Category Archives for Corporate Communication

People First: The “Right” Communication is Key to Employee Engagement

 

A manager tells a baby boomer employee, “I need you to work on this new project. I’m confident you can figure out what needs to be done,” and walks off. The manager doesn’t give the employee any of the tools needed to do the job properly nor does he explain why the project is important. In another department, a manager sends a millennial employee multiple texts that say, “I’ve been meaning to discuss your future with the company,” and the conversation never takes place.

The first employee feels taken for granted and hopes the work can be completed to the management’s liking. She wants, and needs, goals and feedback as work progresses, but at her stage of life she is not interested in career advancement. The millennial believes the manager is uncomfortable giving feedback and uninterested in the employee’s career plans. He is now looking for a new job.

The Right Way is the Preferred Way

Much emphasis is placed on developing effective (aka the “right”) communication in the workplace, but do your leaders understand the implications of ineffective communication? A decade ago, the workforce primarily consisted of two generations. Today there are usually three or four, and millennials in particular are driving changes in workplace communication. However, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that each generation has a preferred communication style. Many managers continue to rely on one communication style, acceptable 10-20 years ago, and find themselves questioning high employee turnover rates.

The ability of organizational leaders to communicate with employees in the style they prefer, and in a way that meets their expectations, is key to developing engaged employees. For example, millennials like social media, texts, video and other digital-based communications. They appreciate honest and regular feedback, productive training, collaboration and leaders who respond to their input in some manner.

Stepping Out from Behind the Metric Wall

The “right” conversation isn’t always held face to face, but all interactions across communication channels need to have positive qualities. The right conversations cross generations because they’re “tools” that add to the employee’s understanding of the company mission, the employee’s role in achieving that mission and the value he or she delivers. Engaging leadership conversations embrace employee training and development, insights and ideas, and personal goals. They promote a workforce ‘community,’ and are transparent and sincere.

Gallup conducts numerous surveys on employee engagement, and for good reasons. Employee engagement percentages remain stubbornly low, approximately 33 percent. Measuring engagement levels is not enough. In the technology age, overwhelmed leaders often rely on metrics as a wall to hide behind rather than directly engaging employees. Engagement survey results and other metrics cannot replace regular communication, feedback or training. The numbers may indicate progress or a lack of progress, but a good employee engagement program includes ongoing conversations between your leaders and employees, and managers need the appropriate learning to conduct productive, regular conversations.

Right Engagement Leads to Right Answers

A writer in the Harvard Business Review suggests that employee complaints concerning poor communication in the workplace are often symptomatic of a larger, deeper problem. In the article’s example, complaining employees were actually communicating in the workplace, but the real problem was uncertainty about their job responsibilities. Human Resources wasn’t making job responsibilities clear. Leaders trained in effective communication would have examined and uncovered the real issues by engaging employees. This applies to union-proofing your business, too. Employees will inevitably turn to other sources if managers don’t understand and correct larger organizational problems.

The right communication is a linkage between employers and employees, and that can be in person and via video, websites and interactive eLearning that help companies orient, train, inform, educate and connect with employees. In fact, Gallup found that employees who were most engaged had some form of communication with their managers every day. Leaders who use a mix of phone, in-person and digital communication are the most successful in engaging employees of all generations.

Facebook Live for Employee Communication

How to Use Facebook Live to Connect with Employees

Facebook Live is already being utilized as a powerful marketing tool that connects customers with brands and services. But as people become comfortable with it, more and more businesses are now using the live video streaming service for their internal communications.

Rather than hold extensive meetings that take staff away from their duties, these companies are using Facebook Live to get their message out to employee teams quickly and efficiently.

As most people are comfortable with Facebook already, a Live can be very effective at improving employee relations — particularly in the case of  union organizing activity. Answering questions, dispelling myths and educating employees all take on a additional degree of credibility and honesty when they’re addressed Live.

Using Facebook Live for Employee Engagement

If your employees are engaged and valued, they’re less likely to turn to a union – or any outside, third party – to solve internal issues.

