Can corporate communication professionals take a page out of external marketing’s playbook to better engage employees and internal stakeholders? This questions came up at an IABC event earlier this year where many communication professionals we spoke with were examining how to leverage external marketing tools and strategies to create improved employee engagement and corporate performance.
Externally, the rise of the social web has drastically changed the way businesses interact and engage with their customers. New tools have changed the way organizations monitor their customer’s interactions and research has shown that customers who engage with companies on social media spend 20% – 40% more money on those companies than other customers.
This direct link from customer engagement to spending habits can easily be compared to employee productivity and employee engagement. Gallup stated in their 2012 Q12 Meta-Analysis Summary that organizations who effectively engage their employees can realize 21% higher productivity and 22% higher profitability than their peers.
While many organizations continue to segment internal and external marketing efforts, forward thinking corporate communication teams are working on ideas to better integrate successful external marketing strategies to create higher levels of employee engagement and bottom line performance. In working with our customers, we have heard some great ideas on how to share strategies from external marketing to more effectively engage company employees.
1. Engage, listen and respond
Instead of one-off experiences, customer engagement has become an ongoing dialogue. Likewise, in order to be effective, corporate communicators must effectively listen to employees that are already having conversations about their company through social media and other technological channels.
Develop a communication technology strategy which empowers you to effectively create social communication channels for peer-to-peer and employee-organization engagement. Listen to your employees and engage in existing conversations in a genuine way to drive lasting employee engagement.
2. Leverage a variety of communication channels
In the past, employees interacted with corporate news only during standard work hours. Now with the prevalence of mobile devices and social technologies, employees want the flexibility to interact with your corporate communications around their schedule. Develop a communication technology strategy to engage with your employees through multiple channels, across multiple devices.
According to readwrite.com, customer surveys show the majority of people use a mobile app up to 10 times a day. Find ways to engage your employees through a variety of corporate communication channels such as SharePoint, town halls, newsletters, video spotlights, social channels and mobile to give your message a better chance of being successful.
3. Create trust through your communication process
External marketing professionals know that their customer base has more access to information about their organization than ever before. In order to maintain trust in your communication process, it is critical to center on open and honest discussions, even in challenging times.
By developing forthcoming, honest and accessible corporate communications, you will benefit immediately from employee feedback while your employees will feel like their voice is being heard.
By engaging in existing conversations and developing an employee engagement strategy which centers on trust, you will quickly see your employee engagement metrics rise. A recent article by Ragan.com talks about some great ways to drive trust for your corporate communications.
4. Invite guest bloggers
External marketers know that publishing authoritative content from guest bloggers with industry credibility is a great way to build your brand. Corporate communicators can benefit equally by distributing the burden of content creation to subject matter experts within their organization.
Leverage tools that allow you to extend the content creation to a wider group, but keep the approval of such content centralized to the communication team. By diversifying the content and source of your communications, you will improve the overall quality of your communications and develop content that is relevant to your employees.
5. Measure your effectiveness
While you must establish sustainable, ongoing communications with your employees, make sure you are communicating with clear goals in mind. Whether you are working on improving engagement, working to gather fresh ideas from your employee base or deliver a tough message, make sure you understand the purpose of your communications and the definition of success.
With the technology available today, there is no reason to engage in corporate communication efforts with no measurement. Work to tie in the impact of your communication efforts with established corporate success metrics. By knowing what the outcome should be, you can more easily identify the definition of success for your communication efforts.
What do you think?
The line between customers and employees is ever blurring which, when embraced, can be a very positive dynamic for communication professionals. While not all external marketing technology tools directly apply for corporate communications today, the industry is trending in the right direction.
We have learned a great deal since the launch of our ElevatePoint products and continue to develop tools to help organizations plan, communicate and measure their corporate communication and employee engagement strategies.
What strategies are you adopting to improve employee engagement?