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5 Steps to Better Engage Your Hard to Reach Employees

26 August, 2021.

5 steps to better engage your hard to reach employees

The number of employees we segment into the ‘hard to reach’ category is expanding. Technological advances, a ‘give it to me now’ culture, and new hybrid/home working policies are all influencing how and when our employees work. From warehouses to home offices, supermarkets to oil rigs, hospitals to delivery drivers – our hard to reach employees make up a huge part of our working population.

It therefore comes as no surprise that in a recent survey we conducted with internal communication professionals, 27% said an inability to engage their hard-to-reach employees is their greatest challenge right now.

In some ways it is refreshing to see that this is a top priority for over a quarter of internal communicators. It suggests they recognise the importance of engaging with these people. For too long, organisations have focused on communicating with the easy-to-reach people; relying on third hand channels to cascade information. Not only is it impossible to know how effective these channels are, but it is also a sure-fire way to make these people feel less important. To feel marginalised and disconnected from the collective vision. Once that feeling is ingrained productivity will decrease and staff turnover will increase.

So let’s prevent this from happening and ensure you find the right ways to engage with your hard to reach employee

5 steps to better engage your hard-to-reach employees

1. Select your channels and get buy-in

How you are going to communicate is the first hurdle to overcome. If you are reading this blog, it suggests the channels you currently use are not effective. But before you discard them and start from scratch, first consider why they aren’t effective. Do they require your employees to take time out of their working day to consume the information? Is this perceived to be a distraction from their ‘actual’ work? It may be that your existing channels are the right mode of communication, but the culture surrounding them needs to shift.

Manager and senior leadership buy-in is absolutely critical. They need to set an example to your employees. They need to be seen using the communication channels and they need to spread the message that it is acceptable to take time to participate in those channels. They also need to spread the wider purpose; the reasons for the new methods of communication. Nail this and you are already well on your way to improving engagement.

So what about the channels? There are many to consider:

  • Team briefings
  • Newsletters
  • Emails
  • Posters and signage
  • An internal communication app
  • Letters
  • An intranet
  • Social media channels
  • Text messages
  • Company events
  • Employee surveys

It is highly likely you will select a few different channels. In fact, in the study we carried out, most organisations have at least 3 channels to communication with their employees. As the provider of an internal communication app, we are obviously advocates of using technology but, ultimately, you need to consider what is right for your employees. What kind of people are they? Is the majority of your workforce made up of millennials who would embrace an app? Or do you have a real mix and need to consider two internal communication channels at the opposite end of the spectrum?

If you’re unsure, carry out an employee survey to find out more about your hard-to-reach employees. That way you will be confident in your decisions.

2. Harness your advocates

Humans are like sheep. We are more likely to join in and get involved when we see others doing so. Therefore, once your channels are up and running and while you are building up your engagement levels, advocates could really help you. Identify who is engaged within your hard-to-reach communities and use their enthusiasm to spread your messages wider. Encourage them to promote the channels you are using and work closely with them to gauge feedback.

Within our internal communications software we automatically identify these advocates making it easy for you to identify and engage with them.

3. Engage rather than broadcast

The moment you start broadcasting information through your channels is the moment you risk disengaging your employees. Where possible, segment your employees so that the communications they receive are only relevant to them. If everything they receive is interesting, they’ll keep reading.

As you put a communication together always consider what’s in it for the reader. How is that information going to help them and what do you want them to do. By keeping these basics in mind, you will write communications for your employees rather than for your leadership team.

Our internal comms app also has the functionality to like or comment on messages which further helps employees to engage with what they are reading. Not to mention helping you to see what people like reading, but I’ll come to that in a moment!

4. Consider your timings

When you communicate could make a real difference to your engagement levels so consider your audience carefully. Are there tight deadlines at a particular time of the week/month that you should avoid for example?

You may also want to consider creating a communication schedule so that your employees become familiar with when they are going to receive set communications. Routine is a large part of our lives, both at work and at home. Having a familiar schedule will really help with engagement encouraging employees to take a few moments at the same time each week/month.

5. Measure and take action

You now have your channels in place, buy-in from those that can influence engagement, and a solid strategy for how and when to communicate. The final string in your bow is to know how successful your communications are. Without this insight you are working blind and will never truly know how engaged your employees are or what you can do to improve employee engagement.

Our internal communications software tracks the interactions with every communication you send. You can compare them side-by-side so that you can see what your employees have engaged with and what they haven’t. You can also carry out surveys within the employee engagement survey feature to gain even further insight into what your employees want to learn about.

Another huge benefit of our internal comms software is the ability to see which teams are or aren’t engaged. For example, our customers can see if a team has historically been engaged but in recent weeks and months that engagement has dropped. It enables others in the business to explore the reasons before the disengagement becomes ingrained.

