The workforce is undergoing a major shift. To boost engagement and retain talent, employers need to level up their internal communication strategies.
Employees Are Disengaged
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were 4.3 million quits, or employee-initiated voluntary terminations, in August. It’s being called the Great Resignation, and it’s probably not over. According to CNBC, a survey found that 55% of people in the workforce say they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.
Many have proposed explanations: workers would rather collect stimulus checks; they have to stay home because they don’t have access to the childcare they need; they’re fed up with low wages and lackluster benefits.
Most likely, there’s no single reason for the increase in quit rates, but one thing is clear: workers are unsatisfied.
Gallup argues that the Great Resignation is really the Great Discontent. Simply put, workers are not engaged. Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report” found that the engagement rate was only 20% to 34% in the U.S. and Canada. A lack of engagement can push people to quit. But even when it doesn’t, the effects are noticeable. Workers who aren’t engaged tend to have reduced productivity and that can cost companies 18% of their annual salary.
Internal Communications and the Remote Work Problem
Engaging remote workers can be especially challenging, and this may be part of the reason why remote work has become a point of contention. According to Forbes, a survey by the Future Forum Pulse found a huge disconnect between how executives feel about returning to the office and how regular employees feel. Seventy six percent of employees saying they don’t want to return to the office and executives being three times more likely to say they do want to return.
Employees have a lot of reasons for preferring remote work. A FlexJobs survey found that 84% of remote workers rank not having a commute as the number one benefit, while 15% are worried about childcare and caregiver responsibilities is they have to return to the office. Perhaps the most important finding is that 58% of workers say they will “absolutely” look for a new job if they can’t continue to work remotely.
If employers want to retain their workers, they can’t simply force them back into the office - no matter how much they might want to. Employers need to find a way to make remote arrangements work long term. This means they need to figure out how to engage workers.
Remote work can make it more challenging for workers to engage with their teams, immerse themselves in the company culture and follow modeled behavior of leaders around them. More challenging – but not impossible. To meet that challenge, you need is the right internal communication strategy.
Crafting Your Internal Communication Plan
Employee communication is an integral part of employee engagement.
One of the first questions to ask when creating your internal communications strategy is whether you’re using the right communication channels with employees. Now that so many employees are working from home, you might not be able to depend on in-person meetings. Some virtual communication tools to consider include email, e-newsletters, video conferencing, text messages, employee portals and social media.
What works for you will depend on the preferences of your workforce. Elicit employee feedback to see what your workers find convenient.
Your Internal Communication: What to Include
When your workers are spread out, a solid internal communication strategy is essential. To ensure your strategy is effective, you must be thorough. Your internal communication strategy template should include the following pieces of content:
- Employee Benefits Education
- Appreciation & Kudos
- Company & Industry Updates
- Cross-Team/Cross-Department Updates
- Physical and Mental Wellness
- Teambuilding and Culture
- Service Delivery
Employee Benefits Education
A Glassdoor survey found that about 60% of respondents strongly consider perks and benefits before accepting a job offer. At the same time, HR Morning says that another survey found that 35% of workers don’t understand their benefits.
Employers can help boost satisfaction by providing materials that help employees understand and use their benefits. These materials could include the following:
- Bite-size comparisons of benefit options
- FAQs that cover common points of confusion
- Reminders to use FSA funds and other benefits with time restrictions
Appreciation & Kudos
Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. Harvard Business Review says that studies have shown recognition can result in a big morale boost. In one experiment, publicly awarded thank-you cards boosted performance for all members of a group, not just the top performers who received the cards.
- Send out cards acknowledging your workers’ effort and accomplishments.
- Praise your top performers on your blog and social media feed.
Company & Industry Updates
It’s important to keep employees informed. No one like feeling left out of the loop. If your employees don’t know what’s going on, they may feel uncertain about their role in the future of the company. They might assume you don’t consider them important enough.
- Create a regular newsletter with key updates.
- For big announcements, send special notices.
You might think that one team doesn’t need to know what another team is working on, but that stance can undermine the sense of teamwork and community you’re trying to build. Your workers will have a better sense of the company culture and business objectives if they know what other teams and departments are doing. To make sure people know what’s going on, you could try these things:
- Create a newsletter with information. This can be combined with the company and industry updates.
- When a team or department reaches a business goal, create materials to publicly acknowledge the success.
Physical and Mental Wellness
Workers are struggling with physical and mental health issues, which can result in higher insurance costs and reduced productivity. The CDC says that U.S. employers lose $36.4 billion annually, because of employees’ missed work caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and obesity, while the American Institute of Stress says that workplace stress costs U.S. businesses up to $300 billion each year.
- Create materials with tips for physical and mental health. You could focus on a different topic, such as stress reduction or physical exercise, each week or month.
- Provide reminders about the benefits available to employees.
Teambuilding and Culture
A Small Business Trends, survey found that 83% of employees say company culture is very important. You want to cultivate the right culture – otherwise, a negative culture might develop when you’re not paying attention. The right materials can help you do this.
- Run a series of employee spotlights, where each one focuses on a different employee.
- Create content that highlights and explains the company’s mission.
At the end of the day, your company exists to provide a service. When you engage your employees, you’re doing this because engaged employees provide superior customer service. With this in mind, it makes sense that some of your materials should focus directly on service delivery.
- Create scripts that employees can use.
- Share tips on how to deal with difficult situations.
- Commend employees who have excelled at service delivery.
Need Help with Internal Communication?
Many external communication tools also work well for internal communication. Let us know if you need help with employee e-newsletters, social posts, infographics, wellness communication or anything else. We’re here to help!