We have some great ways you can  use Facebook Live to maintain healthy and productive relationships with your entire workforce. Throughout, we’ll also provide you with some great tips (that savvy marketers know) that also apply to connecting with employees – starting with the idea of promoting your own online event!

PRO TIP: About a day in advance, let employees know you’ll be hosting the Live. Tease the content without giving it away, and be sure to make them feel like they’re IN on the company’s latest news!

Mid-Level Meetings

Your managers can create intimate impromptu meetings at any time with Facebook Live — regardless of where they or your employees are! This can be an effective way to solicit ideas, deliver positive feedback and quickly update the team on business goals. Remember too that these meetings take on a whole different feel when they’re done as a Live. No more awkward conference calls that drag on for what seems like forever! Employees can post questions in the comments, which can be addressed live or even individually after the broadcast is over.

PRO TIP: Keep it short! Don’t expect employees to stick around forever – keeping your broadcast in the 2-3 minute range is ideal.

Major Announcements

If you’re used to making big company announcements to employees via email, consider the impact of making that announcement live. Make an event of it for employees who are able to be there, and broadcast Live for those who aren’t. Gathering employees together for a Facebook Live broadcast ensures nothing is lost in translation, everyone hears the same message, and it can help improve morale and engagement.

Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare used Facebook Live in May of last year to share their ground breaking ceremony with employees. They learned that many more employees viewed the Live after it was over than tuned in while it was happening!

PRO TIP: Expand your audience when the news is good – you can use internal company announcements to make customers and the public feel like part of your success story. Facebook will allow you to “boost” your Live post to an audience of your choosing to make an even bigger splash after the event.

Organization Tours

All too often, employees in large companies know nothing of what happens in other departments or locations. By broadcasting tours of various departments and interviewing key personnel, you can give everyone a flavor of what goes on in seemingly remote areas of the business.

PRO TIP: Even if you’re mobile during your live, be sure to use the highest production values possible. Use a gimbal and an external mic, also be sure your internet connection is strong no matter where you’ll be – and of course, be sure your battery is fully charged!

Question and Answer Sessions aka “Ask Me Anything”

People often feel more emboldened to ask awkward questions when there is safety in numbers. You can give your employees an open forum to get their questions answered by holding Q&A sessions via Facebook Live.

Sometimes it’s even more effective to give them the opportunity to submit questions a day (or at most, two) prior to your Live. Allow them to submit via email, suggestion box or anonymous online form. This gives you the opportunity to review the questions and craft your answer, particularly helpful during a union organizing drive!

This format also has the secondary benefit of bringing in a larger audience, as people often want to hear the answer to the question they’ve submitted!

PRO TIP: When you do a Live meeting, have someone assist by manning the comments. That person doesn’t have to be in the same room as you, but they can post relevant links  as well as make sure questions get answered in real-time.

Practical Tips for Employee Communication via Facebook Live

Whether you’re holding a meeting or a Q&A session, there are a few practical tips that should make your next internal Facebook Live broadcast engaging and informative.

Even if you’re not doing a Q&A format, use the hours before your broadcast to gather questions, ideas and discussion topics from your employees. To keep things organized, join companies like Walmart, Dominos and Starbucks by using the new Facebook Workplace app for the entire process.

There are also several other technical tips to bear in mind when communicating with employees via Facebook Live. For example, you should test your lighting levels with other Facebook users in advance. If you’re using your phone’s forward-facing camera, things may be backward! If you’re holding up any documents or demonstrating anything, remember that it’s a mirror image your audience sees. Finally choose a location that is conducive to the type of broadcast you’ll be creating, including external noise, and attractive (and non-distracting) backgrounds.

It’s important to use Facebook Live as an interactive tool. Be ready to respond to comments as and when they’re written, and address commenters by name when you reply.