How you collate and analyse data on your employee engagement is up to you. Just make sure you have a way to measure your success. And when you have the data, ensure the insight is used otherwise you will be back to square one. There is nothing that will disengage a workforce more than them providing you with feedback and that information not being used. They need to see that you are listening and see that you are achieving your goals of improving employee engagement.

Good luck on your journey to improve employee engagement! It won’t be quick, but if you incorporate all five of these steps, you will see the results.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

I am a focused and highly organised communications professional with over 15 years marketing experience in the B2B sector.

Categories
Blog Employee Engagement Employee Wellbeing

How to Motivate Warehouse Employees

how to motivate warehouse employees

How to motivate warehouse employees

The demand for warehouse employees is rising. As stated by the Financial Times “employers are scrambling to recruit staff”. Now more than ever there is a need to focus on how to motivate warehouse employees. Improving employee engagement will both retain existing employees and appeal to future recruits. But this is an enormous challenge in this sector. Someone once told me; “The only thing that motivates warehouse employees is their salary and the people they work with.” There is certainly some truth in this. As you can see below from the top 10 reasons people leave their employment, compensation features highly while many of the others fit into the category of ‘cultural fit’.

Top 10 reasons employees leave their employment

  1. Feeling unappreciated
  2. A lack of proper compensation
  3. Insufficient time off
  4. Change in management
  5. Outdated machinery and equipment
  6. Unrealistic goals
  7. Lack of management support
  8. A lack of challenge
  9. Lack of joyful environment
  10. Lack of career progression

While the distribution sector is so buoyant there is a lot of competition with the potential to poach your employees. There is also the added challenge of many of the baby boomers now retiring resulting in the need to appeal to a very different generation.

Combine this with the fact that the average cost for losing and replacing an employee is £12,000 (Employee Replacement Cost), and it is clear that you need to do everything you can to retain and motivate warehouse employees.

5 steps to retain and motivate warehouse employees

By improving motivation and better engaging employees, you not only increase retention rates but you are also highly likely to see improvements in productivity. There are few sectors where staff satisfaction has such a direct effect on productivity. Here are the 5 steps we recommend every distribution organisation adopts in order to maximise staff retention and employee engagement.

1) Understand your employees

An obvious point but one that is often overlooked. You can’t improve their working lives unless you truly know what makes them tick. What are their motivations for coming to work? What do they enjoy about their working day? What don’t they enjoy? What barriers do they consider to be hampering their performance? What do they enjoy doing when they leave work?

If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions it is important to understand them. Without these answers you cannot set a benchmark, you cannot relate effectively to your employees and you cannot improve warehouse staff retention rates.

To find out the answers you could carry out employee surveys or ask in 1:1s. Whatever your method, ensure you get as many people involved as possible and explain the reasons for the survey to get buy-in.

2) Review your remuneration package

In such a competitive market, it is always a valuable exercise to review what you offer your employees. From salary, through to productivity incentives and holiday allowances. When warehouse staff can pick and choose their employer, these factors will make a huge difference in their choices.

You may want to carry out research on your closest competitors to understand where your remuneration package sits in comparison. The answers to the questions in step 1 will also guide you on what your employees expect and need.

If you don’t already, you could introduce some productivity incentives in which employees receive a reward when they reach certain productivity milestones. If you do this, the most important factors to consider are; make the targets challenging but achievable and consider your reward carefully. You may even want a few different rewards to cater for different employees. Another option to consider is ‘employee of the month’ which recognises and rewards employees who have achieved their productivity targets or who have demonstrated your company values.

You may also benefit from considering more flexible working hours in your employee engagement strategy. This is something the younger generation are likely to look for and is becoming more expected since the pandemic.

3) Provide a pleasant working environment

A very basic but absolutely vital employee need. An unpleasant vs a pleasant work environment will influence an employee’s decision on whether they stay or leave your company. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Cleanliness – dirty areas are depressing but also potentially dangerous. Investing in a cleaning regime will always boost the mood of your employees.
  • Machinery and tools – in a job where productivity is measured constantly, anything that hampers an employee’s productivity will cause significant frustration. Where possible, ensure you have the right machinery and tools in place to minimise these frustrations.
  • Space to relax – working in a warehouse is hard work and often noisy. By providing a quiet, comfortable space to retreat to will help your employees recharge their batteries and have the downtime that is so vital in a busy work environment.
  • Use music – as well as improving morale, a study found that playing music improves the productivity of 73% of warehouse workers. This is therefore well worth considering if you don’t already have a music policy.

4) Ensure effective managerial support

Positive working relationships with managers make a huge difference to employee engagement. With the right processes and feedback loops in place a manager’s role in the distribution sector is absolutely critical to staff retention. They can show appreciation for the work the employee has undertaken. They will help the employee with any career progression aspirations. They will identify any training requirements or opportunities. And they will cascade information in both directions.

The role of a manager cannot be overlooked in this sector. They need to be granted the time and processes necessary to carry out effective 1:1s, provide quality support and put focus on employee engagement. This in turn will foster loyalty, all of which contributes to staff retention.

