In the great content deluge — prospects! funnels! repeat buyers! upselling! — I can guarantee with a high degree of certainty there’s a critical audience you’re not hitting. One that’s integral to the continued existence of your company. An audience that needs to be nurtured just as strategically as your hottest prospect or biggest buyer.
Who are these unicorns? Your employees.
During the era of the Great Resignation (Hasn’t hit your organization yet? Don’t be smug; it’s only a matter of time), businesses of all sizes need to make sure they’re communicating with, engaging and developing the people who keep the lights on and the wheels spinning.
During our nearly 25 years in this business, it’s been at least 5-6 years since a client has proactively approached us with an internal communications project request. We’ve been the ones asking, “What about employee communications? How are you informing them of this new product rollout/change in policy/important other thing that will impact their work and life?”
Why is that? A few reasons.
#1 It was a buyer’s market. Employers had the scales tipped in their favor for much of hiring history. It was a genuine struggle to wade through the stacks of qualified resumes. Today, not so much. Candidates have options and they know it.
#2 You had a (mostly) captive audience. By and large, employees worked in a group setting. So it was simple to walk around, share information and informally gauge how “invested” people appeared. But COVID blew that up and here we are, relying on Zoom calls and Slack channels.
#3 There was no such thing as an employer brand. See #1 above. Because employers weren’t used to competing for talent, they didn’t see a reason to invest in company culture building, publicly expressing their values or measuring employee engagement. In other words, nobody had to actively differentiate themselves to attract strong job candidates.
Today, if you’re still holding onto an old-school mindset, you’re losing the talent wars. And your bottom line is paying the price.
So what needs to change?
Consider how your employees receive critical information. Relying on the grapevine or chain of command to communicate important stuff is the kiss of death when it comes to consistency and accuracy. Instead, treat your staff as you would any other vital target audience.
Create and communicate a content strategy. Whether you choose to hold monthly town halls, distribute a weekly email newsletter or post flyers on a bulletin board, make sure everyone knows exactly how and where they can consume important company news and information.
Have goals in mind. How will you measure success? What actions do you want to see taken? Do you want employees to proactively share the company’s social posts, refer potential new hires or something else?
Map out a calendar. Every business has some form of seasonality — a busy time, a slow season, a huge fall conference or annual certification deadline. Use these to start building out a calendar of topics, then fill in the gaps with stuff like open enrollment deadlines, why participating in the company’s retirement plan is so important, job openings, etc.
Have some personality. Bring your corporate culture to life with news, activities and features that reinforce what you’re trying to achieve. Use tools like gamification to inject interactivity into your content and measure engagement.
Think internally and externally. Your audience isn’t just current staff — it’s future employees, too. Be sure to include outward-facing messaging that shows you’re worth a look as someone’s next employer. This could include employee videos shared on social media, “behind-the-scenes” peeks at how the sausage gets made, or a Q&A with your CEO talking about the qualities that make their employees successful.
Measure and improve. Don’t know what employees will be most receptive to? Ask! Polls and surveys are a simple way to facilitate feedback. Like any solid content strategy, keep iterating until you’re seeing results — but be patient. A stellar internal communications plan isn’t created in a day.
Need more ideas for reaching this overlooked audience? Let’s brainstorm — we’re here to help!