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Communication Tools for Employee Engagement

Michael Sampson
9/23/20 7:05 PM

Not knowing what’s going on leads to confusion, double guessing, and feelings of alienation and isolation. It’s true in all spheres of life – including at work – where employees left in the dark due to poor communication lose interest, start looking around for better job opportunities, and do only the minimum required to not get fired in the meantime. 

Employee engagement plummets as the “I don’t know what’s going on” employee trends toward being actively disengaged. The sense of feeling “valued and involved” – which is the strongest driver of employee engagement – is diminished without effective communication. 

Communication tools for employee engagement

Cultivating effective communication is important at the best of times, and 2020 so far has been anything but. The COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated many of the normal “communication tools” we rely on for engaging with employees. Meeting rooms for face-to-face team meetings are off-limits since office buildings have been abandoned. Large spaces for wider group meetings or town hall sessions are closed. The ability to drop by someone’s desk for a quick interaction isn’t possible when everyone’s working from home. And even the ability to head to the nearest coffee shop has become riddled with health threats. 

A lack of normalcy has resulted in a massive dislocation for employees and impaired working abilities, none of which contribute positively to employee engagement. This is why communication tools for employee engagement are crucial for success. 

Digital Communication Tools for Employee Engagement

Alison Davis, CEO and Founder of the Davis & Co. strategic internal communications consultancy firm, says that “employee engagement simply can’t be achieved without robust communication.” Although the complementary move to digital communication tools for employee engagement was well underway before COVID-19 hit, now they’ve become mission critical. To mess around with Alison’s phrase, you ‘simply can’t achieve the robust communication essential for employee engagement without them.’ 

Communication Tools in Digital Workplace Solutions

Robust communication relies on having the right communication tools available for different types of communication activities. If a builder can’t solely rely on a hammer for constructing a home, communicators of all stripes can’t solely rely on a blog for information and engagement (for example). 

A digital workplace solution offers a range of communication tools for employee engagement within an integrated and holistic framework. 

5 Communication Benefits of Digital Workplace Solutions 

Digital workplace solutions are a key communication tool for employee engagement. Here are 5 benefits we see. 

1. Multiple Communication Channels 

A digital workplace solution offers a curated collection of communication tools for different types of employee engagement. 

Communications aimed at large groupings of employees – from the organization as a whole, or only a division or business unit – can, for example, be broadcasted through live town hall events (including an option for replaying a recording), or published in the corporate news area (with audience targeting and notification settings). 

Communications for smaller grouping of employees – a given team, a specific project, or a single department – can be shared through a collaboration workspace, team news area, or an online community of practice. 

The different communication tools address different communication needs, but there’s a common identity model, search engine, and notification setting that, in combination, support both search-based and serendipitous discoveries.

2. More Than One-Way Push Communication

Communication tools that are one-way only broadcast messages in the hope of connecting with their recipients, but real communication requires more than being talked at relentlessly.

Digital workplace solutions support different modes of two-way communication, from commenting on blog posts to sharing options for wider distribution and sentiment analysis of aggregated likes. Commenting enables employees to share their viewpoint, ask questions for clarification, and offer ideas on decisions, all of which enable the expression of value and provide opportunities for being involved. 

With about a third of employees saying they have to wait more than 3 months to get feedback from their manager (which is a demoralizing timeframe in today’s world), expanding the breadth of communication and feedback offers something of a counter-balancing effect.

3. Direct Lines of Communication

Whatever language you speak in, any message passed from person-to-person down a line is going to end up very different from what the first person in line actually said. The adage about hearing a message “straight from the horse’s mouth” – with no offence meant to horses or humans – results in high message clarity, particularly if there are open feedback options available. 

Digital workplace solutions offer communication tools to create direct lines of communication from senior leaders to everyone in the firm. The CEO can have her own blog for talking about current events, updating employees on strategic direction, and addressing marketplace or internal problems. 

The net negative effects of indirect communications tools, such as a lack of clarity, confusion, alienation, and time wasted on unproductive activities, can be largely eliminated with the effective use of direct lines.

4. Beyond Words Alone

Digital workplace platforms offer communication tools for employee engagement that go beyond words alone, such as live multi-party video meetings, recorded video briefings, audio interviews, visual factory tours, and a recording of the latest town hall session. 

Professor Albert Mehrabian’s study on personal communication concluded that words convey 7% of the message, the speaker’s voice and tone 38%, and their body language a whopping 55%. Although we might argue with the specificity of Prof. Mehrabian’s numbers, it’s the relative magnitude that speaks the loudest. 

We’ve all been in situations where the words we use in SMS text messages, email or on social media have been misread or misconstrued. Digital workplace solutions offer rich-media modalities for communication and interaction, to enable a fuller expression of human communication.

5. Heightened Awareness of Opportunities to Contribute

Digital workplace solutions offer a sense of the bigger picture to all employees, enabling people to participate in global communities of practice, lead global teams (rather than being isolated to whatever is happening in the local office alone), and learn about innovations across the far-flung reaches of the firm. 

The ideas and opportunities that are accessible to employees help create a larger vision of their own potential career pathway, along with the palatable sense of engagement that flows from such a tantalizing vision. 

Towards Robust Communications

Enabling robust communications across your organizations is crucial. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, digital workplace solutions offer the communication tools you need to increase employee engagement. The benefits are significant. Are you ready to start?

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