By Julia Christoph, Senior Consultant, Brand & Talent, Germany, MSLGROUP. This article was first published in the People’s Insights magazine The Future of Employee (Re)Engagement, and is re-published below.
It is crucial that companies constantly engage and motivate their employees. Why? Because the effect that disengaged employees have on a company’s success is tremendous. According to the Gallup Employee Engagement Survey 2013, disengaged employees caused an annual loss in productivity worth $300 billion in the US alone.
Indeed, the topic is gaining importance. 3 global trends will force employers to pay more attention to employee engagement and thus, to their Internal Reputation Management.
In today’s “Always-on-Society” the dividing lines between external and internal perspectives of a company are becoming blurred. Social Media channels have made it easy – and very tempting – to share information or opinions with external audiences, and vice versa, to seek insights from current employees. Companies must make sure their communications are transparent, authentic and congruent in both directions.
A job applicant, for example, will probably check a company’s reputation on Glassdoor.com before applying. And, an employee, who learns on Facebook that jobs are going be cut in his or her company, is very likely to lose faith in the employer.
Don’t forget: People trust people. What we learn through word-of-mouth communication has a much stronger impact than what the communications departments want us to believe.
2. Constant change
Change projects have become a regular part of our daily business. Nowadays we encounter them more frequently than we did only a few years ago. The world seems to spin more quickly and it’s only natural that our work has to adapt to that.
But: About 70 per cent of change projects fail because the staff does not buy in to them. Let’s not even think about the money of those failed projects going down the drain.
Quite often, the reason for the failure of a change project lies in the lack of transparent and engaging communication. In their report Employee Engagement: What’s your Engagement Ratio, Gallup claims:
“Within the best performing organizations there is a cultural alignment between the employees and the company, paired with a strategic alignment between activities and company goals.”
Bottom line: Successful change projects simply have to be understood.
3. Global village
Last but not least, it’s the intercultural set-up that forces companies to pay more attention to their internal reputation and employee engagement. Quite frankly, it’s easier to generate an efficient and streamlined working environment if your company is based in only one country. However, if your activities stretch across continents, intercultural factors come into play, making it more difficult to draw a coherent picture of your corporate identity.
So, what to do?
- Raise awareness and share responsibility
Make sure everyone involved in the topic is well aware of its importance. HR, Internal & External Communications as well as the management are the main actors.
- Stop sending messages from A to B
Foster a culture of dialogue and collaboration. Involve your audiences.
- Practice yourself in creative storytelling
Your communication needs to grab the attention of the recipients. What you say needs to be easily understood.
- Be clear
Transparency and authenticity are key.
- Share values
Whatever you do should be done for a good reason. Only if you highlight your work’s greater purpose or higher meaning for society, will your employees truly engage.