From reach to resonance: Elevate employee experience and engagement in 2024

Dec 08, 2023
From reach to resonance: Elevate employee experience and engagement in 2024

By Trish Nicolas, EVP rf.engage Americas

As communications professionals, we know that audience engagement is a moving target. What was best practice last year – or even last month – may not be effective today. Success is no longer about reach. Rather, it’s about resonance and action adoption. And it seems harder than ever.

We’ve all seen the statistics from Gallup, Gartner, Korn Ferry and others about the need for effective internal communication and why it’s stepped squarely into the spotlight as a top priority for communicators, workforces, and corporate performance. Bandwidth and attention seem to be declining while employee disengagement is on the rise. Communications are often buried or ignored due to information inundation and platform proliferation. Cascades are broken and managers are burning out. We are in the messy middle of finding the right balance of automated technology and human psychology in communications.

You’ll be glad to know that there is some good news against the backdrop of the many challenges related to effective employee communication and engagement: Outcomes have (thankfully) displaced output, strategy is more valued over spray-and-pray tactics, and we have more data than ever before to inform decisions about content, channels, and cadences. But, has this made it easier… or even more difficult to achieve resonance?

Being aware of the myriad dynamics that workforces and communicators can expect to navigate in 2024 impacts how we plan for the year ahead. These include:

Prioritization & Personalization – With a staggering 43% of employees failing to notice important information because of too many applications or the volume of communication (according to Gartner), this is truly a moment of “less is more” and meeting people where they’re at. Rather than contributing to the pile-on, we should focus on prioritizing to promote employee consumption and action. We need to make it easy for workers to find and access timely, pertinent information when and where they need it… minimizing clicks and mitigating frustration.

This requires relentless curation and personalization to ensure the right content gets to the right audiences or individuals on the right channel at the right time and in the right language. Related keywords for 2024 are: streamline, streamline, streamline.

Acceleration & Optimization – It seems that most communicators are doing more with less (people, resources, time) while leader demand for communication climbs. We can tap tools and platforms to accelerate the work, but we should also make them truly work for us while keeping prioritization and personalization at the forefront.

For example, are you making the most of the platforms you have to create a modern employee communications experience? Are you experimenting with AI to support drafting, planning, and ideation, and to improve consistency of tone and messaging? Have you leveraged tools to create self-service opportunities for business partners with clear guidelines that drive consistency?

Connection & Collaboration – Deskless workers make up a whopping 80% of the global workforce, yet we generally over-index on white-collar, desktop-centric digital communication. Prioritizing communications for these 2.7 billion deskless workers around the world will go a long way in enhancing employee engagement. In addition, with five generations active in the workforce today – about 70% being Gen X and millennials – we must be mindful about communication preferences to maximize reach and resonance.

And while we are on the topic of connection, meaningful work is one of the top reasons employees join a company, stay in their job, and engage, so be crystal clear about connection to purpose. Internal and external communications can play a key role on topics of connection in close collaboration with business partners to ensure a consistent employee and brand experience.

Translation & Localization – Almost one fifth of U.S. workers are Hispanic, and that minority is driving labor force growth. While they comprise 19% of the U.S. population, Hispanics represent 39% of the country’s GDP growth. Companies must acknowledge and embrace this trend by emphasizing inclusive communication that goes beyond translation. That means creating and prioritizing content that is culturally relevant, reflecting an understanding of diverse cultural, social, and political nuances.

In addition, while organizations work hard to speak with one unified voice, different locations often have different needs based on their function, geography, or corporate sub-culture. Self-serve communications programs with defined guidelines can help to enhance resonance with locally relevant content, while also ensuring brand and message consistency.

Education & Recognition – Read any management or HR article these days and you will know that cross-skilling, upskilling, and reskilling are emerging as both workforce opportunities and obstacles. Communications can be a powerful partner with Learning & Development teams to facilitate these dramatic but necessary shifts largely driven by technology and business transformation.

Along with growth, workers want gratitude. Appreciation and recognition – both private and public – can boost employee engagement, wellbeing, loyalty, and performance. Amplifying stories of employee excellence has another benefit: it serves as an example of what “good” looks like, and ultimately inspires others to emulate similar behaviors.

Our responsibility as communications professionals is to keep on top of workplace trends and evolving employee behaviors, becoming active stewards of the audience experience. Focusing on these imperatives in 2024 will help to seize the opportunities that come with change and put true resonance within reach.

*Article includes content first published in CommPro November 30, 2023

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