Experts predict that the staffing industry will bring in a record $185.5 billion in revenue in 2022. That’s because many companies are finally learning that people are one of the most important assets in a business.
Investing in attracting and hiring the best talent makes sense, but recruitment is only half the battle. To maximize the benefits of your recruiting efforts, you need to create a work environment where your team members feel connected, energized, and motivated.
Highly engaged organizations have been found to benefit from a 23% increase in profitability due to improved retention, customer ratings and sales.
Operating with a solid communication strategy is the key to building a culture of engagement where you retain employees instead of fighting turnover.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can achieve that. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Why communication is the key to employee engagement
The Harvard Business Review describes an engaged employee as someone who’s committed to their employer and identifies with their organization, has job satisfaction, and feels energized while at work.
For human resource or communications leaders, this creates two primary objectives to improve employee engagement: creating a positive relationship between employee and employer, and enabling job satisfaction.
Internal communications is essential for creating that positive relationship since it fosters trust and keeps leadership better informed about the employee experience. As for job satisfaction, communication is a valuable tool that can reinforce positive work experiences.
When employees are well-informed, they’re better engaged with the business, and this leads to all kinds of positive business outcomes.
Communication builds trust
According to a 2020 Brunel University London study, internal communications strategies such as open communication channels, information sharing, and consistent feedback result in higher co-worker trust and more engagement at work.
Communication informs leadership
Good communication works in both directions. It helps leadership convey values and big-picture goals and enables employees to share their opinions, concerns, and questions with decision-makers.
Too often, employees feel that company leadership is out of touch with the needs and priorities of the workforce. Internal communication in the form of two-way conversations bridges that gap and enables leaders to make better-informed decisions about matters that affect their teams.
Likewise, when employees can see proof that leadership receives their feedback and acts on it, this encourages them to speak up more.
Communication makes people feel valued
A report by McKinsey found that 54% of employees that left their jobs didn’t feel valued at work and 51% lacked a sense of belonging.
You may value all your employees highly, but if you don’t communicate it, it will be difficult to keep employee retention numbers up.
Creating initiatives that increase recognition helps your employees feel valued. You can also use internal communications to share the company’s vision and help employees understand where they belong in the big picture.
Communication improves efficiency
In competitive rowing, there’s a person on the team known as the coxswain (or “cox”) who communicates orders to the rest of the team to keep them motivated and working together.
It’s the same in the workplace. Keeping your employees informed and aligned enables them to do their jobs well. And when people feel empowered to do their jobs, satisfaction, energy, and motivation all increase.
Frontline focus: the increased importance of communication in frontline organizations
Creating a sense of belonging and supporting employee engagement is especially important when you have a frontline (or ‘deskless’) workforce.
However, there are also more challenges to overcome when employees are spread out at various locations, don’t have frequent or formal in-person interactions with management, and are heavily reliant on paper documentation.
Yoobic’s 2022 Frontline Employee Survey illuminates some gaps that can lead to a lack of trust and engagement.
Although 83% of frontline employees want a workplace they can believe in and trust, only 45% believe management cares about their mental health. Another 81% say they want to feel valued by management, but only 38% feel connected to management and headquarters.
To make matters even more challenging, most frontline workers don’t have access to a work email or central communications platform where they can feel connected.
Many workplace communications solutions were built for desk-based office workers, and aren’t convenient for the needs of frontline staff, leaving them feeling even more distant.
This creates a knowledge gap for frontline organizations where management isn’t fully aware of what’s happening on the frontline and is, therefore, unable to connect with and make the right decisions for its employees.
Communication strategies to improve employee engagement
By implementing these five effective communication strategies, you can energize your workforce — whether they’re remote workers, on the frontline, or in the office.
Ultimately, these strategies will help you build a sense of community where employees feel free to share their opinions and ideas and foster relationships based on meaning and growth.
1. Implement transparency and visibility from the top down
Workplace trust works best when it’s implemented from the top down. A 2022 survey by People Element highlighted significant areas for improvement in communication from leadership.
Specifically, it found that:
- 44% of employees don’t think there’s sufficient communication from senior leadership
- 40% say that leadership doesn’t communicate a clear vision of the future
- 39% still feel that leadership doesn’t value employees
Without clear and transparent communication from leadership, it’s easy for employees to feel uninformed about the decisions that impact them and disengage from the workplace.
Similarly, as a senior leader, you may get trapped in an “optimism bubble” when it comes to communication. In other words, you might overestimate your approachability, listening, and communication skills and underestimate how much your title and position make it hard for some employees to communicate with you.
If you want to build a more connected organization, leadership visibility and approachability need to be part of your engagement strategy.
Ensure management is communicating regularly, with purpose and opening up a two-way conversation as a result. Avoid sending “faceless” announcements and memos. Instead, have individual leaders sign their names on important messages. Take simple steps like adding photos of leadership next to their email signatures, so there’s more of a human element to their communication.
