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How critical is employee engagement to the success of your organisation? It sounds a fairly daft question with an obvious answer but you may be wrong. In a survey of global business HR, internal communications and corporate communications functions with 566 respondents, four out of every five (82%) said employee engagement is very important to the performance of their organisation. So far, so good. But when asked in the survey (Edelman, April 2015) whether their organisation has an employee engagement strategy, only a little over half (55%) of them did. Furthermore, 38% of them do not have a measurement strategy for their employee engagement. So while most respondents seem to value employee engagement, far fewer have a strategy to implement and/or measure.

Your staff are the co-creators of your organisation’s values and are the people who deliver services/productivity. Yet many organisations around the world would appear to be failing in their strategic approach to how they involve, support and empower their key internal resource. When asked which function manages employee engagement, 55% said HR/organisational development, 19% said internal communications, and 13% said the senior leadership team. This would appear to be worrying both for the prominence of the internal comms function in relation to the retained dominant power of HR, but also for the majority of organisations whose senior leaders are not owning the dialogue and relationships with their staff.

Touch Design have worked with several of our clients over the past year on campaigns that promote the strategic function of employee engagement. With Essex County Council we developed the branding for the Art of the Possible event, which worked with staff to generate ideas as part of a change management process within the organisation. Additionally with the Essex local authority we developed a multi-media campaign, utilising video, posters and blog content, to promote their vision and values (‘operating styles’) through the first person narrative of colleagues showcasing the operating styles in action. 

“The campaign to promote our Operating Styles (ways of working within Essex County Council) ran for five months. It generated lots of conversation across the workplace, as a different employee was profiled each week with a poster, blog on our intranet homepage and a video in our weekly e-newsletter. While the campaign was designed to show how the council needs to operate differently to transform services, it also became a platform to highlight and celebrate the success of our employees. Some of the blog posts attracted a large number of comments talking about the inspirational nature of the work that colleagues are doing.

“Working with Touch made running the campaign remarkably easy. They took the pressure off me and it was such a smooth process. If I had not used Touch, I would have had to book a videographer, a photographer, a writer and a designer separately but they co-ordinated everything. It would have been a logistical nightmare otherwise. Instead, it was easy, simple and straightforward. I really enjoyed the time we spent out on location with Touch and our interviewees, and the time finalising the campaign afterwards. The logistics and end products have all been fantastic, and everything has been sent through on time.” Holly Baker

For our client Tanita, a global leader in health monitoring, we produced the 'I am’ campaign promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers and adapted this message to ‘We are’ for their staff, ensuring consistent visual images and messages to internal and external audiences. This roll-out of the campaign stressed the importance of the people (the staff) behind the products.

“Involving all Tanita Europe staff in internal communications is an important part of employee commitment, team building and inter-departmental networking. This has proven to be essential in building a positive and constructive working environment that we all benefit from.” Kim Ramessa, international marketing manager, Tanita Europe BV

In other areas, we aligned internal and external messaging, perfectly capturing brand values, in the production of an annual report for the Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.

“The Trust has eight patient pledges and the annual report produced by Touch was a really creative way of encouraging staff involvement and ownership of those pledges.” Rebecca Beedie, media and copywriting manager, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust

Our work illustrates our view that good design and creative approaches have to be linked to good business process. Creative should not just be developed for creative sake – there has to be a purpose. In the campaigns we’ve highlighted here our work has been strategically aligned and complementary to the overall business plan of our clients. 

In proudly sponsoring CommsCamp this year - an ‘unconference’ for local government and health communicators, PR professionals, digital specialists and marketers – we asked attendees what makes for good internal communications. The attendees of the session came up with this top tips list and a few great examples:

Top tips for good internal communications:

  • Know what you want to achieve and who you need to communicate with
  • Ask your staff how and when they want to be communicated with
  • Trust your staff
  • It needs to be two way communication
  • You can no longer just rely on an intranet
  • You need multiple channels of communication
  • If your work force is mobile you need to have mobile communication
  • Not a one size fits all in terms of message and medium
  • Give the info you push out titles so people know how to engage with it- Essential read, Other news, ‘The Toilet Read’
  • Tailor the info for each department, but ensure an 'other news' section which points else where in the organisation
  • Enable staff to choose what info to receive
  • When updating info consider also removing info - sometimes too much information makes it difficult to engage
  • Need to use real staff and their real stories
  • Need to get staff to own organisations aims
  • All people in the organisation are communicators and should be enabled to be so
  • Don’t make too much noise via one form of medium - need blogs, vlogs, round up weekly emails and not just everything via email for example
  • Timely communications could be better than no communications
  • Sometimes things shouldn’t be too polished particularly if you are trying to capture the authenticity of a staff member
  • You need to measure your internal communications so you know what is working

Examples given:

  • Essex County Fire- Wordpress used which staff subscribe to with personal email address and they tick what they want to receive info on. They always receive business critical info and they receive this by SMS message if classed as really or urgent business critical.
  • Housing association- intranet is mobile and find that this works really well with younger employees. They are also looking at developing this into an app so they can have push notifications.
  • Food Standard Agency- have been using Yammer since 2012 and their chief exec is great and responds to posts. They have approx. 1,200 staff and around 700 use it. They do live Yammer chats- yam jams too. It has taken time to implement but has been worth it.
  • Interact Intranet- were suggested as a good company to help with an intranet.
  • @wedge willing to show his intranets!
  • Essex County Fire- employee forum called ‘Involve, Consult, Inform’, is a road show to different stations.
  • Touch Design- Open Space process suggested as a two way process to ensure staff involvement.
  • Clearbox.co.uk- suggested to look at their report on Sharepoint bolt ons for analytics
  • Rachel Miller’s blog- suggested to look at about communication coming from staff

Touch Design are the proud sponsors of the comms2point0 ‘CommsCamp’ – an open space ‘unconference’ for public sector communications, PR, marketing and digital professionals – see www.commscamp.com

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