Delta Air Lines Thanks its Employees via Facebook Live Marathon

The way the world’s largest companies communicate with their employees is changing, and this was demonstrated recently by Delta Air Lines. The company wanted to thank all of its 80,000 employees for a great year, and did so with a 50-hour Facebook Live broadcast.

Marie Osmond, Jeff Foxworthy, Naya Rivera and other celebrities took turns to thank each and every one of Delta’s employees by name. The mammoth broadcast also featured world record attempts, entertainers and coverage of art creation. Delta’s so-called “Big Thank You” was communicated to business partners, customers and employees using the #DeltaProud Twitter hashtag — thus maximizing viewing figures.

Whether you’ve got big news, regular updates, or you’re just keen to keep your organization union-free, communicating with your workforce via Facebook Live can help you to maintain an open, honest and mutually respectful working environment.

Inspire Your New Hires! How to Create A Stellar Orientation Video

Employee Orientation VideoSo, you’re an HR manager and your company is growing fast — fast. You expect five, perhaps 10 new recruits over the next six months. No, make that 50! Now what? As Donald Miller of StoryBrand states, “All (employee) engagement rises and falls on the employee value proposition.” Part of that value is in how new employees are treated from day one. An orientation video can also raise that value proposition by ensuring that every employee is provided with a consistent welcome message that emphasizes the importance of every role at the company.

Think of your video as the foundation for the company’s “tribal knowledge.” It should include the top things you want every employee to be able to talk about confidently – both inside and outside the company. Here, step-by-step, is how to create a killer employee orientation video.

1. Create a Content Outline

Start by with a “napkin sketch” outline — just the nuts and bolts of your message. Detail the basic narrative and your brand message. Is your company history vital to the corporate culture? Has the company won awards that have directed its later success? What about points of pride in the local community?

Remember that new employees want to feel that they’re a part of something great. What do your clients come to you to achieve? Talk about their successes as much as you do your own and new hires will go home bragging about the company right from the start.

As you refine your outline and add detail, remember that any new employee can easily become overwhelmed. Make a point to focus on the most important takeaways that will inspire and motivate your new hires.

2. Write Your Script

Once you have a solid outline, fill in the blanks. Write a robust script, and decide who will deliver each aspect of your message. You may want one narrator, or two. You may want to use upper management if they have a good on-camera presence. You may even want parts of your message delivered by current employees.  The structure of your video is worth thinking through. Take tech brand Cisco — their employee introduction video has an easy-to-follow format. It starts with a member of the company’s HR talent management team addressing the camera — “We’d like to give you a view into our new employee orientation experience,”  which is then followed by testimonials from the sales, engineering and operations departments.

If your teams aren’t so keen about being on camera, professional talent is definitely the way to go. Keep in mind that if you hire those whose first language isn’t English, you may want to consider producing in alternate languages at the same time, a definite cost savings. Connecting with a Spanish-speaking employee in their preferred language from day one is a sign that you care about and respect their needs.

3. Record Your Talent

The first element of your production includes capturing your script. This might involve recording a company executive on camera, or recording a voice-over by professional talent. Whatever your script calls for, be sure you are prepared. If you’re using company executives, do your best to make them feel comfortable. Recording in a professional studio with a teleprompter can make them feel much more at-ease. If you’re using employees, a question-and-answer approach will help you get the best sound-bites with the most candid approach.

4. Get Shooting

Lights, Camera, Action! Create a shot list from your script to make sure you get enough footage to cover all your narration. If you have multiple locations, plot out how you’ll accomplish everything. You may have interior and exterior shoot days. Be sure to get establishing shots of the company, as well as production, current employees, even your products being used by the customer.

When in doubt, over-shoot! It’s better to have 3 different angles of the same thing than have to re-shoot a close-up later on (particularly if you’re inconveniencing employees to get just the right shot!) You can always trim down your video during the editing process. Oh, and remember, stay true to your script.

Employee Onboarding

5. Post-Production

Next, you’ll want to create your graphics, animation and any titles for your video. You may want to hire a professional animator or graphic artist to help with this part of the production. Plus, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use any music, and purchase the tracks you’ll need.

