Last week, Akumina had the exciting opportunity to host an interactive roundtable at the Intra.NET Reloaded event held in Boston, MA. Intra.NET Reloaded is an event that brings together leading executives and stakeholders who play an active role in internal communications and the digital workplace scene.

Akumina lead a roundtable on employee engagement allowing us to meet with five different groups and map out the challenges organizations are facing in regards to the changing needs and expectations of employees. We took our ideas to sticky notes and pinned up lots of great ideas to keep employees engaged and productive in today’s modern workforce.

We gathered lots of valuable insights and ideas and hope that everyone left feeling empowered to go back to the office this week. Below our some of our favorite easy-to-implement ideas.

To start, let’s take a look at the top three themes organizations most commonly shared as preventing them from keeping their employees engaged and productive.

  1. Email Overload
    Many organizations today feel stuck in email with hundreds of messages to read, respond and manage on a daily basis.  On top of that, every system brought into an organization to increase productivity from financial systems, reporting systems, human capital and more all default to creating alerts via emails , inadvertently forcing employees to form habits of ignoring messages because it was overlooked for a system-generated alert. What’s the point of system generated alerts anyway, if they are usually ignored of filtered to a folder?
  2. Communication Overload
    For those organizations who have managed to get out of email are faced with communication overload. Between email, direct messages, chats, tweets, phone calls, commenting and more, employees are inundated with instant real-time communications from multiple sources creating too many channels for employees to keep up with and clarity on what platform to use and when.
  3. Relevant Content
    Did you ever receive an email and thought, how does this pertain to me? Everyone in the room could relate to this. We often are forced to weed through communications and try to determine the relevance to our role and responsibility. On the flip side, we’d never send all of our customers the same 3,000+ word email about an initiative or change. Instead, we’d break it down by customer type and send personalized messages relevant to each customer type and how it impacts them directly.

So how do organizations keep employees engaged and productive leveraging a digital workplace strategy without falling victim to “communication overload” ?

Our Favorite Ideas and Tips

Define Rules of Engagement
Whether it’s organization-wide or department-wide, there needs to be clear expectations and best practices on what type of communication channels should be used and for what purpose. Create best practice cheat sheets so everyone knows how to most effectively use each communication channel and where each type of communication should live from alerts, company updates, questions, team collaboration, document sharing, and more. Assign employee advocates who can help drive change and provide examples on how to effectively use each type of channel. Reward employees for hitting certain milestones (keeping all document-sharing out of email) and gather on-going feedback of what’s working, what’s not working and make continuous improvements.

Deliver Personalized Content
Take a lesson from Marketing, targeted messages are key to an effective communication strategy. Just as customers and prospects have a journey, our employees have a journey as well. Ensure employees are delivered messages that are relevant to their individual role, goals, location, language, and any other attribute unique to the employee. New employees should receive content that is helpful to on-boarding over a series of a few weeks while employees with a longer tenure should receive content that helps further their development or keeps them productive within their specific role. Furthermore, ensure you understand how your employees consume content and what’s appropriate for each region – different roles, departments, and locations will have different levels of accessibility ( device type, language, image/video rendering) and expectations when it comes to content.

Micro Content Strategy
Develop a micro-content strategy to help solve communication overload. Can you say more with less? Teach employees how to focus on effective communications. Not every employee is going to be able to keep up with the company’s latest news and events each and every day. Employees who are not in front of a computer everyday shouldn’t be forced to filter and dig through content to stay connected. Find creative ways to display relevant content and keep thing fresh. Setup and display filters to showcase popular content whether it’s from your knowledge-base or delivered by your communications team to ensure employees can quickly find content that is the most popular or create a company roundup blog or newsletter that is tagged/categorized appropriately. Just because you’ve implemented a new intranet doesn’t mean communications should stay confined within the walls of the intranet. Print out stories, round-ups, etc and leave copies in your lunch room or provide to line managers where communication can flow beyond the intranet so all employees can feel connected and engaged.

Help Employees Master the Simple Things
Sometimes we take for granted the simple work lessons on how to use different technology and tools, yet we’re expected to always be productive and work more with less. Why not find champions among the organization who have really nailed down how to accomplish something that may seem simple but can have a big impact on productivity such as “email box organization, prioritizing their day, writing effective emails messages, how to keep meetings under 30 minutes, and more”.  Empower employees to share how they stay productive and provide tips/tricks of how to utilize technology effectively to keep employees sharp and achieve the most value out of your existing IT investments.

Create Social Campaigns to Engage Employees
Another lesson from Marketing, as Marketers we love to create “emotional connections” with our buyers… but what about our employees? By using the power of social, you can find new ways to connect with employees and connect employees with other employees which in turn can help open up communication channels and drive collaboration. Social shouldn’t be just for outside the office, create relevant social alerts to recognize employees (anniversaries, life achievements, family changes, etc), create social campaigns to allow employees to learn about members of the leadership team or other departments and offices around the globe. Social can also be a great way to promote your mission and culture, share stories via social-like publishing that provide real examples of what’s important to your organization (i.e., customer satisfaction). Respect employee’s preferences and let employees decide what type of social content they want to receive and subscribe to (sales updates, product updates, employee updates, local happenings, weather, etc).

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Transparency
During one of our roundtables, we had a long conversation about feedback and transparency. Regardless if feedback is encouraged, most organization agreed that employees didn’t’ feel actions were taken from their feedback or had no visibility into what happened with their feedback. It’s important to create a transparency model that allows employees to understand the company’s vision and where the company is heading, even if an employee’s wishes are not always granted. You’ll give them visibility into what’s important to the organization and why. This type of transparency will help build trust among the employees and provide employees insights into what types of changes are happening within the organization and how their job aligns to the corporate goals.

Add Humor and Keep It Sexy
Let’s face it, sometimes work can be boring but at the end of the day all jobs must get done. Technology has allowed us to easily create engaging content that can help make some of those boring task not so boring. From adding humor to your next safety or IT training or creating a video blog for the next corporate announcement to incorporating contest for conducting the more mundane work; find new ways to engage employees and co-workers to keep things lively and fun.

Below is a copy of the full board we mapped out, if you’re interested in discussing any of these issues or ideas listed in greater detail, feel free to reach out!

akumina-roundtable-employee-engagement