How to Shape Your Digital Communications to Improve Employee Engagement
— November 17th, 2021
Meaningful purpose is at the heart of employee engagement, and digital communications should run through the veins
There is no better time than today to talk about purpose. What makes us move forward? What builds on our resilience? According to Deloitte, people want to work for companies that share their same values, and are focused on the ‘greater good of society’.
It is also said that employees need to be able to connect the company’s purpose to their daily jobs.
This requires a considerable effort from top management, who should rely on internal communications to create timely and relevant content for their employees.
This is where your digital communications play a huge part, especially after proving their value amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Precisely, in March 2020, the world dramatically changed. Far from recovering, we are still adjusting to this new reality. Back then, when we were dealing with the unknown, companies faced a challenge beyond the job description.
At the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF), we took on the responsibility of guiding people through a crisis with both professional and personal implications.
We had to rethink our strategy — fast — to prevent silos, keep all teams aligned and connected, and avoid setbacks in the corporate culture.
A strategy based on proximity, interaction, and empathy. In other words, a strategy based on human connections... despite social distancing. In this endeavor, digital channels turned out to be not only essential but also very effective.
These are a few lessons we learned back then and are consolidating today:
1. Online meetings? Sure. But keep them short, relevant, and interactive.
Who said video calls are a waste of time? We, communication specialists, know by heart that while the channel is only a means, content is always King.
Keeping that in mind, online meetings should happen under three conditions: timeliness, relevance, and interaction.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we set weekly meetings with all employees and the CEO, to get an update on the situation with our clients and the microfinance institutions we run. Most importantly, we created the space for people to ask questions and get immediate answers from top management.
For us, COVID-19 opened the door to a new level of proximity among employees across the company and it set a standard. People became more involved, and showed interest in how they could contribute more and better to the organization’s purpose, as they had more information to act upon.
Today, as we work in a hybrid format, we still book a slot from time to time for teams to present projects and receive feedback. What was once an article on the corporate website or a section in an internal newsletter, is now a virtual space to meet, discuss and share ideas across teams.
2. Change the narrative and adapt it to the channel. Engage employees and clients in internal communications.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good story. It may not come as a surprise, but more human communication starts with relatable stories that can engage employees. Look for inspiring examples among teams or clients that materialize the corporate purpose and values.
Once you have identified them, make them protagonists. Allow them to tell their own story in their own words. Set the scene, but then leave it to them. Video, podcasts, pictures, written testimonials… mix and match different formats to increase effectiveness and tell the whole story.
Just make sure to remain consistent, adapting the language to a more simple and clear one, which will create stronger and more memorable connections.
At the BBVAMF, our purpose is the sustainable development of people under vulnerable conditions. During the worst times of the pandemic, we contacted some of the people we serve, as well as our front line employees to make sure the whole company had visibility on the new reality we were dealing with, and the efforts of the teams working closer to the purpose (i.e. to our microfinance institutions’ clients). We then created multimedia pieces to create emotional yet inspiring bonds.
And this is central to our internal communications in order to bring closer different realities and drive empathy. Not only with our clients but also among teams, who share their motivations, struggles, and their resilience, inspiring others to follow or act on it.
This is even more relevant as teams are physically dispersed, and as the boundaries between the personal and professional spaces are blurrier than ever.
3. Unleash employees’ potential as brand ambassadors. Leverage synergies between internal and external communications.
As we transition to a more human communication, we empower employees and give them more visibility. This encourages them to share content with their personal and professional network, amplifying the voice of the organization outside the corporate channels.
Needless to say, one of the highest expressions of employee engagement is when they start a conversation on their contribution to the organization’s purpose.
Another effect of putting people at the center of the narrative, which has also a direct impact on the matter discussed just now, is that organizations can identify and boost hidden talent.
As events have proliferated with digital communications, the company can benefit from a higher brand presence across international events with more diverse spokespeople.
The world today requires digital communication but also humanized communication, to not only beat social distancing or distance alone, but also to exemplify, to inspire, and to spark action in a consistent way across all locations.
Both concepts are far from being opposite, and combining them can become a game-changer for employee engagement. Undoubtedly, there is no better time than today to talk about purpose.
Just make sure to keep the conversation relevant for those who drive the company forward.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash