Sixty-two percent of the U.S. workforce is either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work, according to Gallup — a number that should alarm business leaders everywhere. The fact that nearly two-thirds of the country’s workforce feels disengaged highlights a communication disconnect among business leaders and their employees, which can have major consequences, including absenteeism and turnover.
The solution to disengagement ultimately lies in the delivery of information. And, in a time where necessary information changes quickly, it becomes that much more important.
When employees receive proper information from your company about how to do their jobs, they feel valued. If they’re made aware of important company updates, they feel respected. And when they know where to seek out information or ask questions, they feel motivated and a part of the team.
The key to improving employee disengagement is informative communication.
I believe many workers will ride out their jobs during the economic downturn of the Covid-19 pandemic, but disengaged employees will quickly jump ship when the job market reverses course. This would leave your business shorthanded — not unlike the time prior to their departure, when productivity decreases. Moreover, the stress caused by the pandemic can further deepen a sense of disconnectedness, and many workers look to their companies for guidance in navigating this challenging period.
To break this cycle, here are four steps to make your employee communication more informative.
1. Put your workplace at your employees’ fingertips.
The first step to improving communication with your front-line employees, especially during this time when many businesses are operating remotely, is to establish a secure digital workplace platform for communication. Enlist a technology partner that can provide a solution tailored to your business. Ensure that your platform is accessible online and on mobile devices to give workers at all levels convenient, around-the-clock access to your company. (A number of companies, my own included, offer these types of platforms.)
With a digital workplace, employees will know where to go when they have a work inquiry, and your leadership will have a consistent place to inform workers of any company matters.
2. Make yourself easy to find.
For leaders, the most effective way to use a digital workplace platform is to put yourself front and center. Leverage communication channels that serve as forums within your platform to make announcements, engage in discussions and drive companywide communication.
One of the first channels you should create is a CEO channel: an established place for your leadership to directly inform employees about company news. My company has the pleasure of working with executive teams from enterprises with large front-line workforces, and based on their feedback, I can tell you firsthand that your employees want to hear from you and other C-suite leaders. Employees are interested in how your company is performing, how current events affect your mission and what they can do to help the business succeed. Dedicating a channel for this information eliminates ambiguity, allowing you to directly speak to them on a large scale.
Try to be as open as possible with your front line. Welcome their feedback, and encourage them to ask questions. Make sure they know where to contact you on your platform.
3. Give employees a voice.
Consistently informing your workers about the company communicates respect — and so does enabling your employees to share information and feedback in return.
Within your platform, establish communication channels and chat groups for employees to use among themselves. Enabling discussion on your platform improves collaboration among workers and boosts employee engagement. These channels are especially effective for enterprise businesses with employees located around the country or even around the world. With the right communication tools, workers across your organization can engage with one another and feel more unified in your company’s mission.
A few common channel uses include:
• Employee Q&A: A place where questions are asked in a public forum that enables peer-to-peer problem solving while giving leadership insight into sticking points within the organization.
• Manager: Front-line managers can share lessons they’ve learned on the job, best practices and tips with fellow employees and managers to provide collaborative learning opportunities.
• Employee-driven topics: Sometimes employees simply need a place to share something that doesn’t fall under a certain category, and that’s OK. A channel for random, miscellaneous items enables workers to find an answer for any inquiry they have and share information they think fellow colleagues should know.
4. Move inefficient communication where it needs to be.
Front-line communication can be improved further by offering respite from inefficient uses of digital communication. For example, by moving task management and shift management out of communication channels, employers can ensure that new communication practices that are pertinent to resilience are heard.
Develop a list of ways digital communication is currently being used within your organization or how internal teams might use a direct line to the front lines to facilitate work. Then, remove pieces that can be better facilitated elsewhere.
For example, move scheduling conversations into a scheduling solution that can eliminate back-and-forth on communication channels. If you do opt for a new scheduling solution, ensure it provides visibility into availability and autonomous shift swapping, and that it creates workflows a simple chat platform cannot achieve. Then, unleash the potential of your front lines by using task management tools built for the front lines. By broadcasting tasks directly to employees, you make your corporate communication channels clearer, while tasks become more organized. Because my company specializes in these types of solutions, I’ve seen that continuing this exercise for other functions can help engagement improve across the board.
By investing in employee engagement, you invest in the success of your business. Now more than ever, it’s time to stop thinking about your front-line employees as the people who execute your company’s mission and start thinking about them as partners in driving your organization forward.