Digital Changes Everything: Insights on Connecting with Today’s New Workforce (Part 2)

This the second part of two-part series on the state of organizational communications in a digital age focusing the new workforce

As we probe deeper, there is much to consider as we look to complete the intricate communications and engagement puzzle that creates a picture of organizational excellence. Social media is a facet of digital communication encouraging community and networks of interest to emerge and thrive both externally and internally.

Below is a continuation of the insights, thoughts, and trends identified in part 1:

12. False Positives Still Cloud Judgement – Digital is causing a passive loyalty among employees that clouds leadership’s thinking with regard engagement and motivation. People tend to tell employers what they want to hear especially in times of uncertainty and change protecting themselves and keeping their options open.  From a macro standpoint, if your organizational communications strategy and plan is not tied to the overall business strategy and plan it is worth little. Metrics in this regard should be designed to show a correlation and causality between communications and the stated business goals.  Such an approach keeps your efforts grounded in what needs to be accomplished.

13. Glassdoor Challenges EveryoneIt continues to astonish me that our interest in technology far outweighs our focus on achieving outcomes such as stronger relationships internally. I often see technology being used without regard for how it will lead to a better situation. Incorporating new ways of reaching and engaging people is critical to success but overcompensating on the tactical side only leads to complexity and obfuscation…For example, GlassDoor is another window into an organization and being used by job seekers and others to round out their perspective. It must be part of how a communicator assesses the overall perception of the company and result in more effective trust builders … leading to the next point:

14. Social/Digital Complements but Doesn’t Supplant F2F– The most effective communications method ever devised is Face-to-Face. Knowing that, every other method or approach should be designed to reflect or reinforce that truth.

15. Is Your CEO “Social?” – CEOs are migrating faster to social and digital outreach to get their message out and build support for their agenda.  But the reality is that most attempts still appear disingenuous and one-sided.  Being social means listening, debating, challenging, and respecting opinions.  To truly break through, CEOs need to give up control and let their personality be discovered.  Only then will their ideas and opinions be heard and possibly endorsed.

16. Centering “Advocacy” as the Means to Instill Confidence, Camaraderie – My strong belief is that this year is going to be a year in which Employee Advocacy as a meaningful customer attraction and retention lever will gain traction. The benefits are numerous: authentic voice for the company and its products/services with customers and consumers; catalyst for networking and relationship-building among employees throughout the enterprise; credible voice to balance arguments.

17. Multiple Platforms for Different Story Lines – The era of story line development internally is upon us. Instead of one message fits all – both content and channel – breaking down stories into pieces and placing them on different platforms allows employees to find the most meaningful subject line to relate to. Doing so adds to much richer content furthering enhancing people’s knowledge of the business.

18. Getting the Ds Right – It’s about dialogue, discussion, debate vs dissemination. If people aren’t talking about it, it doesn’t matter.

19. Print Ain’t Dead – Contrary to popular belief, print remains an important medium in reaching certain segments of employees – specifically manufacturing, sales, retirees, and employee families. In 2016, print will increase as part of an internal communications ecosystem in organizations looking to gain an edge with specific audiences.

20. Video Needs to Enhance Story Development – As mentioned above, the use of video and visual elements are being inculcated into how communicators are telling stories for employees.

21. Employee Engagement Starts at the Point of Hire – An emerging trend to watch involves organizations establishing expectations for employees in terms of engagement, involvement, information exchange, and communications right at the beginning of employment.

22. Social Collaboration is a Two-Way Street – In past years, the biggest knock on social collaboration platforms was that employees stayed away in droves. Those that did participate spent more time buying and selling home items than learning about the business or building new relationships with colleagues. For social collaboration to bring about the necessary benefits to organizational success such as knowledge sharing, constructive disagreement, relationship-building, discovering new ideas, and challenging entrenched beliefs, both leadership/management and the workforce at large must participate together and consistently. Doing so breaks down barriers and encourages interaction.

From a workforce perspective, the one constant is Relevance.  If our narrative, messages, policies, and decisions connect with employees allowing them to adapt accordingly to the changing environment making the argument themselves then we’ve accomplished our mission.

And the business its goals.

The only problem is that communicators don’t determine Relevance.  Individuals do.

Relevance is the Holy Grail but Communicators Can’t Get There (Alone)

Getting as close to our audience as possible – employing analytics and research – to understand what resonates with people…words, visuals, stories.  The game is about connecting the business priorities to people’s reality including interests, connections, fears, passion, ideas.

When leaders and communicators recalibrate roles to and they become observer and target instead of seeing the workforce that way, Relevance is discovered.

What’s Ahead

While people can debate the nuances and intricacies of organizational effectiveness and communications in today’s digital reality, there is one thing we can all agree on – it should be an incredible journey!

Gary Grates
Gary Grates
Principal