I love listicles and devour them for news. 5 Things You Need to Know This Week. 10 Things to Make with Leftover Chicken. My boyfriend hates them. He prefers getting his information from discussion forums. People have grown accustomed to getting news in their desired format: lists, long-form articles, discussion forums, infographics, videos, etc. So why do companies expect their one-size-fits-all employee communications will be effective?
There are currently five generations in the workforce. Each generation brings insights from their different lifestyles and experiences. Each also has different preferences and expectations for communications. While traditionalists generally expect audiences to be passive and respectful to authority, millennials want to be engaged.
This generational gap is one of many in a workforce where one-size-fits-all communications fails. Others may include gender, culture, location, and roles. After all, what would an employee at a manufacturing plant think about receiving an email of corporate speak?
In a study by GuideSpark, over 70% of respondents said that they want their companies to improve how they communicate information.
It’s Just Talking to Our Employees. Why Does It Matter?
Research from Gallup shows disengagement remains a critical problem for the American workforce It costs businesses up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. In the American workplace with more than 100 million full-time employees:
- 16% are actively disengaged – completely miserable at work.
- 51% are disengaged – just there, doing the bare minimum to squeak by.
- 33% are engaged – truly love their jobs and make their organization better every day.
Employees who are actively disengaged are “more likely to steal from their company, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays and drive customers away.” One cause of low engagement is leaders who don’t define and communicate the company vision and rally employees around it.
- Only 22% of employees strongly agree their organization’s leadership has a clear direction for the organization.
- Only 13% of employees strongly agree their organization’s leadership communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.
What Can Employers Do?
Communication is “the cornerstone of an engaged workforce” and is key in improving employee engagement. To communicate effectively with employees, employers must:
- Understand your organization. Talk to your employees and find out what they want. What is working? What is not working? What do they need? How do they want it?
- Personalize your approach. Once you understand the differences in your organization, decide how you want to engage the various groups.
For each message, consider the following:
- Audience: Who needs to get this message? What is the best way to group to capture their different interests or viewpoints in this message? You could group message recipients by demographics, geography, or employment area.
- Content: What does each group need in order for the message to resonate with them? Do they need proof points or background information?
- Channel: What’s the most effective way to reach each group? This may include face-to-face meetings, mail, email, text messages, social media, or company intranets.
- Medium: What’s the most effective way to communicate different messages? This may include in-person, video, email, article, blog post or infographic.
- Speaker: Who should deliver each message? Would it be more impactful if a message came from a higher-up, like the CEO or someone who knows the group personally, like their line manager?
- Obstacles: Consider different factors that may impact your message reaching your audience. Is it the group’s busy time of the year when they are already behind on emails? If so, will another email be just lost in the shuffle?
Think of your organization’s different audiences and consider their needs when planning communications. You will be able to reach them more effectively and improve your employee engagement.
Lately, I’ve been researching different strategies to achieve goals. Whether a goal is personal or work-related, long- or short-term , taking the time to plan and prepare is key finishing with a home run! Here are six ways to help you efficiently and realistically reach your goals, so you are more likely to follow through with success:
1.First and foremost, a goal should be motivating. If you create a goal that’s too lofty or too small, you may become discouraged or bored, and you may find yourself departing from it early on. Think of something that interests you, or something that you always wanted to do, like taking extra courses to brush up on a skill, or starting a new blog. Once you’ve completed one goal, you’ll look head to the next one.
2. Try not to focus so much on the end result or the deadline of a goal. Rather, set a schedule to consistently work towards reaching it. For example, if you know you’ve been planning to finish a good book you’ve been putting off reading, schedule a time every day to spend a half hour reading. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing up the last chapter.
3. I am big on visualizing things to make them come to light. As you think of a goal you want to do, try to visualize achieving it. What will completing your goal feel like? What result will this accomplishment bring you?
4. Make achieving your goal fun. Having incentives can be a good way to keep motivated. For example, I use my iPhone fitness app to track and store my fitness goals. Once a fitness goal has been reached, it rewards me with a digital medal. Accomplishing a goal and getting a reward makes it all the more worthwhile.
5. Manage your goal more effectively by breaking it down into smaller tasks. It may be easier to see your goal as a series of small steps, rather than one large project. When putting your goal into smaller steps, you may be able to manager tasks better. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to attaining your goal.
6. Write down your goals in a journal or display them on Post-It notes in plain sight. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, people who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Turning a goal into reality may require you to see it on paper and let that be your starting point. A good quote taken from an excerpt of a self-help book states, “Goals are the road maps that guide you to your destination. Cultivate the habit of setting clearly-defined written goals” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.
