So, you’ve finally got the go ahead for employee engagement. You’ve been given the chance to create and drive real change in your company; your plans have been brainstormed, written and finalised, you’ve got buy in from your boss, and you’re feeling really positive about the changes you hope to see in the coming year.
Perhaps you’ve hired an external agency or consultancy to help you with your plans for change, or maybe you’re an engagement expert who’s well on their way to creating the next Great Place to Work.
Whatever your angle or approach is, there’s one thing that’s an integral part of the process that’s often forgotten about until the last minute – communicating your initial ideas to your colleagues, right from the word go.
It sounds pretty simple, and many of you reading this will be thinking we’re mad- after all, how could anyone forget the fundamental starting point of successful engagement?! The truth is, with many organisations still handing engagement duties to pre-existing departments such as HR or Marketing, there’s often too much to do – and time is just too short to do the job justice. So, on top of other duties that form part of the usual day job, employees tasked with taking care of engagement find themselves overwhelmed – and the finer details can be overlooked.
It’s easy to be so wrapped up in the strategy, surveys and planning, that general communication to your colleagues slides further down the to do list. With so much going on, it’s hard to find the time to even think about putting an email together – let alone actually writing the damn thing, and ensuring that it’s relevant and interesting enough to make people sit up and take notice.
So, how can you communicate the work you’re doing to your colleagues with as little fuss as possible? We’ve put together a few top tips to get you started:
Ditch the fancy dress
Don’t dress up your emails and communications to your colleagues. You don’t need to use over the top corporate lingo to sell your ideas to them – in fact, the opposite is often true. Your colleagues will appreciate a genuine communication, that’s come from you – they certainly won’t warm to something that resembles a brochure, full of corporate jargon. Speak to them in your emails and communications as you’d speak to them in person – remember, you’re just letting them know what’s going on.
Don’t fill your emails with confusing language and terminology. Remember, some of your colleagues won’t be familiar with employee engagement, so you really need to make sure you’re explaining it clearly. Set out your aims, explain your plans, and help them to understand why you’re bothering.
Don’t write to yourself
Remember who you’re speaking to! You might think an email or communication is perfect, but you’re not speaking to yourself. Even if you understand every word, it doesn’t mean others will be as receptive as you, or find the same style as accessible as you do. We’re naturally biased towards our own writing style, but other might find the structure of your comms difficult to digest.
You can test this before you send out a communication – just ask a couple of your trusted colleagues to give it a once over and feedback their thoughts.
Your communication should be a way of explaining your ideas to your colleagues, helping them to understand what engagement means for them, and gaining their support for your future plans. Don’t tell them what’s happening – ask them. Ask for their feedback and opinion, their insight and ideas. Successful engagement is collaborative, strategic and open – so make sure that’s the impression you’re giving to your colleagues.
Plan your timing with as much effort as you write the communication itself. Pay attention to the habits of your colleagues – when are they at their desks with their head in their emails? When are they busy doing other things? Are they always in the pub on Wednesdays between 12 and 2? Make sure you’re sending your communication at a time when they’re most likely to pay attention – or risk ending up back at square one.