Q&A from The Great Resignation: Time to Rip Up the Comms Playbook
— February 9th, 2022
My recent FWI | Poppulo webinar —The Great Resignation: Time to Rip Up the Comms Playbook — certainly seems to have struck a chord with many people.
The huge interest in the webinar itself and the large volume of questions from the 1,614 registrants highlights not only the pivotal role of comms in organizations today, but how its reach and impact has evolved way beyond a sometimes traditionally narrow sphere of influence.
Today, it’s inarguable that workplace communication is business-critical and can help define the all-important employee experience. But we’ve got to bin old comms thinking and leaders need urgently to view internal communications as an enterprise-wide priority, and not something that can be neatly boxed off in a silo.
We were able to get to some of the questions asked by registrants during the webinar but we simply didn’t have enough time to answer others.
How to Beat the Great Attrition Through Communication and Alignment
So, here I answer a selection of questions that reflect some of the most widely raised issues:
Q1: How do you show employees they’re of value in ways other than salary increases?
Never assume what feeling valued means — this is where McKinsey’s report shows the growing disconnect between leaders and employees — you have to ask your employees what would make them feel valued.
Never underestimate the seemingly ‘little’ things either — asking for their input or opinion AND implementing their ideas, shows they’re valued.
Giving praise, saying ‘Thank You’ and ‘Well Done’ — it doesn’t have to be a big public announcement. It’s more about creating a culture where managers and colleagues look out for the impact and positive differences people have made and show their appreciation personally.
Q 2: How do you avoid survey fatigue, what others tools would you suggest? We’ve asked people for their input so much over the years, how can we still get their input?
People will be much more likely to do something, including completing a survey, if they know what’s in it for them and they believe, or know, that action will be taken or a positive outcome will arise from doing so.
I believe that survey fatigue exists because surveys have been over-used to gather data without:
a) Having a clear purpose
b) Being mindful of those required to complete the survey and tailoring it accordingly, and
c) Employees not knowing what’s changed as a result of their feedback in previous surveys. Perhaps they were never told, didn’t join the dots up themselves or no action was taken.
I think we can be honest with our employees, explain that previously we’ve not got it (use of surveys) right, but create a real call-to-action and a desire to contribute in order to make this a great place to work.
Maybe trial a new way of surveying with a subset of your people, a department or region for example, and use them to showcase your new intentions.
Of course, surveys are not the only tool to gather employee input or feedback, there are polls, online discussion forums, focus groups, 1:1 interviews, leader Q&A sessions.
Think about incorporating it into another event like a town hall. Use vision boards workshops, suggestion boxes (actual or online), survey terminals. Get creative and make it more fun, for you and everyone else.
And don’t forget to give people feedback to show their opinion really does count and change happened, e.g. ‘You said …, so we did …’, so employees build trust in their views making a difference.
It's amazing how common it is for organizations to take on board feedback and suggestions from employees and implement changes as a result, but then neglect to let them know about it — missing out on a golden opportunity to prove that employee voices are valued and that leaders and management actually listen to them!
Q 3: How do you balance the desire for personalized employee information with the capacity limits of a small IC team, in tandem with the frequent feedback that there are too many sources of information and it's overwhelming for people?
It’s all about working smarter by understanding how your employees want to receive information and communications (ask them and gather behavioral data and analytics) and then ensure you’re using the channels of choice that have the greatest impact (which might be different for different job roles, functions, location, etc.).
The same applies to content — take note of what gets the highest engagement. Working smarter also means being really clear on your key messaging and repurposing content, so you’re not starting from a blank slate every time.
A town hall can also be recorded, bitesize videos can be shared, as can the slides, a transcript can be created which can be turned into blogs, quotes, an intranet article — all reinforcing the same messaging but in different ways and in varying media formats.
That way, one event can more efficiently create so much useful content and appeal to the diversity and diverse needs of our employee population.
Reducing overwhelm also means looking at the governance, ownership, and usage of channels — being clear, and ensuring your employees are clear, of what each channel’s purpose is, so everyone knows where to go for what information or what to expect from each channel.
How to Beat the Great Attrition Through Communication and Alignment
Q 4: With regard to measurement, what are your best practices? What is the most compelling data to share with leadership and get buy-in?
Effective measurement always begins with the end in mind, i.e. being explicitly clear on what you’re trying to achieve from your communications or change campaign.
It’s about defining your future desired outcome in terms of the change you’re aiming for and what you want your employees to know, feel, think or do. With clarity on your outcomes, only then can the right measures, analytics, and metrics be gathered.
The most compelling measurement data to share with leadership then becomes tied to your agreed outcomes, demonstrating impact, progress or realisation of the desired changes.
Of course, this approach also gives you the opportunity to monitor progress and make timely and effective interventions along the way, if things aren’t quite going to plan, thus increasing your chances of a positive outcome.
Q 5: How could leadership distinguish "constructive" feedback from employee negativity?
I think we have to start looking at the bigger picture. What are the common themes arising and what are trends over time telling us?
I also advocate using a variety of listening methods to gather data and insights from employees so that more people feel able to contribute, thus adding weight to whatever feedback is shared.