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The damage caused by employee sleep disorders

22nd March, 2022.

The damage caused by employee sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are a global epidemic. A whopping 45% of the world’s population suffer from sleep problems. That’s 45% of your employees that may have a reduced attention span, poor memory, lack of energy and mood swings. All of these symptoms lead to poor or risky decision making. So much so that research suggests that 13% of workplace injuries and 20% of vehicles crashes are caused by tiredness.

While the immediate implications are clear, many are unaware of the long-term damage sleep disorders can cause. Impaired immune function, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression are all linked to sleep disorders. 

How to support employees suffering from sleep disorders

Given the detrimental impact sleep disorders can have on working and personal life, we need to ensure our employees have the support they need.

Less than a third of people suffering from a sleep disorder seek professional help. The reason for this may be because awareness is lacking. Here are a few facts that you could share with your employees to encourage them to seek help:

  • Sleep problems affect a third to a half of all adults at some point.
  • Sleep problems constitute problems getting to sleep, waking up early, or walking for prolonged periods during the night.
  • Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable. 

Here are some really useful resources to help your employees manage their sleeping habits and identify if they are suffering from a sleep disorder: 

  • Understand what might be causing tiredness – this NHS article helps to explain the potential reasons for tiredness.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene – for those suffering from tiredness (rather than a sleep disorder) this guide provides advice to help get a good night’s sleep.
  • A list of sleep disorders – The Sleep Charity explains each of the sleep disorders, from narcolepsy to bruxism, and the common causes of each. 
  • Know when to seek medical help – because there are so many causes of poor sleep, it can be difficult to know when to speak to a doctor. This checklist makes that decision easier.
  • Useful FAQs – these frequently asked questions cover everything from how to cope with a child that won’t go to sleep, to what foods help induce sleep. 

Workplace factors influencing sleep patterns

Excessive workload, organisation change and shift working may all negatively impact sleep. 

While it may be difficult to directly measure how work is impacting sleep habits, you can understand more about the work-life balance. An employee survey that includes work-life balance survey questions such as the following will enable you to make any necessary changes:

  1. Does your work schedule allow you to spend quality time with your friends and family?
  2. Is your workload excessive?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, on average, how stressed do you feel at the end of your working day?
  4. If you were unhappy with your work-life balance would you feel comfortable raising your concerns?
  5. How could your work/life balance be improved?

Surveys such as this should be carried out regularly to highlight and resolve any imbalances. 

We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. Despite it being a basic human need, that need is often overlooked. By starting conversations and encouraging employees to share their opinions and experiences, we can help employees manage their sleep problems and address their sleep disorders. 

daniel wright

Daniel Wright

Marketing Assistant

With a desire to grow personally and a wish to improve working lives through employee engagement, I am thrilled to be part of building an internal comms system that connects everyone.

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Supporting employees with stress in the workplace

21st March, 2022.

Supporting employees with stress in the workplace

As an internal communicator you have a lot of strings to your bow. One of those includes supporting employees with stress in the workplace. In this blog we explore the different steps that can be taken to educate and support employees.  

Stress in the workplace: the current picture

Data from the Health and Safety Executive shows an enormous increase in stress, depression and anxiety in recent years.

A second study found that 79% of workers have experienced burnout with 35% reporting high or extreme levels.

The increases we have witnessed in recent years is a clear indication that we need to better support and education our employees.

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Stress in the workplace: the challenges

Whilst stress can directly impact our mental health, it isn’t a recognised illness in its own right. That’s because some stress is good for us. Mild stress gives us determination and helps us get tasks completed. But it is this non-defined, sliding scale of stress that creates a number of challenges: 

1) There are so many causes of stress. This chart from CIPR shows the most common causes of stress for the UK population: 

While just two of these relate specifically to the workplace, all of the stress factors could influence behaviour and performance at work. When there are so many contributing factors, it can be difficult to identify what is causing our own stress and even harder again for line managers to pick up on.  

2) We don’t always recognise when stress levels are starting to become unmanageable. When we all experience stress and there are so many contributing factors, it can be hard to recognise when our stress levels have become excessive. As a result, stress can go unmanaged for greater lengths of time and often lead to illnesses such as anxiety and depression. 

3) Stress alone is often not perceived to be a big enough problem. The stigma of mental health is still prevalent particularly when talking about stress. One of the causes of this is the generalist way in which we use the term “stress”. For example, if we are experiencing ongoing financial problems, we would describe that as “stressful”. But we would also use the same word to describe a period of momentary stress such as doing a speech. 

The two are very different. One could have a negative affect while the other could be beneficial. As a result, if someone is reaching their ‘tipping point’, using the term “stressed” to describe how they feel may be overlooked. It may even prevent them from speaking up in the first place.

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What we can all do to reduce stress in the workplace

We all have a role to play in educating and supporting each other in the workplace.  

What employers can do to support employees with stress in the workplace

Ultimately as an employer you need to create a safe culture. One in which employees feel comfortable starting a conversation about how stress is impacting them. The more this can be focused on prevention and early intervention the better. Here are some suggestions of how you can achieve that:

  1. Stress audits – it is your legal duty to protect employees from stress at work. By carrying out a risk assessment you can identify the areas you need to improve. The HSE has a useful template to help you do this.
  2. A formal wellbeing strategy – in 2021 only 50% of UK organisations had a formal strategy or plan in place. With a strategy specifically aimed at the mental wellbeing of your employees it will emphasise the importance you place on their mental health and help guide your team when supporting employees.
  3. Ensure line mangers understand their role – it’s important for your line managers to know that they do not need to diagnose stress or come up with a treatment plan. Their role is to recognise the signs, provide a safe environment for discussion and to navigate individuals towards sources of help. Training could be beneficial to help your line managers better support their team.
  4. Mental Health First Aiders – with trained Mental Health First Aiders present you give your employees an additional route for support. Employees often feel more comfortable speaking to someone who doesn’t work directly in their team. Their training also provides reassurance that they will listen and understand.
  5. Be aware of the impact of change – any change can cause stress so be aware of how any organisational changes could be impacting your employees. Offer them additional support if needed and keep in touch more regularly.
  6. Create a community – this year’s Stress Awareness Month revolves around the theme of community following evidence of how impactful loneliness can be to our mental health. For all of the above points to be successful your employees need to feel like they are part of a community. One that is supportive and encouraging. Good internal communications are central to this.
    1. An employee engagement app can help you share useful information but also give your employees a voice – all of which is vital to achieve a community feel. For example, you could share useful information about stress, run employee surveys to establish work-life balance and launch a new exercise scheme, all within the same platform.

What line managers can do to support employees with stress in the workplace

Line managers play a massive part in supporting employees’ stress levels. But they are also a big cause of stress – the HSE reported that the main factors cited to be causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety are workload pressure and a lack of managerial support

We need to better equip our line managers so they can become a support rather than a cause. Here are some suggestions to help line managers reduce employee stress:

  1. Know the signs of stress – stress is multi-faceted. Line managers need to look beyond working life and recognise the signs of stress. This factsheet provides a helpful list.
  2. Be able to start a conversation – broaching a conversation with an employee about their stress levels could help prevent the stress from becoming unmanageable. This Talking Toolkit provides useful guidance and questions to help do just that. 
  3. Know where to signpost people – if line managers identify that an employee needs additional support they need to know what to do next. Having a list of the options will ensure the employee gets the support they need – whether that’s through a Mental Health First Aider, member of HR, external counselling service or a support charity. 
  4. Draw upon their compassion – showing compassion is absolutely critical for employees to feel confident enough to speak up. While some managers may naturally have compassion, others may need to work harder to develop those skills. The CIPD have some useful quizzes to help managers understand how their managerial style supports the wellbeing of their employees. This one looks specifically at behaviours and this one explores the barriers that may be holding managers back from supporting their team.

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What internal communicators can do to support employees with stress in the workplace

As an internal communicator you have the gift of reach. You can communicate with a large proportion of your workforce in a way that few others in your organisation can. Your communications should span everything from prevention to support, from policies to individual stories. Here are our top tips to help reduce employee stress:

  1. Talk about what your organisation is doing – if a new policy has been put in place or managerial stress awareness training is taking place – let your employees know. The more visible these initiatives are the more aware you employees will be of the importance your organisation places on mental health.
  2. Ensure employees know where they can turn – as an organisation you will have multiple support mechanisms for employees experiencing extreme stress. Ensure you promote these regularly to make it as easy as possible for your employees to seek help. This will include internal support such as line managers, mental health first aiders and links to wellbeing benefits, but it is also useful to include links to external support networks such as the following:
    1. NHS urgent mental health helpline – for periods of crisis
    2. NHS guidance on stress – including useful contacts and guidance 
    3. Side by Side – an online community where you can listen, share and be heard (delivered by MIND) 
    4. Rethink Mental Illness – providing practical help on a wide range of topics including living with mental illness, medication, The Mental Health Act and carers rights.
  3. Raise awareness of stress – our greatest weapon against stress is awareness. Help employees understand the causes, symptoms and coping mechanisms for stress. Rethink Mental Illness has a useful guide which highlights the signs and causes of stress, together with some guidance on managing stress levels.   
  4. Share stories – if you have any advocates who would be willing to share their story that could really help others. It can be very daunting to speak out. Seeing someone else’s story can give that little boost needed to take that first step.  

What you can do to support your own stress levels

Whilst we are busy supporting others with their stress levels, we can sometimes forget about ourselves. Take a moment to complete this stress test to find out where your stress levels are. At the end you’ll also receive recommendations for things you can do to reduce your own stress. 

Using technology to manage stress in the workplace

Technology makes a significant difference to the awareness and support of employees. VRAMP is an internal communication tool that helps organisations better connect with their employees. Looking specifically at stress awareness and support, this is what VRAMP can do:

  • You can reach all your employees no matter where or when they work – you can easily share messages via the employee app, desktop or email.
  • You can give your employees a voice through comments and employee surveys – helping to pick up on signs of stress.
  • You can target specific groups of people through employee segmentation – for example, if a team is undergoing significant change, you can keep in touch just with them to ensure they are OK.
  • Detailed analytics provide valuable insight including engagement behaviours. VRAMP shows you who is and isn’t engaging. Should engagement levels suddenly drop, you have early indicators that can be explored before they become impactful.

Find out more about how VRAMP can help you manage workplace stress by seeing a demo.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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Grab employees’ attention with internal comms

3rd March, 2022.

How to grab employees’ attention with your internal comms

People are a tough audience to crack.  Today you have to work even harder to grab your employee’s attention. Twenty years ago, research found that we have an attention span of 12 seconds. Today, this has reduced to 8 seconds!

But why are we seeing this decrease?

Distraction. We have distractions everywhere. I bet just by inserting the emojis below you looked at those before reading this sentence!

😍 🐪 🍓 ⚽ 🏝️ 🏍️ ⌚ 🔑 ✔️ 🐬👀 🍉 🥄 🔔 🎈 💡 😛 🧲 😺 👌

Today we are always connected. Smartphones, hyperlinks, pop-ups; they all grapple for our attention making it far harder for us to focus on one thing at a time.

So, if we don’t capture the attention of our employees in that 8 second window, there’s really little point in sending the communication in the first place.

This snippet of our Operations Director speaking at a conference explains our challenge perfectly.

 

10 tips for capturing employees’ attention

1) Consider the words you use

The 101 of internal communications: using the right language to capture attention.

Headers and subject lines need particular attention because these in themselves could use half of those precious 8 seconds. Draw upon your creative juices and really put yourself in the shoes of your employees to find a headline that will make them want to read on. Below are some of the best subject lines we’ve seen our customers use when covering some of the ‘drier’ topics.

The best internal comms subject lines

  • “Upcoming changes: action required” (used for a policy update)
  • “Your input is needed today” (used for a staff survey)
  • “Breaking news” (used for a COVID update)
  • “[name], thank you” (used for a financial update)
  • “The recipe for success” (used for a financial update)
  • “We did it again” (used to notify people of a health and safety standard)

8 best practices for writing internal communications

In addition to the initial hook of the subject line or title, keep these best practices in mind with everything you write:

  • Write for people, from people
  • Use the vernacular your employees use
  • Be succinct
  • Use headlines to break copy up
  • Ensure the purpose of the communication is upfront and clear
  • Be consistent
  • Always proof read!

2) Use visual elements

Use video, infographics and images wherever possible. A study found that 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read an email or text.

The majority of us are very visual. We’re able to digest more information if it is visual and this captures our attention for longer. Even if text is necessary in your communication, consider using something visual at the start to draw people in.

3) Balance consistency with valuable content

Sending specific communications at set times can help with engagement. It becomes familiar for your employees to pause what they are doing and digest your communication. BUT this will only be effective if your communications are informative.

Just because you’ve always sent a newsletter every month for the last 6 months, it doesn’t mean you should maintain that rhythm if you don’t have anything valuable to say. If you believe employees have tuned into the consistency of your updates, instead of sending the full-blown newsletter you could just send a shorter message or even push out a note to say, ‘everything is ticking over nicely but it’s been a quiet month so just tune in next month instead!’

Don’t be afraid to break the mould. Employees will appreciate this level of honestly and it’ll help you keep their attention for longer.

4) Segment employees

In a commercial world we witness segmentation all the time (though it is often called ‘personalisation’ in this context). The messages we receive are addressed to us, the recommendations we receive via our online supermarket shop relate to what we’ve bought before, the adverts that pop up on web pages are items we’ve looked at but not yet bought. We live in a consumer-led world in which we are presented with information that is relevant to us.

If I repeatedly receive information that is not relevant to me, I will ignore it from the moment the message arrives. We’ve all been there. Think about the times you’ve ended up on a mailing list for something you have no interest in. Now, as soon as you see who the email is from, you do a quick swipe on your phone and it goes straight into your deleted folder.

Just as in our personal lives, relevance is key. Only send internal communications to the people it is relevant for, or of interest to. These segments need to be mapped against the type of communications you send and you will probably have multiple segments for each employee. For example, geographical segmentation, job role segmentation and project segmentation.

There’s no right or wrong answer. Just segment against your communication plan.

5) Personalise communications

Closely linked to the above point.

Ensure your communications are addressed to the individual. “Dear Team” doesn’t cut it when we are used to the level of personalisation described above. Our employees need to feel as though you are speaking directly to them.

Addressing your messages to a named person is a start but personalisation can go much further. With relevant segments in place, you can tailor messages much more precisely. Some technologies also enable you to respond to previous actions taken and tailor web pages against data and behaviours.

Ultimately, the more you can personalise your internal comms messages, the more engaged your employees will be.

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6) Connect people

On top of segmentation and personalisation consider the connections employees have with each other. People are interested in people. Utilising the connections that already exist will grab attention.

The sender

Your communications don’t have to be sent from the same person. And they certainly shouldn’t be sent from an ‘empty’ email address or account. For example, “The internal comms team” or worse still “do-no-reply@company-name”!

Think about the messages you are trying to get across and consider which ‘sender’ would capture the attention of your recipients the best. Would a financial update be better if it was passed down the chain and interpreted by each manager? Would the Christmas party announcement be better coming from someone at the centre of most social occasions?

Combining communications

Whilst necessary, ‘dry’ topics can make it extremely difficult to capture attention. If you aren’t seeing the engagement levels you want, consider wrapping your more mundane topics up with other people-focused updates. For example, while the financial update is important, your employees are more likely to be drawn to an update about their colleague. Using this as your hook could get their attention enough for them to then go on and read the financial update.

7) Consider the user experience

Within a few seconds an employee will decide if a communication deserves their attention purely based on how it looks. Take this blog as an example. If I had written this as it comes out of my mind without any paragraphs, breaks or headlines you probably wouldn’t have got this far.

Structure and layout

We need to make communications as digestible as possible. Consider the layout of your communication, the use of colour, images and bold text. Even the font you use will influence opinion.

Accessibility

Access to your communications also need to be as easy as possible. If employees need to navigate software to reach your communications what is that journey like? Multiple clicks that are perceived to be unnecessary will become a blocker. As would an ineffective search facility. Go on the journey you are expecting your employees to take and ensure it is as efficient and intuitive as possible.

Preference

If you are in a position to ask your employees what their preferred channel is for receiving information do so. By giving them control of how they digest information they will instantly be more engaged.

Piggy backing

Consider if your communications can sit alongside your employee’s day-to-day job. If there is a central access point for data or documentation could your communications also be located there? It’s no coincidence that intranets host HR documentation and employee communication platforms include employee directories. These sources of information act as a ‘pull’ to bring employees to a central point. With communications in the same place, you are making the process easier for your employees.

8) Utilise alerts

If you have something really important to tell staff, shout about it. You are just one communication amongst many distractions so use attention-grabbing techniques: push notification via text message, pop-ups on the intranet, urgent notifications on emails.

Whatever tools you have available, don’t be shy about utilising them. But don’t do it often. If you do, the perception of ‘urgent’ will fade.

9) Get the right timing

Be the source of information

Every internal communication needs to be informative, accurate and timely.

If I’ve heard news via the grapevine, I’m unlikely to read a post about it two days later. Even if the information I received initially went through a process of Chinese whispers and isn’t actually accurate, the arrival of the official update two days later will feel like old news and not grab my attention.

Wherever possible, internal communications need to be the first source of information, not an afterthought.

Accommodate working life

Whilst internal communications must be the informant of news, they must also consider the working patterns of employees. If there is always a ridiculously busy period at the end of the month, important communications should be reserved until there is greater capacity to digest the information.

10) Use data to learn

While all the above points are nuggets of best practice, ultimately it is your employees that will tell you what grabs their attention. Use all the stats available to you to build a picture of what works well. 

  • Open rates give you a good indication of the effectiveness of your subject line.
  • Click rates tell you if the content of the message is of interest.
  • Open times show you when your employees are reading your messages.
  • Heatmaps show you where your employees are looking.
  • Page visits show you what information people are most interested in.
  • Video views tell you if employees are paying attention all the way to the end.
  • Social media reactions show you what people feel about your messages.
  • Bounce rates tell you if the content is what your employees were expecting.
  • Surveys give you detailed insights on specific elements of your communications.
  • Device usage tells you how your employees digest your information. 

There is a plethora of data sources: the above is just a snapshot. Once you establish what data is available to you, build analysis into your schedule until you have enough insight to inform your decisions. 

This will make a huge difference. It will take away the guess work and give you evidence that you can build from. 

Round-up 

The purpose of internal communications is a good one. They exist to inform and create a community. But in the busyness of our lives this purpose can get lost. With these 10 best practices for engaging employees, you will bring your communications to the forefront and encourage employees to take notice. So go grab those 8 precious seconds with all your might!  

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author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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Blog Employee Wellbeing

Why we support apprenticeships

6th January, 2022.

Why we support apprenticeships

The second week of February is National Apprenticeships Week. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take off our internal comms and employee hats for a bit and talk about our experience of apprenticeships and why they are so effective.

We are a growing business. In 2021 our workforce increased by 25% and that is set to continue in 2022. As a business we are very aware of the social and environmental impact we have. At the start of 2021 we knew that we needed to expand our marketing team and were also very aware of the challenge young people had in finding employment during the pandemic. This led us to the Kickstart Scheme. The Scheme looks to get people aged 16-24 years, who are at risk of long-term unemployment, into work.

This is the first time we had explored such a route and, if I’m honest, it was a rocky start. We had very few applications at the start and those we had were a poor match to the skills and background we needed. In hindsight, I think this was more due to teething problems with the process but at the time it made us feel dubious!

After a couple of months of searching we came across one CV that seemed a better fit. A few weeks later Dan started with us! The Kickstart Scheme lasts for 6 months and during this time Dan settled in brilliantly. At the end of the Kickstart Scheme we offered him a permanent role but we also explored routes to expand his qualifications because he has a big thirst for learning. 

 

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Cue apprenticeships!

We quickly found a course that worked well for both Dan and us as his employer. Dan now continues to carry out his day job but also takes a day out a week to study for his Marketing degree.

The journey for us has been great. The process moved quickly and Dan was officially an apprentice just a couple of months after we looked into the options. The apprenticeship not only gives Dan an opportunity to expand his knowledge, it also brings fresh ideas and knowledge into our business. It’s this double benefit that made it an obvious choice for us.

But less about us. Let’s hear from Dan himself! Here’s his summary of apprenticeships:

“An apprenticeship appealed to me because it lets me learn new concepts whilst also putting those concepts into practice. It’s this combination of academic and practical experience that works really well for me.

Before I started I was apprehensive about fitting everything in. I always want to give 100% so to do that in work and in my studies, whilst also carrying on with everything else outside of work was daunting. But once I had a clear schedule I soon got into the rhythm and now it just feels normal!”

For us apprenticeships weren’t a planned route. As a business, we knew we wanted to support a young person in their career but what that route looked like very much depended on them. While we knew the format of an apprenticeship would work well within our business, unless it suited Dan as well, there was no point pursuing it. But as it happens, Dan’s enthusiasm and way of learning fits brilliantly, hence the success we’ve had to date.

If there are any businesses or potential apprentices considering an apprenticeship (or the Kickstart Scheme) we’d be more than happy to discuss our experiences with you. #AskAnEmployer #AskAnApprentice

#NAW2022

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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Blog Internal Communication

How 2021 will effect the 2022 internal communications agenda

6th January, 2022.

How 2021 will impact the 2022 internal comms agenda

With 2021 now behind us, many are reflecting on the year that has passed and planning for the year to come. Us included. 

2021 – what can we say about you?

It was an extension of 2020! COVID was still very present with many internal communication departments still being consumed by COVID updates. They were forced to be far more reactive than in the past and the disruption with sickness and isolation continued to challenge organisations up and down the country.

But, despite its challenges, the COVID pandemic has actually brought some positive change within internal communications.

  1. Digital transformation – technological solutions for internal comms have been on the market for many years now. Many organisations were considering their benefit, but the pandemic gave a new level of urgency bumping internal comms software up the agenda. As a result, many organisations are now far better equipped to communicate with their employees than they have ever been in the past.
  2. Leaders became more visible – COVID changed the dynamic between our leaders and employees. Leaders were asked to step up and lead from the front. Communications were more transparent and this approach was well received by everyone. As a result, many organisations are continuing with this more personable approach.
  3. A new understanding of wellbeing – employees were put first. Their wellbeing was the biggest priority and this has readjusted thinking for the long-term.
  4. Wider organisational agendas – with a greater focus on people, 2021 saw a shift in priorities. Everyone became more aware of the organisational impact on wider societal factors. Whether that’s how an organisation achieves work/life balance or how they respond to COP26. Corporate social responsibility has risen up the agendas and we believe this trend is set to continue.
  5. A greater need for internal comms – open, honest and consistent communications have been essential rather than nice to have. Senior leaders have directly seen the impact effective internal communications can have on an organisation. This recognition for internal comms has led many organisations to invest in a stronger internal communications function.

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This year’s focus

As an internal communicator, you are riding the wave of opportunity. Your internal communications have shone in 2021. They have demonstrated the difference strong internal communications can make to individuals, teams, and organisations as a whole.

We all hope that 2022 will be known as the year things returned to normal. But, for internal communications, we don’t want normality to resume. We want internal communications to continue as an essential function that sits centrally in every organisation. Not for internal comms to sink back into the shadows.

Continuing to evidence value will therefore be essential. You need to prove why internal comms should continue to be an investment for business leaders.

To evidence the best performance possible, you are going to need to run a tight ship that operates efficiently and delivers communications that engage with the right audiences.

Download our latest guide to delivering effective internal communications for guidance on:

  • Ensuring communications resonate
  • Removing internal comms inefficiencies
  • Creating an effective internal communications strategy
  • How to measure performance
  • How to convert an internal comms strategy into an internal comms tactical plan

Here’s to a positive year to come. Internal communications are on an exciting journey and we can’t wait to see the developments and growth that take place over the next 12 months.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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Blog Internal Communication

Steps to effective change management comms

25th November, 2021.

7 steps for effective change management communications

Change is a vital and common part of any evolving organisation. As such, change management communications consume a big chunk of an internal communication team’s time – whether that is communicating an acquisition, the implementation of new software or procedures, a new brand identify or simply a change in personnel.

Whatever the change, and no matter how positive that change, some of your employees will feel unnerved by the change while others will feel excited. Every change management project is complex for an internal communicator because of the strong emotions employees will feel.

We also have to deal with the fact that a significant number of change projects fail, or at least encounter serious problems. The statement that “70% of change projects fail” is well known in the corporate world and while some argue for this stat and some argue against, what is clear is that any change management project is very likely to experience a bumpy journey, particularly if it is a large project.

But what can internal communications do to make this journey smoother?

The role of internal communications during an organisational change​

Thankfully you don’t need to manage the change project which means you won’t be worrying about the ROI or how to resource the project. But you will need to provide timely and relevant information to those who need it throughout the change project. You are basically the mechanism for momentum: you stick together everything everyone is doing and bring other employees aboard for the journey!

The point of bringing employees onboard is a particularly important one. There is a saying that “you will only transform when you have changed how people behave” and this is particularly pertinent for change communications. No matter how successful the acquisition of a new company is, or the implementation of new software, the project can only be counted as a success if your employees embrace the new way of working and continue to align with your goals and values. Without this vital step, the success of the project will always be restricted.

So, what can you do to make an organisations change project as successful as possible?

The 7 essential steps to an effective change management plan

1. Segment your audiences effectively

We all know there is no point sharing a communication if it is of no relevance to the recipient. With change communications the recipient may be resistant to the project and not wish to hear your communication so the need to segment effectively is even more important.

Consider all of your audiences; from the employees who will need to adapt how they work as a result of the change, to the people making the change happen, to the leadership team.

Whilst your number one job is to communicate transparent updates to keep everyone informed, you may also need to do an element of education. For example, does your leadership team and deployment team fully understand the importance and value of internal communications during a change programme? If they don’t, you need to spell it out to them because a change communication plan without the support of leaders and managers is going to be an uphill struggle. 

So, while considering your audiences consider the type of communication you will need. Also consider whether each of those audiences may have people sitting in different camps. Could you have some that are in favour of change and some that are hesitant of change for example? If so, are there ways in which you can segment these groups so that you can build communications that are better suited to each audience?

Spend time considering each audience. Speak to some of them if that would be useful. By the end of this phase, you want to feel as though you could step into the shoes of each segmented audience member and be confident in the information they would like to, and need to, hear. 

Depending on the number of segmented audiences you have, you may find it useful to create an audience persona for each to refer to as you build your communications. These personas would be an average profile of someone in each group and include points that will really impact how they receive your internal communications. For example, what pains will they experience, what hesitations are they likely to have, who within the business is likely to influence their opinion, etc? These will help you keep your messages focused. 

The more you can understand the audiences you will be communicating with the more pertinent your internal communications will be.  

2. Consider your culture

 Statistics show that 70% of change projects fail because of culture-related issues. Your culture has the potential to either make or break this project, so it is important to take a moment to consider the strength of your culture before the project begins.

If you have a strong culture your task is far easier. Your employees will be invested in the change and that positivity will see most people through any challenging periods.

That said, depending on the scale and type of change, even the strongest of cultures can start to crack. This is something to keep a close eye on throughout the project. Scheduling regular employee pulse checks would be an effective way to monitor this.

Should culture be a concern for you it will be important to put a far greater emphasis on communications. Your employees are likely to need greater levels of communications to provide reassurance and keep them focused. Meanwhile your management should also play a heavier role in connecting with employees during the project to support and listen to them.

It will also be worth pointing out your cultural concerns to the leadership team to ensure they are aware of the potential issues. The more aware everyone is, the more can be done to help align everyone with the project and wider organisational goals.

3. Dig deep into the change project

 For you to communicate effectively you need to understand the ins and outs of this project; what the end goals are, how long it is anticipated to take, who will be involved, who will be impacted and why the change is necessary. The more knowledgeable you are the more transparent you can be with your change management communications.

This will also be an opportunity to get to know the individuals who will be responsive for rolling the project out. This will give you a good feel as to who is best placed to keep you updated throughout the project. The better this connection the more timely and accurate your communications.

4. Review past change management processes

 Have you, or anyone else in your team, produced a change management communication plan before? If so, great, your job may have become far easier! But be sure to analyse the previous project thoroughly. What you don’t want to do is inherit any past mistakes, failings, or even mediocre results.

If you are unsure of the effectiveness of previous change management communications projects, or if there is no evidence of any, speak to people. Inevitably, unless you are in a very young business, every organisation will have experienced change at some point and that change will have been communicated somehow. Speak to those involved in rolling out the project but also speak to people at the receiving end. While this process may not bring complete clarity over what you should do, it is likely to unearth some things that you shouldn’t do!

5. Establish your methods of communication

 Consider both the channels and mediums you are going to use.

First start with the how. How will you communicate to each of your audiences? Will the same method work for everyone or do you need to consider different routes. For example, while email might be effective for office workers, if you have frontline or shop floor employees they need to receive their information in a different way such as through an internal communications app.

If you already have effective channels of communication in place great, but if you don’t, depending on the scale of the change project, it may be worth exploring other options. If the employees who need to know about the project don’t receive your internal communications, or receive a diluted or delayed message, distrust and a sense of uneasiness is likely to manifest.

It is also worth considering multiple channels of communication. What works for one employee may not work for the other and for particularly important messages during the project, multiple channel communication will help to emphasis its importance.

You also need to consider the format of communication you are going to use. Traditionally we communicate in written form but could some of your change communications be better as a video, image, infographic or face-to-face. While you don’t want to create unnecessary work for yourself, it is important to consider all of your audiences and identify the mediums that are likely to best resonate with each group. 

6. Build your internal communication change management strategy

 In comparison to the other stages this is the easy bit – the writing! Using all the knowledge you’ve gained from the points above you can now start to plan your change communication plan.

We would recommend you have a high-level timeline for quick reference to help others in your team, and wider organisation, understand what needs to happen when. Download our free communication change timeline to get started on this. Change management timeline template

Throughout your communications as the duration of the project unravels, remember to regularly remind employees of the purpose of the change. As delays or problems occur and employees are inconvenienced by the work, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal. Regular reminders of how their working life will be improved once the change project is completed will always be valuable. 

7. Measure and review your strategy

The final but most important step in your change management communication process. This is often a step that is overlooked (48% of communicators do not monitor the effectiveness of their internal comms), but it will make or break your change communication plan.

After the time you have spent crafting your change communication plan you must track and measure its effectiveness. This will help you understand which communications are resonating and which aren’t. With the right data, you will also be able to see which teams are engaging with your communications and which aren’t. This is hugely valuable information that will enable you to adjust your plan and target specific groups with key messages.

With data in your back pocket, you can react and respond. You can identify ‘problem’ groups and adjust your strategy. Those who use our internal communications software will also use our analytics to identify potential issues before they have bubbled to the surface. For example, they can see engagement levels over a set time period and should a previously engaged team suddenly disengage they have conversations within the business to identify why. This means they can often resolve an engagement problem before it has impacted anyone else in the business.

In a project where there are so many variables this level of insight can make a massive difference to the effectiveness of the communications plan.

Of course, to be able to utilise this level of data you will need internal comms software to support you. If you are not currently in a position to utilise such software there are still other ways to measure your success. Granted they won’t give you the same level of insight but the data will still be useful. Here are a few methods you could use:

  • Email open and click rates – these will be a good gauge for the effectiveness of each communication and help you to establish strong subject lines and links.
  • Employee pulse checks – regular quick-fire surveys will help you to monitor overall engagement.
  • eNPS surveys – an employee Net Promoter Score will provide you with an employee engagement score. If you are embarking on a large change project you may want to carry out an eNPS survey at the beginning, the end, and potentially during, the change. This will help you to keep tabs of the impact the project has had.
  • Focus groups – bringing employees together and asking their opinion on your change communications and the wider project will give you a great snapshot of opinion.

The key takeaway is to measure as much as possible. The more you know about how your change communication plan is being received, the more you can do to improve it. The more you can do to improve it, the more successful it will be.

 

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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Blog Employee Surveys

Employee survey questions

11th November, 2021.

The best employee survey questions

In 2020 there were 44,000 businesses in the UK with over 50 employees. Our State of UK Employee Engagement research found that 52% of businesses send an employee survey at least once every 6 months. That means, every year, there is a minimum of 45,760 employee surveys going back and forth between businesses and employees. That’s a lot of opinions, a lot of data and a lot of questions to get right!

Before we highlight some of the strongest questions to include in your employee surveys, let’s cover some of the essentials first.

The 15 dos and don’ts of employee surveys

Employee surveys are a hugely valuable method of gathering information from employees but there are many things to consider for you to maximise what you achieve.

1) DO have a clear goal for your survey

Ensure you know exactly what you want the survey to achieve. Do you want to measure employee engagement? Do you want to gather opinions on new company values? Do you want to better understand learning and development requirements? Whatever your reason keep it in mind throughout your survey creation ensuring every question relates to the outcome you want to achieve. This will keep it focused and provide higher quality results.

2) DO NOT send a survey without the relevant leadership team agreeing to its value, goals and output

The leaders of whichever teams you are sending the employee survey to need to understand its purpose, benefit and outcome to ensure they promote it effectively to their teams. Any doubt or uncertainty will reduce the number of people that take part and potentially influence how they answer the questions.

3) DO have a clear understanding of what the employee survey results will contribute to

Will the output from the survey be the decisive factor for a business decision? Will it contribute to other opinions and/or research? While having a goal is a starting point you also need to be clear as to how the survey will contribute to that goal. This also needs to be known and agreed upon by the entire leadership team. Any confusion or disagreement will hamper the effectiveness of the results.

4) DO NOT send a survey without your employees knowing exactly what it is for

To maximise survey participation you need to explain why your employees should take time to fill in the survey. This is your time to “sell” the survey. Include your goal, how the results will be used and expected timescales for the results to be actioned.

5) DO stick to one purpose

So often employee surveys end up covering multiple goals. As a result, they either become very long or don’t ask sufficient questions to get a conclusive result. By having a single goal for every survey you and your employees will have a much clearer picture of what its purpose is.

6) DO NOT exclude employees from taking part in the survey

While you may not intentionally exclude people from answering the survey if they do not have direct access to the survey their opportunity will be limited. Either find an employee survey tool that can be sent and filled in via a mobile device or hold sessions in which those employees can have access to the survey. Without this inclusive approach, your results will never be accurate.

7) DO be consistent

If your employee survey will be repeated set specific times for the survey. We are naturally creatures of habit so this familiarity will help with completion rates. If relevant, also include how the results of the previous survey have influenced or changed the business. The reiteration of how the results were used will further build confidence that their time spent filling in the survey will be time worth spent.

8) DO NOT overcomplicate your survey

Keep your questions to the point. Unnecessary or confusing words in a question will increase the effort required to complete the survey. Avoid using any jargon and keep your wording as simple as possible. Make sure there are no double negatives and ensure every question only asks for one thing.

9) DO mix your questions up

Ensure your questions are varied enough to keep your employees interested. While you may want to ask five questions to really drill into what they think about one thing, your employees are likely to lose interest. Also, use a variety of answer choices such as multiple choice, radio buttons and sliding scales. This encourages the recipient to keep focused.

10) DO NOT include too many open-ended questions

While these are useful to give employees an opportunity to expand on a specific point, they also require more effort to answer. As such, many people are likely to skip the question or abandon the survey. They also make it more difficult when analysing the results of the survey. Due to the manual element of needing to review each answer, open-ended answers can become overlooked.

11) DO keep your employee survey questions neutral

Perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve because you are naturally thinking about how the responses will be used. But effective surveys ensure that every question is neutral. Leading questions that demonstrate opinion will influence the results. Employees will answer the question how they think it should be answered rather than giving their true opinion. For example, instead of asking “How would you rate the success of our leadership team?” ask “How would you rate the performance of our leadership team?”

12) DO NOT miss out answers in your multiple-choice questions

If using multiple choice take a step back from the question and ensure you include all potential answers. Think of it on a scale from worst to best and include a mid-way response that enables the employee to be neutral. If it isn’t clear cut include a ‘none of the above’ or ‘other’ option. As a survey participant, there is nothing more frustrating than not having the option to select the answer you have in mind.

13) DO ensure you and/or colleagues have the time to analyse the results

Recent research found that only 28% of those responsible for sending employee surveys are completely satisfied with how the survey results are used. Typically, this is often due to a lack of resources or time to fully delve into the results. It is also caused by a lack of buy in from leaders in the business who don’t listen to the insight gained from the survey. Therefore, ensure you have the time to tease out every bit of insight from your survey and ensure point 2 is fully completed before you embark on the survey.

14) DO not forget to communicate the results of the survey and the actions that will follow

The moment employees think survey results aren’t used or listened to is the moment your employee survey participation rate plummets. Once you have analysed the results ensure your share these with your employees and include the outcome of the results. What will happen next? What will change? What are the timescales?

15) DO consider the user experience

A survey that is clunky to complete or visually unappealing will increase abandon rates. You need to make it as easy and as pleasant an experience as possible. The right employee survey tool should do a lot of this for you but always take a moment to fill the survey in as an employee to ensure it engages you and flows naturally.

Find further tips on how to improve employee survey response rates here

The best employee survey questions

Employee surveys can cover a vast array of topics from learning and development to cultural alignment. To help you get the most out of your employee survey we have selected questions for the five most common types of employee surveys; professional development surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, employee wellbeing surveys, employee engagement surveys and company culture surveys. All of the questions listed have been chosen because of the quality of the output they generate.

For each closed-ended question consider your pre-defined answer set. Some may benefit from multiple choice answers while others may be better suited to a scale. This consideration combined with the dos and don’ts listed above will help ensure you gather highly valuable insight from your employees.

Questions for professional development employee surveys

Whether you want to understand what your employees need and expect to progress their careers with you, or you want to assess how effective your learning and development programmes are, these questions will help you get the answers.

  • Do you feel you have the knowledge and support necessary to successfully do your job?
  • Are your tasks and responsibilities clearly defined and achievable?
  • Does our organisation support you in your career progression?
  • On a daily basis, how challenged are you at work?
  • Can you visualise a career path at [organisation]?
  • How invested is your line manager in your success?
  • Do you see yourself working here in two years?
  • How well does your manager support your career development?
  • Do you utilise all of your strengths in your role?
  • What would you change about our learning and development programme?

Questions for employee satisfaction surveys

These are the questions to ask if you want to gauge overall employee satisfaction. They will collate the views, attitudes and perceptions of your employees. An employee satisfaction survey is often used if you suspect an element of dissatisfaction because the results can help to define what that dissatisfaction is.

  • How satisfied are you with your job requirements and targets?
  • Does your line manager value your opinion?
  • If you could, what’s the one thing that you would change about your job?
  • When was the last time your manager recognised your achievements at work?
  • How satisfied are you with your current compensation and benefits?
  • Do you feel your role impacts the future success of our company?
  • Do deadlines and workloads regularly cause you stress?
  • How effective do you think our leadership team is?
  • Are you confident in our organisation’s financial stability?
  • Hypothetically, if you were to quit tomorrow, what would your reason be?
  • If you were given the chance, would you reapply for your current job?
  • Do you look forward to starting work each morning?

Questions for employee wellbeing surveys

The following questions will help you understand the level of wellbeing within your organisation whilst also identifying if there are any opportunities to improve your wellbeing initiatives.

  • How would you rate your work-life balance?
  • How valued do you feel at work?
  • Do you have all the tools and equipment you need to fulfil your role adequately?
  • How comfortable do you feel providing feedback to your manager?
  • Does your physical workspace fulfil your needs?
  • How connected do you feel with your colleagues?
  • When something unexpected comes up in your work, do you usually know who to ask for help?
  • Do you believe you’ll be able to reach your full potential here?
  • Do you feel comfortable and relaxed at work?
  • How could your work environment be improved?

Questions for employee engagement surveys

These questions will help you understand employee engagement by delving into the levels of commitment and drive each employee has for the work they do at your organisation.

  • How transparent is our company when communicating company performance?
  • Are you proud to work for [organisation name]?
  • How inspired are you by the company vision and values?
  • How likely are you to recommend [organisation name] as a good place to work?
  • Do you understand the strategic goals of the organisation?
  • Do you feel like you are contributing to the strategic goals of the organisation?
  • Do you look forward to coming to work each morning?
  • How empowered do you feel at work?
  • How can we improve your engagement at work?
  • Do you believe we will reach our organisational objectives?
  • Are we a better organisation now than we were six months ago?
  • Within your role, do you believe you have a positive impact on the organisation?

Questions for company culture surveys

Is the way that your employees view their work environment aligned with your company culture vision? These questions will find out by helping you measure the effectiveness of your corporate values.

  • How comfortable do you feel contributing ideas and opinions at work?
  • Without looking them up, can you recite our company values?
  • How comfortable do you feel asking for help?
  • What three words would you use to describe our culture?
  • Do you believe we are achieving our company values?
  • Does [organisation name] adequately addresses discrimination and inequality?
  • Do you think [organisation name] is socially responsible?
  • To what extent do colleagues respect one another?
  • How well does the leadership team listen to your feedback?
  • What can we do to improve the company culture?
  • Do you think the results of this survey will positively impact the future of our organisation?
  • In your opinion, how does this organisation define success?

Do you have the right employee survey tool to conduct your employee surveys?

Our employee survey tool enables you to create bespoke employee surveys whenever you need them. Results are presented in real-time dashboards making it quick and easy for you to analyse the results. Thanks to the employee app, everyone in your organisation receives the survey no matter where or when they work. This, combined with the ability to communicate the results with everyone through the internal communications tool, makes VRAMP a very effective employee survey tool. Discover more here.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

Relevant resources

Categories
Blog Employee Engagement

Problems with Employee Engagement

10th November, 2021.

The 15 most common problems with employee engagement and how to fix them

Employee engagement is a huge job. Not only do you need to engage your employees, but you also need to keep abreast of any changes and manage your internal processes.

With so many plates to spin it is no surprise that only 22% of companies know what’s driving employee disengagement.

But when employee engagement has been proven to reduce staff turnover rates, improve productivity and increase profits it is essential that you iron out any issues quickly. If you needed any further motivation, a study by Bain found that an employee who feels engaged and inspired is 125% more productive than an employee who is just ‘satisfied.

With so many gains available when employee engagement rates increase let’s explore what prevents improvements in employee engagement and the solutions for overcoming those problems. When considering the most common problems, they can be categorised into three groups:

1) Your employees

Your employees work differently and think differently. With such an array of different minds, it can be very difficult to engage with everybody. But for those who are less engaged, there are a number of reasons that directly impact how they feel that could be holding them back.

2) Your business

The nature of your business and the managerial team leading the business all impact your employee engagement efforts. It is here that there will be numerous variables, such as a managerial change or a business acquisition, that could rock your perfectly aligned employee engagement boat at any time.

3) Your way of working

How you deliver your employee engagement strategy is often overshadowed by the two points above. But your processes and tools are just as important to the smooth running of your employee engagement strategy than the other two points.

This blog explores the five most common employee engagement problems for each category and how to fix them.

Your employees

Your employees are the very reason that you have an employee engagement strategy. They are the driving force of your organisation but inevitably there will always be stumbling blocks. Here are the most common challenges and how to overcome them.

1) A lack of recognition or development opportunities

If an employee doesn’t feel appreciated, they will rapidly become disengaged. Everyone needs to feel like they are contributing to the overall success of a company and 37% of employees state recognition as the most important motivator.

Recognition will come in various forms ranging from a simple “thank you” to a bonus scheme or benefits package. While you may already have some of these in place, are you consistent with your recognition?

Closely linked to recognition is the opportunity for progression. Career development is the number one reason why employees leave their job. If they cannot see an avenue for growth, whether that is a different job or training to improve their skills, they will become unmotivated and disengaged.

The solution: Your resolution to this problem will depend upon the extent of your existing approach. If you already have recognition and training & development programmes in place you may need to focus more on communication. If you do not yet have anything official, your first step will be to create recognition and development strategies. The list below will act as a checklist to ensure you have everything in place to give your employees the recognition and progression they need to feel engaged.

  • A clear recognition policy – all line managers need to know when recognition is warranted because any inconsistencies will cause frustration. Linking recognition with company values could be a good way of ensuring this consistency.
  • A culture of acknowledgement – a simple “thank you” goes a long way. With the right company culture, employees and line managers will naturally show their appreciation for a colleague who has helped them or gone above and beyond.
  • A training & development programme – if you don’t have a formal programme in place this should be your first port of call. A clear process for employees and line managers will be essential to support the growth of your employees.
  • Regular one-to-ones and annual reviews – it is important to set time aside for each employee to discuss their work. A study by Forbes found that 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. A structured meeting to be able to discuss performance and to raise concerns or desires is key to encouraging employees to have these conversations.
  • Ensure awareness – some employees may simply not know about your recognition programmes and training and development schemes. Regular communication about what is available will act as a constant reminder of what employees have available to them.

2) Day-to-day frustrations

A standalone frustration is barely given a thought but a frustration experienced day-in-day-out soon becomes a barrier to employee engagement.

This could be a laborious process, a dirty work environment or a disrespectful colleague. No matter how severe the frustration, if nothing is done about it, in time, it will cause disengagement.

The solution: The first step is to know about the frustrations. Employees must have an outlet; a means in which they can share their frustrations. Line managers should always make themselves available but some employees may not feel comfortable discussing their frustration with their direct report. Suggestion boxes, employee surveys and staff forums are all good alternatives to give employees additional channels to raise their frustrations.

Once you know the frustrations it will be important to take action. If those frustrations are likely to have impacted others in the organisation communicate the solution to them too.

There may be some instances where a resolution cannot be found. If that is the case communication is more important than ever. The moment employees think their employer isn’t listening is the moment you start to see a decline in employee engagement.

3) A lack of collaboration

If your employees lack interaction with colleagues this not only impacts how well they can do their job, it may also prevent innovation.

The more you can connect your employees the more they will take accountability, the more they will learn and the more they will achieve.

Ultimately, a collaborative way of working drives empowerment. An empowered workforce will feel able to make their own decisions, contribute more and achieve more. All of which breeds satisfaction and, in turn, employee engagement.

The solution: No matter how your employees work, it is essential that you find ways for them to collaborate. Whether that is an employee directory which people can search to find a colleague to help them, regular social events to encourage interactions or a central location to find forms and documents.

If you don’t have the processes in place to connect people, you may want to explore a software option to help you. Many employee engagement platforms include employee directories and document libraries to bring all your information and people together. You also have the added bonus of being able to send your internal communications and employee surveys through the same platform which will help you consolidate the number of systems you use.

4) Poor direction

The leadership experienced by your employees is a major influence on their engagement. If they do not have a clear direction, they will lose faith in their leadership and the business as a whole.

Employees need to know what is expected of them and those expectations need to be realistic, clear, and concise. They need to witness their manager displaying the same behaviours that are expected of them and they need confidence that their manager makes the right decisions.

Employees also require their managers to be consistent. Any fluctuations in their interactions will cause distrust.

The solution: Ultimately each of your managers should successfully carry out these duties:

  • Maintain the smooth running of their business function
  • Communicate transparently and effectively
  • Translate business goals into functional individual goals
  • Plan set goals and report on progress
  • Manage team projects and finances
  • Resolve problems and issues
  • Support employees on their growth aspirations
  • Ensure a safe and secure working environment for their staff

If you recognise gaps in any of your managerial team’s abilities these need to be addressed through training. This could be peer-to-peer training or through an external provider.

Even if your managers tick all these bullet points it may be worth exploring further training to maximise the way your managers interact with employees. The one thing that sets a good manager apart from an excellent manager is their ability to truly understand an employee. The exemplary managers identify what makes someone tick and what qualities they have and then convert this understanding into a way to harness their way of thinking and unique skills. This individualised approach harnesses what each person has to offer and uses it to drive business performance.

While this is a difficult skill to learn, if you are in the position to work with managers to develop the skill, you are likely to see a significant increase in employee engagement.

5) Not being heard

As much as employees want to hear relevant information relating to them, their jobs, and the business, they also want to be heard. Generally speaking, organisations have become very good at communicating out but often overlook how to effectively receive information.

One route often taken is employee surveys. But many confuse employee surveys with conversations. While they do a brilliant job of gathering opinions, the feedback received only relates to the questions asked and they don’t enable employees to discuss the topic. They also only represent a snapshot in time.

Gathering feedback in this way is now very alien to us. Societally we live in a world of immediacy in which we rarely have to wait. Therefore, within the workplace, if an employee has to wait to share their opinion it is likely to cause frustration and disengagement.

The solution: Give your employees a consistent voice. Find ways in which employees can share their ideas, opinions, and concerns.

Tools for employee engagement such as an employee communications platform often enable employees to like and comment on the internal communications that are shared. This constant opportunity to provide feedback means that thoughts are captured in the moment. Employees won’t forget to mention an idea or brew on a frustration.

While employee surveys are not the sole answer to two-way communications, they do still play a part. They enable you to drill deeper into specific topics and when used alongside other methods for gathering feedback, you will have a much more thorough and fluid two-way communication process.

The fundamental rule to remember with all feedback that you gather is to listen and respond. Employees will be buoyed by the opportunity to share their feedback but if they feel that information is falling on deaf ears they will disengage.

Your business

Your business is the reason employees took the job in the first place. Whether it was the role itself, the culture, the business proposition, or the stage of growth; something about the business will have attracted that individual to pursue their career with your organisation. But the business and the way it is run is often the cause of a lot of employee dissatisfaction. Here are five problems that frequently hamper employee engagement:

1) Not having leadership buy-in

Your employee engagement strategy will only be successful if your leadership team believe in it. Our ‘State of UK Employee Engagement’ survey found that 17% of UK businesses state a lack of leadership buy-in as their greatest challenge when undertaking employee communications and engagement.

If your leadership team disagree on the route your strategy is taking or the effectiveness of employee engagement your success will be hampered.

The solution: If you are aware of sceptics within your organisation you may want to create (or reshare) your business case for employee engagement. Depending on the level of scepticism it may also be beneficial to get all your leaders together to discuss your strategy.

Until you have a unified leadership team who agree with your approach and live and breath your strategy, you will not be able to maximise engagement. It is worth persevering until you reach this point.

2) A non-inclusive strategy

A business is only successful because of its people. That includes everyone from a caretaker to the chief executive. Every individual needs to be considered when executing an employee engagement strategy. The famous John F Kennedy interaction with the NASA janitor is a perfect case in point. When asked what he did for NASA the janitor responded with “I’m helping put a man on the moon”.

This is an organisation that had very effectively communicated with the janitor. He knew his purpose and how he was contributing to the business goals.

For many businesses, while they have plans to include everyone, the logistics often get in the way. Depending on their job role some employees can be “hard to reach” and subsequently get forgotten about or receive information secondhand.

The solution: First of all ensure you have an inclusive employee engagement plan. Do you have communications that accommodate everyone? Will those communications resonate with everyone and help them understand how they contribute to the wider business goals?

The next step is to look at your processes for communicating? Do you reach all employees effectively? The word ‘effectively’ is key here. Does everyone receive information in a timely manner? Are you confident that messages aren’t lost in translation? So often the hard-to-reach employees, such as those on the frontline, receive information through a printed email put on a noticeboard or via a team briefing. These methods of communication do not guarantee a message has been received as you intended it.

Thankfully technology is now able to plug this gap, breaking down the barriers that have historically been in place. With an employee engagement platform, you can send communications directly to every single employee through the use of mobile apps. Where or when they work no longer needs to interfere with what information they receive and when they hear it.

3) A corporate culture that fights against your employee engagement strategy

The culture of a business can severely hamper employee engagement. Is there an expectation for employees to work beyond their contracted hours? Do some line managers struggle to instil open and honest communication channels? Is a lack of punctuality common?

The definition of company culture is the shared beliefs and behaviours that guide the actions of all team members. If your organisation has a dysfunctional culture that doesn’t emulate positive traits it will impact the levels of engagement you can achieve. Something as simple as not respecting an employee’s time and regularly turning up to meetings late will have an impact on that individual’s engagement.

The solution: Improving your company culture is a big task, but if you recognise downfalls in your culture you must tackle it if you want to see an increase in employee engagement. You need to create an environment of trust, alignment, collaboration and resilience.

Your starting point will need to be your leaders. You will need to have an open and honest conversation with them about your organisation’s culture. They will need to support you in understanding what is and isn’t working culturally before you can embark on remodelling your culture.

When you know what needs to change, once again this needs to start with your leaders. They need to become advocates who live and breathe the culture. Only once that example is set can you expect employees to adjust their behaviours.

Then it’s all down to communication. An effective communication strategy that outlines what you have done and why will help to accelerate the adoption of your new positive culture.

It won’t change overnight but your efforts will be worth it in the long term.

4) Poor alignment to company objectives

If your employees are disconnected from your company objectives it is often due to a lack of understanding. While company objectives are discussed heavily within the boardroom, the passion and belief displayed behind closed doors are often lost by the time it is communicated to the rest of the workforce.

Another common downfall is that employees understand the objectives but do not think they are achievable. This can be more damaging than if the objectives have been miscommunicated because of the negative connotations. Negativity spreads quicker than positivity so one person’s opinion can quickly spread to become the opinion of many.

The solution: Your employees need to not just understand the reason behind the objectives but also what part they play in meeting those objectives. When communicating your objectives, rather than doing a mass communication to everyone, break it down into different teams and explain specifically what it means to them.

It’s also important to remember that while objectives are set once a year, they last for that entire 12-month period. Communicating with them at the beginning of the year isn’t enough. Your employees need to know progress along the way which will also act as a gentle reminder of the objectives. By keeping employees connected to your objectives throughout the year they are far more likely to buy into them, and to your company as a whole.

5) Significant change

As businesses grow and develop change will always happen. That could be a change in the management team, a change of business direction, an acquisition, or the introduction of a new system. Whatever the change it is likely to unsettle some of your employees. It is human nature to resist change so this is to be expected. Therefore, during any period of change, we must work particularly hard to maintain employee engagement.

The solution: it’s important to understand the reasons behind people’s fear of change. This article neatly summarises the emotions people may be feeling and helps to put their reactions into perspective. By taking a moment to appreciate how your employees may feel during a time of change you can then create a communication plan that supports them step-by-step through the change.

For every change communication you create remember to include information about what is changing, how that change will affect them, what is expected of them and what the next steps will be. By following this pattern with every communication you will help your employees adjust quicker and reduce the risk of disengaging them.

Your way of working

The way your employees feel and perceive things and the way your business functions will directly influence employee engagement. However, there are also a number of aspects within the HR/communications team that could be inhibiting your employee engagement efforts. When you are working so hard to drive up employee engagement you need to ensure that your ship is sailing at full throttle. The most common challenges our customers come to us with are:

1) Unrealistic expectations

These unrealistic expectations could be on yourself or your team.

Often this is an unrealistic expectation of time; trying to squeeze too many tasks into not enough time. This is a very common challenge with 38% of employee engagement professionals stating time as their biggest challenge in our recent State of UK Employee Engagement survey.

The survey also found that over half of those responsible for employee engagement spend less than 25% of their time on this function. With so many plates to spin at any given time, it is easy to see how expectations can increase beyond capability.

The solution: If you and/or your team carry out employee engagement activities as part of another role it would be advisable to have a discussion with the relevant managers to discuss the balance. You may want to create a business case to increase the hours spent on employee engagement. Or you may just need to define the lines between the roles more clearly.

You may also find value in reviewing everyone’s roles within your team. Does everyone understand the part they play? Do they know what their responsibilities are and the deadlines that sit alongside their duties? Do they agree that these are attainable? Are you utilising all their skills effectively or would it be beneficial to switch some of the responsibilities?

If time is particularly tight with no immediate solution, could you recruit some advocates from the wider business? Even if it is to help promote a single engagement initiative, their passion for what you do could be really beneficial.

2) Silo working

Silos are very common within employee engagement teams. They are often caused because of a dispersed workforce or individuals having multiple job roles.

As such, tasks may be owned by just one individual or data may only be accessible by a single team that has multiple other priorities that sit above your request.

Whatever the silo you experience, it will be causing inefficiencies, frustrations and open you up to risk.

The solution: Collaboration! By introducing a more collaborative way of working you will no longer have a need for silos.

If multiple people work on different tasks consider adopting a task management system in which everyone in the team can view all of the tasks and who is responsible for them. This will give you a single source of truth that will provide confidence and a more efficient way of working.

If certain skills sit with just one employee explore training and development opportunities for other individuals so you always have at least two people capable of any given task.

If you experience silos within your processes, such as a bottleneck when accessing data, is there another way this could be done? Are there alternative systems or integration options that would simplify the process? Are there other teams or colleagues that could support with the project? Or do you just need a formalised process to ensure you receive the information in a timely fashion?

3) Limited budget

Employee engagement is often last to receive a budget. It’s a relatively new business function and as such, often goes unmissed during budget planning. Instead, those responsible for employee engagement often put forward a business case for specific expenditure as it is needed rather than having their own budget to manage throughout the year.

In other situations, the budget simply doesn’t match aspirations restricting what is achievable.

The solution: Push hard to get an allotted budget for employee engagement. As is the case for any ‘new’ budget, this will be a difficult task. Anyone in finance will be reluctant to hand money over when there is no hard proof that there will be a Return on Investment (ROI)!

Use as much evidence as you can to prove your case. Whether that is an initiative that previously had funding that has had a positive impact or a use case from another business that is representative of your aspirations. The more figures you can provide to evidence the benefits gained from having the budget the more likely you are to be successful. You may find our guide on ‘Building the business case for employee engagement’ useful during this process.

If you feel a larger budget is required, once again evidence is your answer. Use the budget you have but ensure you measure the success of that investment every step of the way. Once you can show the ROI you are far more likely to be able to negotiate a larger budget.

Whilst you work to increase your funding you will become very skilled at making the most of what you have! But there are many others in exactly the same boat so build connections with these people. Explore what communities you could join to exchange ideas and tips.

4) The wrong tools for the job

Due to the resource implication and fear of change, it can be easy to stick with a tool even if it isn’t meeting all your needs. You may customise the system to get it doing what you need but there are inevitably always workarounds or compromises. These workarounds open greater possibilities for human error and over time the workarounds become more and more cumbersome.

If you have an established employee engagement strategy you may also be suffering from having too many solutions. Jumping from one system to another will have a knock-on effect on productivity. You may also find it difficult to compare data from two systems because of the way the information is collated or displayed.

The solution: As a team, audit your processes and systems. It’s important to take this step back from your day-to-day roles and consider if the systems you use are providing the best outcome. While they may have been the best tools for the job two years ago there may be better solutions available to you now. Likewise, two years ago one of your solutions may not have had the same level of capability it has now. Upon review, you may find that you could easily consolidate your systems.

Once you have carried out an evaluation, schedule in the next one. By keeping these review sessions regular you will keep on top of your needs and encourage your team to stay curious, always exploring how improvements could be achieved.

5) A lack of valuable insight

Our recent study found that 48% of UK businesses do not monitor the effectiveness of their internal comms. Further to this, another study identified that only 55% of companies regularly diagnose their employee engagement data.

That’s approximately half of UK businesses that are running employee engagement tactics without any insight into to how effective they are. If you too lack useful insight, this is a quick win that could transform your employee engagement efforts.

The solution: If you have unused data your first step is to study that information to identify what it tells you. Based on this research you can identify any data gaps; considering what information would really help inform your strategy.

If the data you have available is limited you may want to look at a software tool that could help you collate and interpret more information. Tools such as employee engagement software will enable you to send internal communications and employee surveys whilst also collating data from each activity you undertake. Many of these software solutions analyse the data for you, automatically providing comparisons and key performance measures. This could save you significant time and give you greater confidence in your decision making.

However, you choose to record and analyse your data, as a bare minimum we recommend you measure the following:

  • Open rates, and preferably engagement rates, for each internal communication that you send.
  • Employee engagement levels per team and company over time.
  • Employee absenteeism and staff turnover rates.

With this information at your fingertips you will not only be able to better inform your future actions, but also help to evidence your success. This evidence can then help to drive future initiatives and funding.

daniel wright

Daniel Wright

Marketing Assistant

With a desire to grow personally and a wish to improve working lives through employee engagement, I am thrilled to be part of building an internal comms system that connects everyone.