2. Encourage two-way communication and listen
Open and honest two-way communication sounds simple, but it doesn’t happen automatically. You have to build communication processes that facilitate employee feedback and then prove that you’re listening.
Start by giving your employees a few different channels to provide feedback to higher-ups. This creates more accessibility and lets people choose the communication method they feel most comfortable with.
It’s important to go beyond the annual survey. Unstructured feedback in the form of multidirectional dialogue has huge potential as it provides insights into ideation, opinions, and concerns that let you capture your employees’ inner voices.
When you have a better grasp of your employees’ voice, you can feed that into the messages you put out and integrate it into your strategies, objectives, values, and the company mission.
Your employees’ ideas and opinions are excellent resources, but if you don’t provide space for free dialogue, you’re leaving that gold mine completely untapped.
Once you have your feedback channels, make sure to actively promote them and send confirmation every time you receive communications. If employees feel that their words have disappeared into thin air, they won’t be encouraged to continue providing information.
3. Centralize your communication technology
Technology is an excellent way to make your communications accessible to everyone. But too many communication tools and platforms can make it harder for employees to stay engaged.
Nadir Ali, CEO of Inpixon, explains that people at large companies may have “10 or more work-related apps, each with a different interface and operating characteristics.” This means that even figuring out the right app to use becomes a challenge.
Instead, you can use an employee app like Blink, which gives your employees access to the people, processes, communications, and applications they need for their jobs.
Blink was designed for the needs of frontline workers and offers a unique and simple user experience across corporate or personal devices. Desk workers or management can access the app on a computer, while frontline and remote employees can find all the same information on a tablet or mobile device.
With one central platform at the core of your communications, you can create more accessibility without adding complexity or sacrificing consistency. This will make your employees’ lives easier, save them a huge amount of time, and leave them more capacity to do their “real jobs,” all of which will result in their engagement and loyalty in return.
4. Create community through recognition, support, and inclusion
Effective internal communication builds community. You can do that by using recognition, providing support, and supporting inclusion.
Recognition isn’t just about celebrating good work and achievements. It’s also about showing empathy and letting employees know you understand and appreciate the challenges they face at work.
In other words, be explicit about appreciation and supporting employee mental health. Demonstrating that you consider your employees’ well-being is a key factor for engagement.
This is especially important for frontline workers who often bear the burden of implementing organizational change at the customer level and may feel less connected to headquarters because they’re not working out of a central office.
It’s also crucial for leaders to ensure that the culture of support applies to all employees. In recent years, we’ve seen organizations prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the hiring process, but it shouldn’t stop there.
Employees with different backgrounds and life experiences need to be supported, encouraged, and made to feel a part of the broader community to stay engaged and reach their full potential. Your internal communications can support this by creating employee resource groups that help people find their “tribe” at work and provide a safe and secure environment where DE&I issues can be discussed.
Ultimately, recognition and community building work best when they’re ingrained into the company culture.
One of the best ways to make recognition a regular practice (instead of an occasional one) is by attaching it to existing processes. Look at the communications you regularly send out and see where you can add messaging that celebrates wins and acknowledges current challenges.
5. Use messaging to inspire and energize
As companies continue to deal with the effects of the great resignation and more recently “quiet quitting”, leaders have to figure out how to mobilize and motivate workforces dealing with burnout. Every communications initiative is an opportunity to energize your employees and create a more engaged workforce.
Internal communications can be boring if you’re not thinking about your messaging. Instead of falling into the trap of simply spewing information, craft messaging that inspires your workforce.
Implement useful and engaging communications that help employees visualize a common goal to strive for, and invite them to help you craft that future. In other words, remember that while your employees need communications that answer “what,” “where,” and “how,” they also need a “why” that keeps them going.
In addition to providing your employees with the services and tools that fit into their busy days and help them do their jobs, make sure you are using that space to invite engagement with content that makes teams gravitate towards that space naturally.
To do this, you can unleash user-generated content such as on-the-job stories, celebrations of small wins, and peer recognition. Authentic content generated by your employees is still the best employee branding available. When employees are given the freedom to talk about their work, they feel seen and heard, and they keep the conversation and engagement going.
Final thoughts: communication strategies to boost engagement in the workplace
Many companies are still figuring out how to bring energy back into the workplace while dealing with employee burnout to avoid attrition.
What you need to know is that your communication plan is one of the best tools you have to re-engage your workforce. With the right initiatives in place, you can build trust, make your employees feel valued, and make sure leadership has the information they need to create a better workplace.
Blink’s frontline engagement app facilitates these strategies that improve two-way conversations between employees and leadership and creates a space which invites sustainable and organic engagement.
Get your free demo today to find out more.