update. These days, their digital format provides a dynamic environment for rich media content such as video, tickers and interactive polls that lift readership and engagement.

Ensure you provide a mechanism to capture employees’ input. Forums, quizzes and surveys provide public and private ways to get staff to share their opinions.

In summary, experiment with new internal communication channels. There are many new and exciting ways to interact with employees – many of which bypass email completely.

Chris Leonard is cofounder and CEO of SnapComms, a world-leading provider of internal communications software.

Gently moving people along in the right direction can only be done by the systematic drip-feeding of culture-related messages; research indicates it can take as many as seven exposures before new information sinks in.

CHRIS LEONARD, SNAPCOMMS

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