3 Steps to Build Measurable Employee Engagement

Welcome to our first blog post! We are excited to share our expertise in developing measurable employee engagement. We will address a series of topics including employee engagement, training reinforcement, culture building and internal communications. In this post, I would like to highlight some fundamentals around the ever-growing buzz on “employee engagement.”

Not surprisingly, employee engagement has been getting more attention, especially as more practitioners worry about the growing millennial workforce that has shown a propensity for wanting more out of their employer. I don’t believe this is just a millennial trend. Competitive benefits and wages, title hopping and working for the next “hot” firm are all contributing factors for talent to seek new opportunities. We all have a “millennial mindset” these days.

A fundamental challenge amongst all types of organizations is: communication. The organizational communication puzzle has increased in complexity due to many factors. 

  • Distributed workforces create both physical and digital divides in communications
  • Matrixed organizations make communication paths more complex with higher probabilities of communication gaps
  • Modern day Information consumption habits are not aligned with old school corporate communications

In Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report, only 13% of employees strongly believe leaders communicate effectively with the rest of the organization. How are leaders expected to align the organization on key objectives, deliver product announcements or tackle customer experience issues without effective communications? Today, employees expect higher levels of transparency and consider themselves smart consumers of the brand. With that in mind, I suggest taking a modern day marketer’s approach to your internal communications.

A VP of Marketing once said to me, “You have big ‘M’ marketing and little ‘m’ marketing. We all wear the little ‘m’ no matter your role.” What he meant was that we should think about marketing not just in the context of brand marketing, but internal marketing as well.

So let’s look at 3 key steps to applying “little m” marketing to engaging your teams:

1. Audience (like a marketing campaign, know your audience)

Unlike traditional marketers who have to segment and make assumptions about their target audience demographics - you KNOW your internal audience. You know exactly what roles they play, where they are located, whether they work in an office, who their manager is and what department they work in. You already possess a gold mine of information that allows you to intimately understand your audience.

Understanding those that need the information is more than half the battle. We are all team members, no matter our position or role. There are many times we wish we had better organizational communications. But there are also just as many times we ask, “Why are they sending this to me?” 

2. Content (relevance for me, my role, just as I need it)

Content is king. But more importantly, it has to be relevant and timely content. Social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and LinkedIn have driven a fundamental shift in the way we consume content and our expectations on how we interact with that content. 

We consume information on-the-go. Our patience wears thin if we have to wait five seconds for a page to load. Instant. Now. Gone. That’s our expectation as we surf the web, watch news stories on the web or relive highlights from last night’s playoff game. 

Your marketing team leverages the same principles on your social media channels. And they are waiting to engage with internal communications in the same way. You think no one read the two page company newsletter? Or the three page open enrollment email? You are probably right. But you also have no way to know. 

3. Metrics (engagement and knowledge)

Measure internal communications? Yes, that’s exactly what we should be thinking about. We pepper our teams with all sorts of communications, but never really know how effective our efforts are. Posters in the breakroom. Email announcements. Updates to knowledge articles. Intranet pages. These efforts are often wasted in our attempt to reach our teams.

Like good marketing efforts, we should measure engagement and adjust our approach. And even better if we can understand the bottom line impact of that engagement. Lower turnover, increased knowledge retention and happier team members all result in improved customer service, brand resilience and safer workplaces. 

When you apply this framework of analyzing your internal audience, identifying relevant and timely content and measuring engagement and knowledge, you really start breaking down communication barriers between leaders and the front line. It is more important than ever in today’s organizations to effectively communicate the sense of purpose throughout the organization, at all levels of the team. 

This is a process and like many others, you reap the benefits of the effort you put in. More on that later. In the meantime, think about how improving lines of communication can result in bottom line impact to the organization.