Relevance: the key to organisational engagement

Employees within your organisation — no matter where they rank in the org chart — are a lot like the customers of today. Rather than being interested in communications that are all about telling the company story (i.e., “Look at what we did/are doing as a company”), they’re much more interested in what’s in it for them.

In a study from June of this year, Gallup found that the percentage of employees who are “psychologically unattached to their work and their company” hit a new all-time high of 47%.

Another study showed that information overload was affecting employees health as well as limiting their ability to carry out their roles - 36% of managers reported poor health due to excessive information they were required to process in their workplace.

A typical day can include email blasts, briefs, meetings, messages, video calls and many other things that tend to make people switch off if it gets too much.

What does that mean for your internal communications? In order to help foster a psychological attachment for employees and dull the noise of information overload, organisations must change to a model that elevates the personal and increasingly demonstrates the value of the individual to the organisation.

Internal communications must feel personal, relevant and add value to the individual. Here’s what that might look like.

Remove the word “broadcast” from your vocabulary

Employees, just like customers, are inundated with information from every direction and every device. Naturally, they’re looking for ways to weed out and cut through the noise. If at first glance they perceive an email or other corporate message doesn’t relate to them, they’re less likely to give it a second look.

The first step in providing relevant information that your employees will consume vs. instantly delete or ignore is to eliminate or minimise your reliance on batch-and-blast communication.

Think: right message, right time, right employee.

In the world of marketing, there’s been a massive shift in recent years away from a single, company-centric message to more personalised communication. This shift is key inside your organisation as well.

Employees want to feel valued first and informed second. Without those two things, they won’t be successful in their roles — and won’t be as able to contribute to the wider success of the organisation.

This involves changing the way your internal communications come together and gets distributed at the most basic level, from strategy to operations.

Delivering the right message to the right employee at the right time starts with gathering information that will allow you to create better, more relevant content. This involves bringing in additional tools that will allow for the personalised distribution of content.

One way to reach this new level of understanding is to create personas. A persona is a fictionalised, highly detailed representation of a certain employee. While the persona itself is fiction, the information included is based on real interviews, and includes demographics, psychographics, responsibilities, preferences, problems they need to solve, and so on.

Once you have personas in place, use them to create a brand-new content plan that features topics important to those personas relating to their specific objectives and problems they’re tasked with solving.

This plan should then focus on distributing company messaging in a more personalised way. Look for ways you can build flexibility into your distribution model through digital tools like communication apps, and option that allow employees to interact with or generate content.

  • Does the tool or platform you select allow employees to opt-in to certain topics that are relevant to them and their role?
  • Does it offer distribution via the channels that employees want to engage with (and that they can easily engage with anywhere, anytime)?

When it comes to reaching new levels of organisational engagement, the people within your organisation — not just the business objectives or latest company news — are the “why.” The method or tool you select for content distribution is the “how.” Put together, you can deliver the relevant “what” where and when your employees need it most.

James Scott is the CEO of Thrive.

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