How an effective mobile communications platform and engagement solution can facilitate two-way internal communications, boost employee engagement and deliver better business results.
Driving employee engagement is at the top of the priority list for communications leaders in 2019, according to a new report from Gartner. The study showed that the engagement mission is even more important to comms leadership than developing content strategy and message management—the two functions that have traditionally been at the top of the communications agenda.
While engagement is certainly critical at every level of a company, communications professionals need to be particularly concerned about their role in driving engagement across their entire organization—at every level and for every role and employee location. This is because research has proven that communicating effectively internally is linked to higher engagement levels among employees. Consider these facts:
- Effective internal communication leads to a stronger culture. A solid workplace culture is certainly a major element in the employee experience (EX), and according to CultureIQ, the vast majority (nearly 90 percent) of employees at organizations with strong cultures, feel listened to by their senior leaders—something that can only occur with strong internal communication.
- Internal communication helps people understand their role. When employees understand how their own role fits into the business, it actually nearly quadruples the percentage—from 23 percent to 91 percent—of those who are engaged and willing to work toward the company’s success. This also improves a company’s culture in a virtuous cycle.
- When employees feel heard, they perform better. A recent report from Salesforce found that when employees feel heard at work—which can only happen through effective internal communication—they’re close to five times as likely to “feel empowered to do their best work.”
- A healthy culture leads to better business results. Positive workplace cultures lead to positive EX, which triggers a snowball effect of improved productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability. Organizations with highly engaged employees have been shown through employee surveys to lead to 30 percent higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Two-Way Comms Is Key
How exactly can communications leaders improve internal communications within their ranks to reap the benefits from this snowball effect, including the better engagement that tops their agenda? The answer can be found in thinking about aspects of a healthy workplace culture, which include ensuring that all employees have the chance to feel:
- Included and “in the loop” when it comes to receiving and sharing information and resources
- Valued by their employer and peers
- Listened to as though their feedback matters
- Educated about the company’s mission and their part in the larger picture of their company’s goals
This is where the communications role can make it happen. Communications leaders can check off all of these agenda items simply by finding the best way to facilitate transparent and continuous two-way communication between employees and their managers, as well peer to peer. Traditional, limited read solutions to exchange in-house information (such as email, intranets, newsletters, or employee notice boards) may have been enough to move companies toward these goals in the past, but no longer. Today’s digitally driven world—combined with the fact that employees in so many industries are today part of the “deskless,” virtually based workforce—necessitates a pivot toward away from these more outdated technologies. The problem with these older communication tools is that they can’t reliably reach the entire workforce, while mobile-enabled technology can actually help comms teams achieve the above internal communications goals.
Failing to make the shift to a mobile communications platform means that may be leaving a lot of your workforce cut off from the information flow, since deskless workers often have no corporate email address, or even access to a company computer. When a portion—and for many companies, it’s a significant chunk or even the majority of their workers—are deskless, that’s a large contingent that you are at risk of alienating.
Any internal communications strategy that doesn’t account for its deskless staff isn’t creating a truly inclusive environment, which can damage the health of the entire culture (and as noted above, then trickles down to negatively impact engagement). Consider the reality that if the tools you choose for internal communication achieve the opposite of what employees want—that instead of feeling heard and in the know, they end up out of the loop and disconnected—then disengagement is what you’ll get. Poor internal communication can quickly lead to confusion, low morale, and resentment of the organization and managers rather than support for it.
This is not just conjecture—many workplace problems clearly do link back to poor internal communication:
- Fierce Inc. reports that 86 percent of workers identify poor internal communication as the culprit behind snafus and problems that occur in the workplace.
- Gallup found that half of U.S. workers are confused about what their manager expects of them at work, which leads to lower engagement levels. The study’s authors emphasized that “Expectations, or lack thereof, have the power to make or break worker engagement,” adding that “After zeroing in on the right targets with clear expectations, managers can unleash employees’ greatest performance by focusing on their strengths.” Gallup’s findings also revealed that regardless of their age or career stage, employees crave clear expectations—which can only be achieved by having reliable methods for clear internal communication.
- A study by Psychometrics found that the majority of employees believe their leaders should do a better job in three realms that all involve internal communications: communicating expectations (71 percent), listening to employees’ opinions (62 percent), and giving recognition (52 percent).
Learn More: Empowering HR Leaders with Technology to Improve Engagement and Retention
Mobilizing Internal Dialogue
All of the above issues can be improved by the companywide implementation of a mobile communications platform. A mobile platform gives people of all levels, roles, and working locations in a company—whether office-based workers, senior managers, sales reps in the field, or warehouse employees—a chance to give and receive information and share their feedback and views. Such a solution can even allow managers to recognize and reward people publicly on the platform, and to take the pulse of individuals, teams, and divisions through gamified surveys and polls. High-Level mobile communications and engagement platform can even help companies’ measure engagement levels over time so that the comms team can perform relevant messaging tune-ups as needed to keep EX high.
Mobile technology closes the communication gap that otherwise can develop between office-based staff and deskless employees by providing the most seamless, flexible, and comprehensive reach to achieve inclusive two-way communication up, down, and around the company. While other communication tools—even digital ones—may enable employees to share their opinions in one direction, it’s not going to boost engagement if it’s just a one-way street where they can’t receive feedback or start a true internal dialogue.
Keep in mind that once the communications team adopts a new mobile platform for internal communications, the job isn’t done—comms leaders must then take the lead to utilize the tool and set an example, making themselves available at the management level to create a two-way stream of information and feedback. There’s an added reason why it’s important for communications leaders to take this approach, and that’s because it will help them solve yet another one of their biggest issues—overcoming digital communication challenges—which is also in the top 3 priorities for comms leaders this year, according to Gartner. By targeting an effective mobile communications platform and engagement solution, it’s possible to address two of this year’s top three priorities with a single tool, helping facilitate two-way internal communication digitally and boosting engagement while doing so.
Learn More: 3 Ways to Keep Your Q3 Performers Engaged in Q4