Employee Comms

Is it OK to shout it from the rooftops? Engage 2019 was a huge success – and here’s why!


 — May 29th, 2019

Is it OK to shout it from the rooftops? Engage 2019 was a huge success – and here’s why!

(Main photograph: Ryan McCarty in full flow at Engage 2019, Boston)

We've been getting tremendously enthusiastic feedback from Engage 2019, our annual Poppulo conference, which was held over two days for the first time in beautiful Boston.

Two brilliant days of insights, vision, innovation - and, of course, great conversation - in the company of leading internal communicators.

Topics covered included:

  • Strategic and tactical measures to elevate the IC function
  • How to understand your people data to achieve greater engagement
  • From CX to EX: What the research is telling us
  • Build a vibrant culture by engaging the hearts and minds of employees
  • How to provide leadership through communications in a time of change
  • The multi-generational workforce: It’s not all that it seems

Day 1 was the Customer Day Pre-Conference, where members of our team held hands-on sessions on how to optimize data and design through Poppulo to transform employee communications.

Day 2 was packed with invaluable insights on the biggest issues facing IC from Poppulo customers: McDonald’s, Cargill, CDK Global, Booz Allen Hamilton, Equifax, Encompass Health and UPMC.

I've selected a few of the top takeaways noted in tweets (#Engage2019) from throughout the day -- and added my two cents.

Donald Jones from Booz/Allen/Hamilton - his firm restructured communications around a 'data-driven' strategy. After getting governance and structure in place for internal communications, they are now building on success by folding in further data opportunities, such as integrating Workday with Poppulo's cross channel analytics - to supercharge their content targeting by audience. They also plan to use data from A/B testing of subject lines to increase open rates.

Take away: Start with data; rinse and repeat.

John Alderman, from Equifax, shared his vast experience in crisis communications, gained from his time in the army through to numerous corporations, such as Equifax. John shared a tip he learned from his military days: don't make decisions in isolation, have a communications buddy system in which you can work in tandem to move smoothly through quick-decision-making times.

Take away: Develop a buddy system to sense-check decisions during crisis situations.

Alyssa Hagan from Encompass Health shared how they successfully increased engagement with a large audience of non-desk workers: nurses. The 'Powered by Nurses' campaign featured two key elements: a multi-channel approach, and a focus on enhancing leadership communications within local hospitals.

A Leadership Tool Kit was created and distributed; it provided local leaders with tips and insight into how they could better communicate and engage their local teams. The multi-channel approach - email, employee app, and social media was used to ensure all employees received the content they needed. The final prong of this successful approach was the ability to measure and gain insight into what was working and connecting with their audience, so they could continue to build on their successes.

Take away: A key element in increasing engagement in the dispersed workforces at organizations is the leadership. Ensure they are communicating effectively.

When Sian Cargan from CDK Global started there wasn't a formal employee communication process in place. She took a cue from the IT department and used an agile methodology. She took a "Start small, aim high and iterate" approach to the huge challenge of building IC from the ground up. Try something, see what works, and change what doesn't work. Once the email channel was streamlined, structured and in place - Sian then focussed on bringing in and launching the Poppulo Mobile app.

Take away: Don't tackle your communications infrastructure all at once - take it channel by channel.

Emily McNichols from McDonald's US shared some video measurement - and it certainly provided valuable insight that went against the idea that shorter is always better when it comes to what your audiences will watch. Even busy franchise owners - the internal audience McDonald's needed to reach. McDonald's US found that 7-8 minute videos were often very successful - with 80% or more watching entire clips of the video. The success was based on the content (no surprise), such as the unveiling of important news, or a wrap-up of notes from an important meeting they weren't able to attend.

Take away: Don't presume that only certain length videos work - try out different lengths in your own organization.

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Luz Betancourt from UPMC showed that a daily email newsletter at a very large organization can be exactly the right frequency. After conducting an audit to understand the vast number of communications that were being sent they recognized that a single newsletter that used data to target content would reduce clutter and increase relevancy. Each employee now receives daily news of their Business Unit, as well as news that gives them a view across the organization.

Take away: Daily communications CAN work - if it is relevant, personalized to the recipient - and helps them do their job.

I agree with this tweeter -- these represent the framework for implementing change within employee communications:

  • Set boundaries - setting governance in what employee communications could be sent, by what departments and by what frequency.
  • Listen to the workforce as part of audits, it is essential to understand what employees DO want to hear from their organization - and in what format and what channel is best for their needs.
  • Create processes/tools - Get organized, get procedures in place, including content calendars, branded templates and aligned thinking on team levels. Use state-of-the-art technology to create the highest quality communications that employees have come to expect, and provides you with the ability to use data and access measurement to refine and target your communications.
  • Use data to drive decisions Having access to data is no longer a nice to have - it has been essential to the success of every single customer speaker. It includes using data available in the organization, data gathered from campaigns that provide actionable insights to share with teams (for improving comms) and with stakeholders to prove value to the organization.
  • Make it relevant - Aim to get the right information to the right person at the right time.

And finally, @amyneil sums up the impact of keynote speaker Ryan McCarty....

Here's to Engage 2020. Looking forward to it already!

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