IC effectiveness in engagement

Last Thursday (7 August) we held a webinar, and Trudy Lewis helped to organise it and joined the online discussion. She shares Trudy Lewiswhat she learned with us here. Over to Trudy:

“There is plenty of evidence to support the impact of employee engagement on the bottom line…In my fifteen years at Towers Watson and five years before that in Communications at Woolworths, there are three factors that have consistently been shown to drive engagement. Internal Communications can contribute a lot to each”. Andy Blacknell, Blacknell Ventures

IC effectiveness in engagement

Given the challenges we all face daily as we work in internal communications, I am always grateful for a fresh take on what we do. And that’s exactly what we received last week as Andy Blacknell, communication consultant, presented at our webinar on Employee Engagement.

Employee engagement continues to be a wide and popular topic. But as we practice internal communications I believe it’s an area that we need to take the time to pull apart and discuss in order to be better at delivery. Andy provided some great insight and a detailed look at how our role can achieve engagement for the organisations we support.

As mentioned, we spend a lot of time talking about this subject, but one of the challenges is how do we actually making it happen? Often leaders express a desire to have engaged teams, and we are then asked to get it done. But according to Andy, leaders are integral to achieving this and we can equip leaders by making them better communicators. Engagement has to start from the top, and as he explained there is a need to educate leaders about the impact of their behaviour.

Based on research from YouGov, an expectation needed to be set that managers were the preferred channel for communication. Employees actually want to hear from their managers. It is therefore important that by collaborating with HR we ensure that communication becomes a recognised and measured competency for leadership.

And this was just the start, Andy shared that in addition to this, there were two other key areas we can have an affect.

Brand alignment – giving employees line of sight from their job to the company’s mission – making them feel that their job is important. To achieve this, communicators can take two actions:

Define the external brand in simple but engaging language that helps the employee to make real connections.

Define the purpose internally through an employee value proposition (EVP) – what they give and get (see Yahoo’s ‘The Real Deal’).

The other area was creating channels to involve employees and measure. Andy shared a quote from Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘The five dysfunctions of a team’ – if people can ‘weigh in, they will buy in’. He explained that all the research supported that statement and internal communication now had the channels and functional maturity to make this happen. He gave an example from Avery Dennison, a US firm, who used a community feedback tool called Beat to give employees a voice and provide valuable feedback.

Overall it was really good to hear how we can truly make an impact on engagement. We have to overcome the un-engaged leaders, lack of budget and buy in; but we can strategically get involved by addressing the three areas highlighted by Andy to add value.

As part of his presentation Andy said that it’s never been a better time to be in internal communications. As a profession we have so many tools available. Andy used real examples, measurement and research, demonstrating that there is now a wealth of information out there to support us in pushing forward in this area.

One thing’s clear – the influence of internal communication is increasing and that this is a great time to be involved in the profession. It confirms that our credibility is getting better and people trust us to deliver and add the kind of value that affects the bottom line. If engaged employees are more productive, loyal and become brand advocates, if we can achieve this and demonstrate this through measurement, then it can only get better and the use of internal communication, will in a sense, become mainstream.

Thanks Trudy.

The webinar is available here, to watch on demand for CIPR Members. Have your membership log in details ready to view.

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