Editing is just as important (and just as much fun!) as recording your orientation video. During this process, you’ll select the shots you want to use and add transitions and music. This orientation video from hotel chain Ayres Hotels (and here it is in Spanish) is a good example of professional post-production.

“Visual elements such as transitions, slow motion, split screen and other effects will add flare to your video — and who doesn’t want more flare, right?” says the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. “Just don’t overdo it with flashy transitions or animations.”

6. Distribute Your Video

Finally, you need to distribute your video so employees can watch it. You can do this online — direct new hires to your website, for example — or in a small group meeting during onboarding week. Alternatively, upload your orientation video to YouTube, just like Talmer Bank and Trust and Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Sixty-nine percent of staffers are more likely to stay with an organization for three years if they experience a great introduction to their new company. An orientation video definitely improves your onboarding processes but can be time-consuming to make. That’s where a professional production company can be a definite asset. Choose one with decades of experience who can help you create an orientation video that really works. Click here to find out more.

Recruitment Pros: There’s a 33% Chance Your HR Team Thinks You’re Failing

Recruiting New EmployeesIf you’ve ever felt your talent is suffering because of your recruiting and onboarding processes, you are far from alone. A recent study revealed that 33 percent of HR teams believe their organization is “not competitive in the battle for talent” because of recruitment failures.

The U.S. unemployment rate is hovering at low levels, recently hitting its lowest level since 2007. If your company is worried about the national talent shortage, know that avoiding some of the most common HR mistakes could yield a competitive edge.

1. The Wrong Recruitment Tech

Seventy-three percent of HR leaders feel they are not using recruitment technology appropriately. If your organization still scans resumes manually and uses paper checklists, you may have massive potential to become more efficient. From technology-assisted resume matching to automated candidate scheduling, smarter technology can significantly free up time for HR to focus on strategy.

Using the right recruitment technology is also one way to help your organization discover new talent pipelines, from social media candidate sourcing to benchmarking your organization’s openings against talent in your area.

RELATED: How Virtual Reality Will Change Human Resources

2. No Screening for Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is critical for successful employee performance at organizations of any size. Airbnb is one firm who attributes some of their success to hiring employees based on values. Experts recommend using personality assessments and “off-the-wall” interview questions to learn more about who your candidates are as people before making a job offer.

3. Not Setting Clear Expectations With Potential Recruits

Recruitment should be a mutual selection process. Onboarding, or a formal approach to acclimating new hires to your organization, can help your new employees succeed. However, onboarding is also an important way for potential hires to assess fit and determine whether they will thrive in your culture. Some highly successful companies use a “pre-hire orientation” video to acclimate their candidates to culture, values and expectations. Using standardized content, like a video, can introduce massive consistency in global or distributed organizations

Recruitment has never been an easy undertaking, and the nationwide talent shortage has only made it more challenging. Fortunately, there are a variety of technologies that can support comprehensive assessment and efficiency among HR teams.

employer branding

With smarter recruitment technologies, you can access new talent pipelines and tools to holistically assess your candidates. With the use of pre-hire orientation materials, you can also support your candidate’s ability to select the right match for their needs.

 

Creating Your Crisis Communication Strategy

crisis communication strategyFrom General Workplace Crisis To Strikes: Creating a Communication Model that Works

Crisis is a part of growth, and could even be said to drive the world of commerce and business, as a crisis most often represents opportunity. Effective communication is essential to keep crisis manageable and prevent the escalation of crisis into conflict. Conflict, on the other hand, is bad for business, can be damaging to employees and can contribute to what human resources professionals refer to as a “toxic” working environment.

When teams work through a crisis and negotiate meaning and progress together in the workplace, they can accomplish goals, and promote the type of creative thinking and action that lead to innovation, prevent workplace injury, and create greater productivity.

Working with crisis models and communication protocols ahead of time, or on a regular basis, is business and workplace best practice.

First: What Does Successful Negotiation in the Workplace Mean To You?