Most importantly, stay positive and look ahead. When it’s time to start thinking about setting goals, be ready to dive in and set a schedule to help complete them by your target date. Make it fun and realistic. If it gets to be too overwhelming, break your goals down into smaller tasks to complete one-by-one. Having a plan and working toward your goals on a consistent basis will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
There is one thing each of us can do to ensure that our benefits have the greatest impact on our loved ones—especially in the event of our own passing.
The one simple thing is to update our beneficiaries. Each year, during open enrollment, take a look at the beneficiaries you have listed for each benefit that has them. Do you have critical illness insurance? Check the beneficiaries. Life insurance? Check the beneficiaries. Do you have a 401(k) plan, or more than one? IRAs? Brokerage accounts? Check, double-check, and triple-check those beneficiaries at open enrollment or when you have a major life event. If you only have a primary beneficiary listed, make sure you also list a contingent beneficiary (in case something happens to your primary).
Life is fleeting and fragile. We each think that we’re going to live forever, but we are not. And the young and healthy are not immune. My wife’s coworker lost his daughter on a hiking trip out west last month. She succumbed to an illness all but eradicated in the modern age. When we do pass, the sadness and loss for our loved ones will be devastating. The best we can do is prepare for the eventuality and be sure our family can readily access whatever measures we’ve set aside.
If You Don’t Update
What happens if you don’t? First of all, your assets could go to someone you didn’t intend. Perhaps you are now in your second marriage, but your ex-spouse is still listed as primary beneficiary on several old accounts. You could set up serious family discord—nothing puts already sensitive nerves on edge like a money dispute.
If you don’t name beneficiaries, parts of your estate could end up going through probate in the courts. That means your loved ones will be waiting and wondering about their inheritances. And there is always the chance that your assets will be distributed in a manner in which you didn’t intend.
The Beauty of Beneficiaries
When a policy holder dies, insurance companies, retirement account trustees, and brokerage houses look at the beneficiaries first. They are not subject to the will probate process. If you are a primary beneficiary on a policy, IRA, 401(k), and many other account types, those assets come to you in the event of the account or policy owner’s death.
Primary v. Contingent Beneficiaries
There are two types of beneficiaries for most account types: primary and contingent. You can split up your assets in any manner of percentages, but it’s important to note that primary beneficiaries always take precedence over contingents. In other words, if you have two primary beneficiaries listed at receiving 50% of the account each and one of those primaries has also passed. The surviving primary beneficiary would receive the entire value of the account. The contingent beneficiaries would receive nothing.
That’s why it’s so important that your paperwork is up to date. Let’s say, for instance, you have two siblings listed as primary beneficiaries at 50% each, and four nieces and nephews listed as contingents at 25% each. Both of your siblings would need to be deceased for any of your nieces and nephews to receive any proceeds from that account.
Take a minute right now to check all your beneficiaries. Part of the reason you got that term life policy or maxed out that IRA was to take care of your loved ones when you pass on. Why not make absolutely sure those assets will go where you intended them?
Over the years, I have noticed the following procedures correlate with efficient design projects.
Tell us your problems, goals and expectations
A big part of the design process is figuring out how to solve your problems and meet your goals and expectations with an exciting design. Before designers begin working with colors and images we put a lot of thought into how we can communicate your information in a logical way. Design can help solve your communication problems and meet your goals and expectations. One problem could be how to communicate a complicated open enrollment benefit chart in an easy-to-understand way. Another issue is how to make sure your target audience receives important information. If we know what you need to accomplish, we can figure out the best way to get the results you want.
Give us your guidelines, stylesheets and deadlines
The more information you give us the better. If you are not sure what you want (besides visually-appealing content) even the smallest detail or note is helpful. But, remember, the less information we have the greater the chance the proof will not be what you expected, and it may require extensive revisions. The deadline is also important. Most designers I know will change things and think of new ideas and modifications until the end of time, so we need a deadline. A deadline helps us fit all creativity, design execution, and proofing into the time available to us.
Tell us what you don’t you want
Telling us what you don’t want is also helpful. It helps us narrow down what we have to work with and also makes you happy since your proof won’t contain your pet peeves. If you do not like purple, Helvetica, and cartoony art let us know upfront.
Give us examples
If you have an example of what how envision your project, show it to us. We won’t copy the examples but will use them to get an idea of what you want for the project’s overall look. Maybe you envision it clean with a lot of white space, or fun, or corporate. Since all these styles are subjective an example helps us determine your idea of “fun.”
Tell us what you like and dislike about the proof
We took all information you gave us and figured out a way to visually represent it. The proof is now in your inbox. The first draft should be close to what you were expecting relative to the amount of information you gave us. If the proof is not what you were expecting there is a positive consequence. We now have an example of what you don’t want. The best thing we can do is apply the above steps to the proof. Tell us what you don’t like about the proof, give us examples of what you do like, and give us guidelines on what to change.
Working with your graphic designer and achieving great results will be easy if you follow the above recommendations.