Human resources departments have come a long way over the past few years, but not unlike the soccer coach who brought her team to finals last year, the pressure is on to do even better this year. Employees are holding their leaders accountable for every commitment they make. Successful organizations must trend-spot by holding two-way dialogue with their employees and stay abreast of what the competition is doing.
Human resources can use the levers in their organization, from employees and communications to leadership, to drive a culture that makes everyone feel a sense of belonging and connection. The best employee experiences prioritize connection, which is a top driver of engagement. Here are five strategies you can employ today.
1. Prioritize Mobile
Your employees engage with brands and friends on mobile applications. Their experience with their employer should maximize this trend. You likely already have your payroll and benefits available on mobile, and there is so much more you can do. Your internal channels should be available on their phones so they can chat, join meetings and access your intranet. There are several platforms you can use to share company news, employee news and encourage social sharing.
Go a little further with your email notices. Typically you have just seconds to get your recipient’s attention, so your emails should be visual, mobile-friendly and concise. If you are using video, ensure it is mobile-friendly as well, and keep it under one minute long. Use your current external channels to feature employees and work life at your organization. Similar to watching an Instagram story from their friends, they want to see casual and fun interactions from their team. A good approach is social ambassadors, who will volunteer to take photos at events and curate your content.
2. Empower Internal Influencers
This year, the trend continues where employees want to direct their own experiences. You could have the best HR strategy in the world, but it is the employees who drive its success. Take advantage of that by identifying internal influencers to help drive and measure the success of your programs. This serves two purposes: those influencers you identify feel recognition, and they feel empowered to engage with their colleagues as a leader.
Your influencers can help drive the adoption of key programs and create enthusiasm for participation in company events. They can also provide key insights to help you pivot your programs. Include them in regular meetings so they can share their voices and feedback and maximize their scope.
3. Humanize Leaders
Employee activism is only getting stronger this year, and while not every organization can align with the flatter organization trends, employees want to know who their leaders are. The recent departures of high-profile executives only serves to increase this curiosity. Develop programs for all leaders to create conversation. Town halls serve their purpose and can be amplified with fireside chats and “ask me anything” hours, either live or through your chat channel.
Encourage your leaders to revisit their bios and share more of who they are beyond the black and white of their resume. They should share their values, outside interests and reasons for choosing the field they are in. Encourage your communications team to help them understand the value of storytelling in all communications to employees. Include leaders with employees on in-service days to show alignment and encourage connectivity.
4. Get Visual
Written content is no longer king. The most highly engaging communications are visual. You don’t need a full studio to achieve great results. Start by defining your visual brand guidelines. Set the parameters for how employees and leaders can get photos and videos when attending events. You can achieve a great result with your phone or an iPad using a tripod and a lapel mic.
Start a customer success series where you can create short videos you can use internally as well as externally showcasing the employee and the customer success story. Use infographics and polls in your communications. For large rollouts, employ visual storyboards. Similar to the content your employees read on their phones, your employee-facing content should be equally visual.
5. Voice Of Employee Program
Employees are talking, and our job is to harness their voices to drive organizational success. Successful Voice of Employee programs are designed with multiple channels that ensure every voice is heard, and their views can shape the decisions the company makes.
Online engagement surveys are one way, but why not consider a graffiti wall using a whiteboard anyone can write on? Create a space where you can have an idea lab, where any employee can jump in and share their big idea, either through a chat channel or a physical space. Leader forums are also very successful: Leaders bring big issues or opportunities to an open-invite meeting for anyone to join in. Get creative.
A colleague of mine recently shared the famous proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” By harnessing your employees, leaders, peers and colleagues, you can build an incredible experience for your organization, including for yourself. Remember, keep it fun, and make it intentional.