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.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of checking something off your to-do list?
As a communications professional, organizing thoughts and ideas, and keeping track of tasks and deadlines is essential in doing my job…and staying sane! Everybody has their own system or preferred method to getting their job done or keeping their life on track – for me, it all circles back to lists.
I am a huge believer in the simple, standard checklist method. In my professional life I make day-to-day checklists, a specific Open Enrollment Period checklist, and individual project request checklists. In my personal life I always make packing lists before I travel, create weekly meal plan/grocery lists and even budget or expense lists.
So why am I telling you all about my obsession with list making? Because, as people and professionals, it is essential to find what works for us to maintain some sort of organization and handle everything on our plate. We’re all human, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or let some things get lost in the shuffle, but it’s much easier to stay on track with a trusted go-to method. It can be a simple as a checklist or as complex as your own software.
Whatever it is, it should give you the opportunity to step back and gather your thoughts, and provide something to refer to and keep you accountable. Just like you wouldn’t leave for a cross-country road trip without directions, don’t let yourself get lost in your professional or personal life – map things out so you don’t get overwhelmed and give things an order so you can prioritize effectively.
But there are pros and cons to every approach. Be careful – don’t get hasty with those little check marks. Before you know it, you may have lists for your lists and they may become counter-productive. Be mindful of your strategy and ensure that it is actually helping you and not making more work for yourself.
Try out a few different things and find what works for you. And if you get stuck…just make a list!
The Trion Communications team stays pretty busy year-round, but Open Enrollment is a whole different story – and if you’re reading a blog post about Open Enrollment, chances are you know what I mean. One of my favorite analogies aptly fits the overdrive that kicks in at this time of year: it’s like the difference between throwing a bullet, and shooting it.
This is my third full-fledged OE season in the benefits communication world. Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies that work really well for me to keep a grasp on at least a few tattered shreds of sanity during this insane time of year.
There’s (almost) never a reason to panic. I only learned this the hard way, but a few gray hairs later, I’ve come to realize that there is some equitable solution out there to whatever crisis is facing you. Are you being asked to do something that you’ve never done before? Talk to your colleagues; they may have faced a similar situation or can recommend a resource to help. And if a mistake happens, which it does when we’re moving 500 miles an hour in the thick of OE, be honest and do what you can to make it right. Even if there is no real fix, your sincerity and effort can go a long way to smoothing things over.
Stay organized. There’s a lot going on during OE. For me, it’s keeping on top of multiple deliverables for multiple clients. This year I purchased a really nice personal organizer for myself. I splurged a little on one I really liked, to up the odds that I’d actually use it regularly – and it worked! I’ve got one place to keep track of everything – deliverables, client meetings, to-do lists and more. It just takes a quick peek to re-ground myself in what my priorities are on any given day.
Be mindful. Perhaps the thing I struggle with the most during this time of year is just being able to shut it off. While my workload can put a strain on my non-work life (case in point, I’m writing this blog on a Saturday night), I do have time to focus on the other things in my life. The problem is, I waste those times worrying about the work, instead of giving my attention to the things that matter to me most. To help keep me present in the moment (instead of being mentally at work even when I’m not working), I keep to two rules from late July through early November.
- First, my Friday nights are my own. Even if I stay at the office late, once I’m home on Friday, the laptop stays closed. If I don’t expect myself to work, I won’t feel guilty when I take one night to step away completely.
- Second, I make a point to indulge in some serious stress relief by getting a massage regularly. It really helps me clear my head, decompress, and gives me something to look forward to during the week – not to mention working out the kinks from all those extra hours sitting at my desk.
It makes this season a little easier knowing I have strategies to handle whatever curveball OE throws my way. These are the things that work well for me, but everyone is different. Find the things that help you keep a lid on the crazy, and remind yourself of them regularly. Good luck!