What Effective Employee Communications Looks Like for Today’s Hybrid Workforce
— June 21st, 2021
There are five billion workers worldwide—and three billion of them are deskless. Since COVID-19 caused a shift in the way we work, many of the desk-based workers are now working remotely and have limited access to the office. Business leaders are challenged with finding a way to easily communicate with every worker, regardless of whether they’re working from home, in the office, on the factory floor, on the frontlines, or anywhere in between. Adding to the challenges caused by the pandemic, Millennials and Gen Z now make up more of the workforce than other generation, and having grown up in a digital world, they communicate differently—and expect their companies to meet those expectations. For businesses to attract new talent, reduce turnover, and gain a competitive edge, they must adapt their communications strategies to accommodate the needs of younger generations, on top of adapting to the challenges caused by the shift to a hybrid workforce.
Let's talk about what effective communication looks like today—during the pandemic and in the broader moment, where Millennials and Gen Z are impacting the workforce.
Digital Transformation is Necessary When Communicating to the Modern Workforce
For years, digital transformation has been a buzzword among HR and IT leaders. As the makeup of the workforce shifts towards younger generations that grew up with technology at their fingertips, companies realized that they need to have more modern offices and a greater focus on employee experience in order to attract new talent. But it can be challenging to convince business leaders that digital transformation is necessary, and adopting new technology is often deprioritized in favor of other goals. Then COVID happened, and it changed everything. Overnight, millions of employees were sent to work remotely, and a dispersed, digital workforce became the new reality.
Adopting digital solutions has become a critical part of communicating with a remote workforce, furloughed employees, and workers on the frontlines. Businesses have to build a communications strategy that is designed with the modern workforce in mind. This means creating the digital experiences that younger generations expect, while being able to rapidly communicate with a largely remote workforce, keeping them engaged. The question switched from “should we digitally transform” to “how fast can we make this happen,” completely reframing the conversation. Business leaders realized that to effectively communicate with and engage a remote or deskless workforce, digital transformation is necessary. And that realization came early in the pandemic. Luckily, digital transformation is also necessary to enable the future of work—something that businesses are proactively shaping.
Effectively Communicating with a Dispersed Workforce
It’s critical for business leaders to be able to reach their entire workforce with a single source of truth, regardless of where they’re located or what their role is. Not all employees prefer to digest information in the same way, at the same time, or in the same place—but they do need to consume the same information to ensure they’re all aligned behind business goals. In order to reach your entire workforce, you need to have a data-driven understanding of who is engaging with your content, what type of content they’re engaging with, and what channel of communication is the most effective for each type of worker. For some employees, this means sending them personalized daily emails with the information that’s relevant for them. For others, this may mean displaying key messaging on digital signs throughout the workplace, or sending push notifications to their mobile devices when something is pertinent to them. There’s no right answer when it comes to the proper mode of communication—every employee functions differently, and both the modality and the information should be targeted for the needs of the individual. But one thing is clear—more than one communications channel is necessary. By connecting employees to the information they need in the way that they prefer to be communicated to, you’ll not only help keep employees connected and engaged regardless of where they’re working, but you’ll also ensure that your entire organization is united around the same objectives. And by measuring the effectiveness of employee communications with data, you’ll be able learn what is and isn’t working, and how you can improve the way you communicate. This is where a unified, omnichannel communications strategy comes into play.
Optimizing Communications with Fewer Resources
A true omnichannel approach to communications means being able to publish any type of content, from any application, to any endpoint, all from a single platform. This allows you to share a single message with a targeted group of individuals via the channel that works best for each of them—whether that’s email, mobile, or digital signage—and gain a data-driven understanding of whether or not employees are actually engaging with the content that they’re consuming. With an omnichannel communications platform, you’ll not only be able to better reach every worker using less resources, but you’ll have the ability to constantly iterate on your communications strategy until you find the balance of employee groups, communications channels, and content that is the most effective for your organization. The right platform shouldn’t create more work for the communications team—instead, it should optimize the work that they’ve already been doing and make it easier to communicate as your organization expands.
We’ve learned in the last year that change is inevitable. The modern workplace looks different than it did 20 years ago, one year ago, or even six months ago—and it will continue to transform. It’s critical to be prepared for future change, and a key part of this is having the communications infrastructure in place to keep employees informed, engaged, and connected, no matter what the future brings. As the world shifts towards a hybrid, flexible working model, the only way to ensure that you’re reaching every worker is to meet them where they’re at—and the key to doing this is using an omnichannel approach to communicate with workers.