Although work environment changes due to the pandemic have shown that companies can function with a large part of their workforce working remotely, questions remain about how to effectively support employee engagement and communication. Employee communication is not just integral to the employee experience because it drives engagement, but it also contributes to employee satisfaction, productivity, collaboration and ultimately your business’s success.
Let’s begin with this question, “How do you create effective communication channels for employees when you’re not face-to-face?” There was an adage I learned when I first became a manager, communicate face-to-face as much as you can. Those were the days when your main communication options were limited to email and face-to-face meetings. That’s not to say that face-to-face meetings are outdated, but today’s reality for communicating with employees is much different and more challenging. Attitudes have changed, and — thankfully — the tools to communicate have multiplied. Let’s take a look how remote work transitions are impacting CEO thinking and decision-making.
Rethinking the Ways We Communicate
KPMG did a survey with CEOs on the pandemic’s impact on business operations. The most striking outcome was that the pandemic has forced CEOs to rethink how they work and communicate within their organizations. Learning to operate in a remote or hybrid work environment is certainly more complicated, and this new work model has challenged CEOs to reevaluate business norms.
- Three quarters of the CEOs surveyed said they would continue to invest in digital collaboration and communication tools because these tools help fill communication and engagement gaps.
- Interestingly, 73% of CEOs found that when hiring, a remote or hybrid working environment is more attractive to perspective employees. The employee experience is typically a key factor for people in deciding on new career choices.
- 69% of CEOs said they would be down-sizing office space to save money. That’s a clear indication that some employees are never returning to work in the office.
- And 68% of CEOs, when challenged to communicate with a remote workforce, have retooled their communication strategy with new communication methods and modes.
But some key challenges remain for companies, including how to instill and sustain a corporate culture along with company values.
Information Consumption is Changing
Now let’s switch our discussion from management to employees. Before we can understand how to facilitate employee communication, we must first understand how information is consumed in today’s work environment. Recent studies show most people check their email or instant messages every 6 minutes. It’s no wonder that information consumption is up 500% over the past three decades. Even though more information is being consumed, information overload is a real problem. Given the rate of information consumption, the way information is delivered needs to change.
There are new expectations from employees on how information should be received. Employees born after 1980, for example, have been connected to technology most of their lives and have higher expectations for communication. Employees today want to receive information when and where they want it, in a familiar format that doesn’t overwhelm them. They want to personalize information flow and limit it to what’s important for their specific role. Since employees use multiple devices to access information, they also want to be able to consume information across any of their devices.
To summarize more concisely, information flow should be frequent, multi-channel, multi-format, and most importantly continuous and measured. This allows you to be more effective in reaching employees where and when they are ready — in a way that resonates with them.
What’s the Difference Between Engagement and Collaboration?
Employee communication is not just management providing information to employees. There is a much broader spectrum of communication and exchange in the today’s work environment. This spectrum covers everything from employee engagement to employee collaboration, whether it’s 2-way communication between employees and management, or a team project facilitating communication between team members. The one thing we need to recognize is that engagement and collaboration success is completely dependent on effective communication channels.
Employee communication is essential for attaining organizational goals and for achieving the many daily successes that add up to positive business outcomes. You can divide communication up into two components: engagement and collaboration. Employee engagement is about keeping employees focused on the right goals, making sure they understand the company values and practices, and providing the training and tools necessary for them to get their job done.
Employee collaboration, on the other hand, is about work management, teams and the many interactions we have both inside and outside the company. When you look at engagement and collaboration, these are fundamental business drivers for organizational success. These business drivers have a substantial impact on the employee experience. Studies show that organizations that are good at engagement and collaboration have far less staff turnover, higher productivity, and higher profitability.
Solutions for Real Communication Problems
A European cable manufacturer, which employees about 5,000 people, was frustrated with their employee intranet. Their existing site was outdated, static and didn’t generate the employee interaction the company desired. Their objective was to provide a new intranet portal or employee information hub which empowers two-way communication, enables a personalized experience, and provides a multi-channel approach.
A global package delivery company with more than 100,000 workers, 70% which are deskless and highly mobile, needed a collaboration platform to increase two-way employee communication, ideation, and faster decision-making. Management wanted to start their collaboration efforts by soliciting ideas about improving peak season deliveries for the upcoming holiday season.
A multinational engineering and architectural firm needed to coordinate with over 700 employees and thousands of construction projects to improve coordination for solving complex design problems, finding specialized expertise quickly, sharing best practices, and ensuring customer deadlines are met.
What do all these scenarios have in common? The need to improve communication, collaborative work management, and employee engagement to get work done more effectively. Effective communication and collaborative problem-solving requires a framework with ready-made tools and templates to support best practices. HCL Connections delivered a solution for all three companies to solve their diverse business challenges.
With more and more employees working remotely, it’s more important than ever to provide collaborative tools to meet these communication challenges. HCL Connections delivers a collaborative framework to keep your employees engaged by creating a personalized, well-designed and mobile workspace, with role-based content and team structure to increase communication and productivity.
If you are interested in hearing more about how HCL Connections can solve your communication challenges, view our recent webinar “Transforming Employee Communications with HCL Connections.”