How to engage employees through internal communication


Engaged employees are a goldmine. Why? Because they’re productive, highly proficient and contribute more to your bottom line than you realise. They’re also a dime a dozen. The truly engaged employee is a rarity in an economy where just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged according to research by Gallup.


Globally, engaged employees offer employers a higher price to productivity ratio than their disengaged peers. In other words, whatever their cost to company, there is a good chance that the engaged employee brings in much more value than you pay them. These employees stand out because of the “discretionary effort” they bring to every task. They’re the “go the extra mile” employees who work passionately and create strong connections with their company. They’re proactive. They show up. And they’ve made their work role something of a calling instead of counting the clock until home time. In short, they are your drivers of innovation and will move your business forward faster than anyone else can.


Here are few tips to help you engage employees through internal communication:


Focus on what you can influence before deciding how to engage employees

Engaging employees requires careful and targeted attention. But recognise that while internal communication is a big driver of employee engagement, it is not the only driver. Some engagement factors, like salary package and work location, may be out of your control as a communicator. Influence what you can, where you can.


There is an “I” in team

People do not lose their individuality just because they’re part of the team. While learning to solve problems together and engaging a variety of views is part of working organisationally, each person still operates as an individual. To drive employee engagement, understand that employees don’t leave their personalities at home when they arrive at work each day. Each person’s potential extends beyond their job description, and if you can engage them as individuals, recognising they have unique skillsets and life experiences, you can help them unlock workplace success. For example, an extrovert may love working in groups, but can be a distraction if the group isn’t tempered by moments of focus and direction. Learning how to engage employees begins every time you interact with them. This either inspires discretionary effort and greater levels of engagement, or it disengages and demotivates them.


Ask for feedback. Then follow through

It’s not enough to conduct an annual staff survey just to make staff feel listened to. If you’re going to measure employee sentiment and ask for opinions, then do something constructive with the data you’ve collected. Your actions must be specific, relevant and actionable. By doing so, you send the message to staff that you not only hear their opinions, you value and act on them.


Create a fear-free environment

Let your employees make certain decisions without having to get a chain of approvals first. This shows trust. And if they make a mistake? So what. Talk to them about the learning and what they might do differently in the future. The big danger in high performance-based environments is that employees fear being reprimanded if their decisions don’t work out. They then either never make decisions (making a manager’s work impossible to delegate) or try to share decision-making responsibility among the whole team so that no one person is vilified if something bad happens. That’s not a culture of ownership and shared responsibility, but rather one of fear, and it’s not the way to engage employees.


Select your managers very (very, very) carefully

Good managers understand that their (and the organisation’s) success rests on employee achievements. They make an effort to understand every employee and help them unlock their strengths in the role. These managers empower others, and they’re crucial to keeping and accelerating employee engagement.


Say thank you for a job well done

We know that employees are “thanked” being paid a salary every month for their work. But to engage employers, you need to go further. Something as simple as offering an employee public recognition for a job well done can be the linchpin in moving their performance and commitment to the next level. Or, you could go even further and offer strong performers a monetary incentive, such as a bonus payment on top of their salary for the month, or a “duvet day” at home that does not subtract from their annual leave allowance.


Offer employees “inside” information

Rather than ringfencing the direction of the company and some of its challenges for directors and executive committees, why not keep your employee in the loop. This kind of transparency pays off, because employees feel trusted and respected. While certain things should always be confidential (like pay packages), other kinds of information can increase engagement.


Use the right content, delivered in the right way

By communicating with your employees on a variety of relevant channels with clear and authentic content that doesn’t overload them, you powerfully influence your workplace culture. Consider:

  • videos for maximum informational retention;
  • podcasts for easy to produce content that can be listened to while on the go;
  • webinars for live video presentation; and
  • infographics for condensing complex information into highly visual forms.

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