Learning successful negotiation in the workplace means beginning to communicate in ways that are effective in achieving shared corporate goals. We negotiate within our companies every day — when we speak in meetings, when we write or respond to memos, when we “talk shop” on our breaks, and when we write or distribute written materials in the workplace.

Successful negotiation shows itself in action that demonstrates immediate corrective action that creates positive change. Establish what a properly managed crisis looks like for your company. This measure of success can take many forms – the number of team members involved, the length of time it takes to resolve the crisis… even the finanical impact of the crisis.

Next, Identify the Key Players in Your Workplace Crisis Resolution Plan

Successful crisis resolution protocols require sincere acknowledgment of the perspectives and unique voices of everyone affected by the workplace crisis. When sending out newsletters, briefs, tweets, e-mails, letters or press releases, consider as many perspectives as possible:

  • Company executives – various offices;
  • Employees – full-time, part-time, occasional, on-call;
  • Families of employees;
  • Members of the community;
  • Your business competition;
  • The Media;
    and finally
  • Union leaders – various offices, locals and locations.

Please note: Within a company with no union employees, similar crisis, negotiation and conflicts occur over work conditions, expectations and misunderstandings of communications. All of the strategies discussed here are effective for workplaces that are either unionized and union-free.

Remember: The Medium is The Message

“The medium is the message,” declared media guru Marshall McLuhan in 1977. His cryptic message is still a topic of animated discussion, but the truth is, every successful company and corporation must have a strong “mixed medium” communication system — a system of human intelligence and human resources, combined with a video, online and hard copy communications.

Demonstrating in a crisis that the company is prepared to use a variety of mediums to connect with key players can be a powerful way to de-escalate a crisis situation.

Create Your Plan: Stages of Crisis Escalation

There are a variety of “stage”-focused models of crisis development that illustrate levels of escalation and can help you guide effective response at each crisis stage. There are five stage models, seven stage models and a variety of other models recommended by academics and crisis prevention experts that are useful models for organizations to use to guide crisis intervention and communication protocols.

Knowing that there are various models to illustrate stages of crisis intervention can be an important factor in successful resolution of any type of workplace conflict. Learning new models allows you to craft a custom strategy that works for your workplace and your unique culture. Reviewing these differing approaches encourages innovative and creative approaches to crisis prevention.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Strike in Progress Strategies

When a strike is possible, a signal is sent by all parties involved that negotiations have “failed” and “communication is no longer effective.” Moving quickly past that very real situation is paramount to workplace success. All commercial enterprises, regardless of industry and size, thrive on effective ongoing communications.

Re-establishing communication as quickly as possible is essential. A strike in progress affects all key players, families and stakeholders, as well as the broader community.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Agent Provocateurs and Saboteurs

Agent provocateurs and saboteurs are not storybook characters — they are titles for people involved in a workplace for the purpose of damaging the company. Whether they are people in an employee, executive or union role, they have can a destructive impact on negotiations,  communication systems, and overall company success. A well-trained human resources team reduces the chances that these type of people are hired: They identify employees that are present for destructive purposes, and remove them strategically and immediately.

This kind of crisis can be avoided with attention to hiring practices. Communicating with the remaining members of a team when such an employee is removed is vital.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Managing the Media

Managing the media should be an ongoing shared corporate goal and protocols for media communications should be in place before a workplace crisis degrades into conflict. This is true during union organizing, particularly when the union undertakes a “corporate campaign,” working to damage the company’s reputation or business. Crisis prevention should be a primary communications goal, and keeping in regular contact with local media is paramount. Regular press releases are essential. This regular contact facilitates communication during any type of workplace crisis, negotiation or conflict.

Finally, Long-Term Planning

Managing crisis in the workplace often involves many people, players in many roles and stakeholders. It also involves families, friends, and neighbors. Creative approaches to establishing your unique “stage”-focused model as well as ongoing development of innovative strategies are keys to long-term crisis prevention and successful intervention in the workplace.

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