As COVID-19 spreads exponentially across the globe employees are yearning for information. They are living with uncertainty. Employers need to be agile and responsive. Communication just became significantly more important.
Today, the world cannot be more connected as it is now. E-mails, phone calls, messaging apps, video chats, social media, collaboration tools— the communication ecosystem has an arsenal of services to offer. However, employee communication persists to be a challenge. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Communication has been recognized as a critical ingredient of employee engagement and experience. While organizations are investing immensely in various tools and technologies, communication continues to break down. Here are some of the reasons why your communication may not be communicating:
Too many messages:
How many times have you struggled to receive replies from employees when you have sent an e-mail blast regarding any policy change, or any new engagement activity or getting an employee survey filled? Well, this is a universal problem across the HR function.
“How much is the right communication?”
A CHRO in an event by People Matters once mentioned, “When we analyzed, we found that we have sent 105 communication e-mails/messages within two months, without realizing the effectiveness and the reach of our communication.”
Cut through the clutter. Employees get bombarded with information. Have content that is appropriate and tailored to them and their needs.
Not enough dialogue:
You recently blocked the calendars of the departmental leaders and their respective teams for a session on the company’s new process of performance management. You prepared power-point presentations, graphs, videos etc. After delivering a 60- minute’s session, when you asked if there are any questions, none of the 100 people raised their hands.
The real agenda of communication fails when there are no questions.
Make communication interactive. Encourage people to ask questions!
The issue of employee experience is becoming increasingly critical to organizations. With most organizations that now have a workforce spanning four generations, ‘personalizing experiences’ is not sufficient. Rather than providing an experience based on data-driven insight (personalization), tailoring an experience for individual users (hyper-personalization) should be the focus area.
Hyper-personalize your communication strategy. The first lens that everyone uses to understand a message is: “What does it mean for me?”
Re-connecting with employees during work from home:
The COVID-19 has given organizations an opportunity to break the silos. The workforce is no longer restricted to the four walls of the office. With the surge of the ‘gig economy,’ and now the ongoing pandemic, remote working is not an option but a necessity.
Remote communication is often distorted - delayed messages, switching between the mute and unmute buttons, weak signals, etc. Switching to better technologies, mobile apps can help to build rapport can create empathy than a video call or a conference call. Digital technologies can help improve better employee experience, increasing collaboration, and more interaction in the meetings/discussions.
Have reliable and engaging tools. Digital technologies offer less detail, more key messages, with engaging content like creative graphics, videos, games, etc. that captures your audience details.
Creating a culture of Communication
Workplace communication is vital. Be it any stage of the employee lifecycle —onboarding, performance management, compliance, or exit. Communication is critical to talent management. As a Human Resource professional, or a manager, the value of an effective communication strategy cannot be ignored. However, a successful communication strategy cannot be delivered until an organization works towards building a culture of communication.
Getting your organization to realize its full potential starts with creating a culture that encourages robust communication to flow in both directions — a culture of communication where employees are encouraged to share ideas and ask questions.
Here are the top three ways to improve your organization’s communication culture:
- Imbibing transparency
A common mistake that management teams make is not sharing information throughout the organization. This demonstrates a lack of confidence, and, as a result, it can lead to distrust. The best way to prevent this is to practice open, transparent communication. It’s a good idea to share information throughout your organization, as it creates an environment of trust and a feeling of being in it together.
- Inter-departmental communication:
Many workplace failures stem from a lack of collaboration and poor communication. This secretive, “us versus them” mentality divides people and can lead to interdepartmental friction. When employees aren’t communicating across departments, leaders should identify this as soon as possible, and immediately put into place practices that strengthen relationships between different teams. For instance, bring together your distributed team to collaborate on projects using collaborative and social tools.
- Investing in right tools:
The easier it is for employees to share their opinions, the more often they’ll let their thoughts be known. However, the most common challenge shared by leaders is that individuals resist change and adopt technology to share their ideas, activities, and updates. Create a utility for employees. Until employees don’t find any value addition in their work, people will continue to resist sharing their thoughts.
Paradigm shift in businesses, more diverse workplaces, and increasingly tech-savvy workforce has brought an evolutionary change in the way people perceive people-related processes, performance goals, training opportunities, workplace facilities, and organizational values. Hence, the workplace ecosystem needs to move away from office memo and emails to a more digitized way of communication.
The #NewNormal for employee communication would be Digitalization.
When we talk about digital innovation, one thing which needs to be taken into account is the difference between “Digitization” and “Digitalization”
Digitization is process automation and more focused towards functional-processes. Digitalization on the other hand, is technology-driven strategies which enhance employee experience.
Digitalization does not only create engagement but it accelerates the culture of communication by providing the company with the necessary tools for collaboration, sharing knowledge, and creating a transparent and open communication culture.