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what is employee engagement

Employee Engagement?

What is Employee Engagement? To answer the question “What is employee engagement?” let’s turn to the famous visit President John F Kennedy made

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Employee Engagement Explorers

26th October 2021

What kind of employee engagement explorer are you?

Employee engagement is a relatively new concept in the world of business. We’ve only been using the term “employee engagement” for 30 or so years and as such, many organisations are still finding their feet when it comes to realising the benefit of employee engagement.

Only 25% of employers have an active engagement strategy and 48% do not monitor the effectiveness of their internal comms (Source: State of UK Employee Engagement Report).

What about you and your organisation? Are you at the beginning of your employee engagement journey or is employee engagement engrained in your culture?

Let’s find out. Which of the following biographies best matches your situation?

Cultivating Crusader

Are you a Cultivating Crusader?

You are passionate about employee engagement and aware of the benefits it can bring to your business. However, your leadership team either do not see these benefits in the same light as you or always prioritise other things first.

As a consequence, you have limited time to spend on employee engagement strategies and tactics. Your existing internal communications function adequately but you get very little, if any, insight on how effective each of those communications are. Employee surveys are also inconsistent with some results being poorly utilised.

Conclusion

As a Cultivating Crusader, you are at the start of your employee engagement journey. But the good news is that you are far from alone; a huge proportion of UK businesses are in exactly the same place. Luckily for your organisation they have you. All it takes is one passionate individual, some solid evidence and a strong business case to get your employee engagement strategies underway.

Have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement to understand more about how you compare to other UK organisations and what you can do to raise employee engagement up your business agenda.

Are you a Purposeful Pioneer?

Your adventure has already begun but you have many routes still to explore.

While you have an employee engagement strategy of sorts this needs evolving and refining.

To date not all your employees know there is an employee engagement strategy and your leadership team have differing opinions on both the importance of employee engagement and the most suitable ways to engage your employees. As a result, you are pulled in many different directions. You are also very aware that there are far more efficient ways of working which you get frustrated by.

Conclusion

You are in somewhat of a catch 22 – until you are able to prove the value of your employee engagement efforts and convert any remaining sceptics, you will have limited time and resources. But whilst at a frustrating point in your journey you are making progress.

Have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement to discover how you can convert your frustrations into an established employee engagement strategy that starts to bring real benefits to your organisation. From the report, you will also be able to benchmark yourself against other UK organisations. During which you will probably recognise that as a Purposeful Pioneer you are actually doing really well. Many organisations are much further behind on their journey than you!

Purposeful Pioneer

Purposeful Pioneer

Are you a Purposeful Pioneer?

Your adventure has already begun but you have many routes still to explore.

While you have an employee engagement strategy of sorts this needs evolving and refining.

To date not all your employees know there is an employee engagement strategy and your leadership team have differing opinions on both the importance of employee engagement and the most suitable ways to engage your employees. As a result, you are pulled in many different directions. You are also very aware that there are far more efficient ways of working which you get frustrated by.

Conclusion

You are in somewhat of a catch 22 – until you are able to prove the value of your employee engagement efforts and convert any remaining sceptics, you will have limited time and resources. But whilst at a frustrating point in your journey you are making progress.

Have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement to discover how you can convert your frustrations into an established employee engagement strategy that starts to bring real benefits to your organisation. From the report, you will also be able to benchmark yourself against other UK organisations. During which you will probably recognise that as a Purposeful Pioneer you are actually doing really well. Many organisations are much further behind on their journey than you!

Valiant Voyager

Are you a Valiant Voyager

You have been exploring what employee engagement can do for your organisation for some time.

You have the luxury of a leadership team that believes there is real value in having an employee engagement strategy. Subsequently, your strategy is well known throughout your organisation and you are able to reach most of your employees.

However, as your employee engagement strategy has evolved, inefficiencies have crept in. There may be clunky processes, multiple systems doing similar jobs, silo working or the requirement to duplicate some tasks. You also wish you had greater insight to better inform your future engagement strategies.

Conclusion

While you have inefficiencies to overcome you already have a broad understanding of what needs to change. Now is your opportunity to take stock and ensure the next steps you take will cater for ongoing expansion of your employee engagement strategy.

For more guidance on how to move forward with your employee engagement strategy have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement. As well as guidance for progressing through your employee engagement journey you will also be able to compare yourself against other UK businesses.

Are you a Game-changing Guardian?

Congratulations. You have been on a journey of discovery but you now have a solid employee engagement strategy that is effectively engaging your employees.

Your leadership team are invested, you work fluidly with others in your organisation and you have all the data and insight you need to make confident decisions.

Since inception, your employee engagement score has increased and employee engagement is now widely ingrained in your company culture.

Conclusion

You have every right to feel a little smug! You have overcome many hurdles to get to this point.

But once you have given yourself a pat on the back remember that while your adventure has reached your target destination, new routes could open up and new hurdles could form. You need to keep an ear to the ground at all times whilst also looking for opportunities to further solidify your strategy.

Have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement for further guidance on how you can continually improve your employee engagement strategy. You’ll also find out whether your employee engagement strategy is on par with the best performing UK organisations.

Game-changing Guardian

Game-changing Guardian

Are you a Game-changing Guardian?

Congratulations. You have been on a journey of discovery but you now have a solid employee engagement strategy that is effectively engaging your employees.

Your leadership team are invested, you work fluidly with others in your organisation and you have all the data and insight you need to make confident decisions.

Since inception, your employee engagement score has increased and employee engagement is now widely ingrained in your company culture.

Conclusion

You have every right to feel a little smug! You have overcome many hurdles to get to this point.

But once you have given yourself a pat on the back remember that while your adventure has reached your target destination, new routes could open up and new hurdles could form. You need to keep an ear to the ground at all times whilst also looking for opportunities to further solidify your strategy.

Have a look at our report – The State of UK Employee Engagement for further guidance on how you can continually improve your employee engagement strategy. You’ll also find out whether your employee engagement strategy is on par with the best performing UK organisations.

No matter where you are on your journey, the fact that you are reading this would suggest that you are as passionate about employee engagement as we are. You are on the road to improved staff satisfaction, increased productivity, greater customer advocacy and higher profits.

At VRAMP we are proud to play a part in this journey. We help our customers implement their employee engagement strategy through our employee communications platform. Our customers can create impactful internal comms, encourage two-way communication and gain insight on content performance and employee engagement levels. To find out more about how our internal communications tools and employee engagement surveys could improve the working lives of your employees, request a demo today.

author-rachel-stidworthy

Rachel Stidworthy

Marketing Manager

With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve so much more when we work together towards the same goals. 

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UK employee engagement?

7th October 2021.

How good is the UK at employee engagement?

Employee engagement is on a journey in the UK. The term “employee engagement” only started to enter discussions 40 years ago and the concept of having a business function responsible for employee engagement is an even newer concept.

For the organisations that have embraced employee engagement and weaved it into their culture and business strategy, they are now reaping the rewards. These statistics from Engage for Success  speak for themselves:

  • Businesses with engagement scores in the top quartile had twice the annual net profit of those in the bottom quartile.
  • Organisations in the top quartile of employee engagement scores had 18% higher productivity than those in the bottom quartile.
  • Organisations with high levels of engagement have 40% lower staff turnover rates than companies with lower levels of engagement.
  • Organisations with top quartile engagement scores average 12% higher customer advocacy.

But despite the very clear business benefits of employee engagement, we are still presented with statistics that paint a bleak picture for much of the UK workforce.

Driven by the statistics above, we wanted to find out just how good, or bad, UK businesses are at employee engagement. More specifically, we wanted to understand how widespread employee engagement is as a standalone business function. Is it still predominately the big brand organisations that are the masters of employee engagement or has the ethos trickled down into smaller organisations?

To find out we embarked on a survey in which we interviewed over 200 internal communication professionals.

The results show that the evolution of employee engagement still has a long way to go in much of the UK.

For example, our research found that 48% of UK organisations do not monitor the effectiveness of their internal comms. That’s almost half of UK organisations that carry out internal communications completely blind with absolutely no idea how those messages are being received.

The research did however find some glimmers of hope. Employee engagement is now more widespread with many mid-sized organisations starting to consider how it can benefit their businesses. There are also some sectors that shine much brighter than their counterparts.

Have a look at the report – UK Employee Engagement: The State of Play – to see how your organisation compares. The report also includes guidance on how you can overcome the blockers that are preventing you from evolving your employee engagement strategy.

daniel wright

Daniel Wright

Marketing Assistant

With a desire to grow personally and a wish to improve working lives through employee engagement, I am thrilled to be part of building an internal comms system that connects everyone.

Relevant resources