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.

Anna Li

Written by Anna Li

Anna is an internal communications specialist. Working with key internal stakeholders, she develops and executes the internal communications plan for Trion. She also manages the Trion intranet to help foster greater collaboration and engagement between employees.

Trion Communications Anna.Li@trion-mma.com