Do I still belong here? The world seems to have changed and I'm not quite sure if I fit here or if I should be looking somewhere else. What are my priorities? Am I ready for a change?
In the aftermath of the pandemic, these are now common thoughts of employees, even those with long tenures or coveted roles. It is more important than ever to help individual workers see that they belong, to understand how they fit today and how they are valued, and to paint a picture of opportunity and a future which they can influence both during and after the pandemic.
The following timeless communication strategies can help create this sense of value, shared purpose and future potential:
Tone, style and culture are critical to making a real connection. When communicating with employees, tailor your message to meet different groups of people where they are — individual contributors or those in a management track, corporate office or field staff, highly compensated or entry-level positions. Whenever possible, use personalized messaging to cut out noise and focus on issues that impact the individual the most.
In the last year, some employees have made sacrifices and upended schedules to support family. Some may have been furloughed, worked through massive life changes or settled into new routines. As they recover from living through a global pandemic, the notion of yet more change and waiting for “what’s next” becomes a daunting prospect. Capture this moment; empathize. Create a sense of togetherness and connection and shared experiences.
A skills-gap assessment and formal learning curriculum are great tools, but the real challenge is reinforcing the underlying message: “you are a valued employee, your contributions are important to the organization and you have opportunity for growth.” The overarching career framework can seem too big to break down in a meaningful way. However, through personalization, communication may focus on a path within the individual employee’s job family to illustrate something that feels readily achievable and highlights new opportunities across career bands and even levels. Remember that some employees are quite happy where they are and don't need to be pushed, so celebrate who they are and the value of the role they have today. Above all, create a sense of shared purpose, alignment with the mission as part of something special, the shared bright future as part of the team.
Consumer marketing is about reinforcing relevant messages to the right audiences, and many of the same strategies can be effective in employee communication. They even have a name for it: the marketing rule of seven. Plan a number of touchpoints for each group of employees so that no one gets inundated. Employ various communication channels to reach different employee groups and make sure the length of the communication is consumable. Equip managers with the same talking points to create consistency and support the culture. Use a combination of data such as tenure, career level, and demographic data to create effective personalized and don't settle for broad-spectrum communication.
These four steps, when employed together, can help create a powerful campaign to reinforce the employee value proposition, including career framework and future career paths. The fundamentals of employee experience are purpose, work, people and rewards. Transforming your organizational mindset will bring the biggest gains in inspiration, drive, growth and trust. As with any campaign, gather insights from leaders and line workers as you go to measure the success of your campaign and understand what those moments that matter really are. Spend time planning and be as personal and authentic as you can, making sure to leverage technology that gets the right messages to the right audiences and creates a valued sense of shared belonging and future potential.