This story was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sept. 21, 2016.
Why aren’t businesses courting their employees? I’ve frequently asked myself this question in my interactions with leaders in marketing, human resources and internal communications.
In business, potential customers are pursued with enthusiastic zeal, and talented job candidates are aggressively recruited. The smartest companies are investing significant time and resources into maintaining the happiness of their existing customer base. But what are we doing to excite our employees?
If you think this doesn’t matter, think again. Numerous recent studies, including this one by Harvard Business Review, have lauded the benefits – both culturally and financially – of strong employee engagement. And yet, U.S. employee engagement has remained disappointingly low for more than 10 years (Gallup).
On top of that, our attitudes regarding job loyalty have drastically changed in recent years. While past generations were more likely to stick with one employer for decades, today’s most talented workers have no qualms about jumping ship for a better offer. In fact, a new survey report from Rapt Media finds that 69 percent of U.S. employees are open to new opportunities, or actively seeking their next job.
And if you’re shaking your head and pointing to the high figures of your last employee engagement survey – not so fast. According to Rapt Media’s data, one in four employees aren’t being truthful in those internal assessments.
Gone are the days when we could take long-term employee loyalty for granted. Today, employee loyalty must be courted. And we’re missing out on a major opportunity to do just that.
Through the content and delivery of our internal communications, we are interacting with our workers on a daily basis. Unfortunately, too many companies are undervaluing this opportunity and executing it poorly. Many are relying on the old-fashioned methods of 10, 20 and 30 years ago – newsletters, emails, town hall meetings, and the like. However, these channels are not as effective as they used to be.
Rapt Media’s survey found that 60 percent of U.S. employees are bored by their employers’ internal communications. Nearly half (44 percent) report that those communications haven’t changed at all in the last five years.
This data points to a desperate need for more creative vision, innovation and investment in the internal landscape. In an increasingly fast-paced digital world, internal communications can’t hope to compete with the avalanche of mesmerizing online media and content that is constantly at employees’ fingertips – unless those messages are designed to captivate, and are presented in an entirely new way.
Why not borrow a page from the marketer’s playbook and transform internal communications to mimic the style, tone and content of news and social media? Why not personalize and gamify communications so they’re inherently appealing for employees? Why not abandon compulsory content and corporate-speak, and instead draw employee attention and input in an organic way?
If you take the time to listen to your employees, you’ll find they want something new. In fact, 73 percent of the employees who responded to Rapt Media’s survey said they have suggestions for their internal communicators. One in four want more entertaining features like games and humor. Another one in four want more personalized content that is actually interesting and relevant to them.
It’s time to think beyond the newsletter, or even the intranet. Only with content that breaks through the minefield of distractions, requests interaction and cultivates an emotional connection can we hope to win over employees’ hearts and minds.