5) Consider your company culture

The final factor that wraps all of the above steps together is your company culture. Your culture should demonstrate the attitudes and behaviours you expect your employees to adhere to. In essence, when you have nailed your company culture, everyone will be working towards the same goals with mutual respect for one another. It is this shared ethos that will create a community and that will create loyalty amongst your staff.

Central to a solid company culture is communication. Your employees need to know what is expected of them and where they fit in the company goals. Likewise, your employees need to feel listened to and have the avenues to provide ideas and feedback. You can achieve this two-way communication loop far easier in today’s world. Technology such as employee communication software provides all of this in a single platform helping you master employee engagement and ensure your employees feel valued and part of the company’s journey.

daniel wright

Daniel Wright

Marketing Assistant

Driven to learn and better myself physically, mentally and professionally.

Categories
Blog eNPS

Turning eNPS Passives Employees Into Promotors

employee net promoter score passives

employee Net Promoter Score - turning passive employees into promoters

For eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) to work effectively it needs to ignore passive employees. But while it is the promoters and detractors that generate the employee Net Promoter Score, it is actually your passive employees that hold the greatest potential. Before I explain why, let’s remind ourselves how someone becomes a ‘passive’ employee.

How the eNPS calculation works

The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a measure of how likely your employees are to recommend your company as a place to work. Employees are asked one question and answer that question on a scale of 0-10. Those who provide a score of 0-6 are classified as ‘detractors’, those who choose 9 or 10 are ‘promoters’ and those who opt for 7 or 8 are known as ‘passives’. To calculate the eNPS score passives are ignored and the percentage of detractors are subtracted from the percentage of promoters.

While this calculation is extremely effective at benchmarking employee loyalty, running an eNPS survey gives you so much more than just a score. It gives you an opportunity to start exploring the reasons behind these scores.

Life after an eNPS survey

Once you have completed an eNPS survey you will want to explore the reasons behind the scores. For example, if you have a high percentage of detractors you will need to quickly delve into the reasons so that you can take remedial action. Likewise, you will want to learn more about the positivity of promoters so that you can encourage that further. While follow-up approaches for these two groups will need to be carefully considered, they are relatively straightforward. You want to know the reasons for the negativity and the reasons for the positivity. Passives however are much more complex and because of this complexity, they are often overlooked.

What a passive employee could be thinking

‘Passives’ are on the fence. They have a relatively neutral opinion of your company. But the reasons for the neutrality could be vast:

  • They may like your company but had a recent negative experience that is holding them back.
  • They may be negative about your company, but their morals or fear of being reprimanded may have prevented them from pressing the score they really wanted to select!
  • They may just be a reserved character who doesn’t naturally have strong opinions either way.
  • They may not trust the anonymity of the eNPS survey.
  • They may simply be moderately happy at work.

This list could go on an on and as you can see, the reasons for a passive falling into this category are vast. But one thing that is certain – passives hold significant opportunity. They act as a bridge between detractors and promoters. If you can understand their decision to score a 7 or 8 you have an opportunity to convert them. And this conversion will be far quicker than those who are detractors. You also have an opportunity to prevent them from becoming a detractor, or from seeking employment elsewhere.

How to motivate passive employees

Whether through further employee surveys, focus groups or one to one conversations, you need to delve deeper into the minds of your passive employees.

Hot tip: With the follow up questions ensure there is no room for neutrality. You need to ask a question that will give a definitive answer. For example, ask “What single thing can we do to increase the likelihood of you recommending our company as a place to work?” rather than asking “Is there anything we can do to improve your experience at work?”. By being much more direct in your questioning, you will get more valuable answers.

When you know more about the reasons it will be time to make changes. For this to be effective you will of course need buy-in from your leadership team. In fact, they need to be onboard before you even embark on your eNPS survey. Without them understanding the benefit or purpose, you will struggle to follow through on any of the points your employees raise. And that is a guaranteed way of disengaging your employees!

The next step is to communicate. Not just the actions you have taken in response to the survey, but the survey results themselves. Transparency will earn respect and trust, particularly within a group of people who may typically be more reserved.

Finally, you may also want to reflect on your company culture. Particularly if you have a large percentage of passives. There could be many underlying factors that are preventing passives from becoming promoters. The little things that just niggle away at people. For example, an expectation to work longer hours or a disparity between team recognition. Even if these are just perceived scenarios, they will have a negative impact. Addressing these blockers and communicating that they have been addressed, will really help your passive employees view your company more positively.

Converting passive employees with the right software

If you would like to discover how our employee survey tools can help you run effective eNPS surveys and gather deeper follow-up insight have a look at our eNPS page and employee survey page for more information.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

I have over 15 years marketing experience in the B2B sector and have always been heavily involved in internal communication and employee engagement. I firmly believe that with the right engagement strategy in place, an organisation can achieve so much more.