A company that cares about the morale of its colleagues will ensure that not only are those facing and experiencing redundancy are the beneficiaries of clear, well-thought out and sensitive communication, but that those left behind can remain engaged and focus on the task in hand. A communicator's role in these times needs to be a master in tact and diplomacy. How do you raise the morale of those staying without upsetting those facing the unemployment line? And, just as importantly, with those working notice periods, how do you keep them engaged in the goals of the very business which is putting them out of work?
Honesty is, as ever, the best policy. Understanding why your role is redundant - and I stress here your 'role' and not 'you' helps to keep loyalty and engagement. In most cases, it is nothing personal. Demonstrating your understanding of what that person is going through, showing empathy and praising a job well done all help to keep the motivation going.
Don't forget to keep talking to those that will remain. It is only natural that most will feel insecure, wondering 'who's next?'. Celebrate success and discuss the reasons behind failure. Now, more than ever, is the time for a bit of transparency. Share your situation with your colleagues, instill that feeling of 'we're all in this together'; 'together we are stronger'. Keep the focus on engagement and ensure that everyone can have a voice.
So, what is employee engagement and why should you bothered about it? Well, I could spout off for hours singing the virtues of engaged employees and I know I'd get through to some people. However, there are others among you who like a bit of theory and fact in with their recipes for success, so here we go. Read it and think!
In 2006, The Conference Board published a report titled, "Employee Engagement, A Review of Current Research and Its Implications." It was based on a review of 12 major studies conducted during the preceding four years. After sifting through the data, they ultimately arrived at a definition for employee engagement that illustrates its potential impact on organizational performance: "A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work." Not a bad formula for winning. In other words it's about instilling pride in your employee for the company they work for, ensuring that they work as hard for you as they might for themselves. It's about being a part of something special and knowing where you fit in and how your contribution is vital to the success of the whole.
So, what difference does it actually make to the bottom line? In this day and age isn't it more important to just get products and services out the door as competively as possible while making a sustainable profit? What's my ROI in investing in an engaged workforce?
Here’s some quantitative validation for greater engagement. In an HR Magazine article published in March 2007 titled, "Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR's Strategic Role," author Nancy Lockwood reported on some remarkable research data. It showed that employees with the highest level of commitment perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization. That's serious bottom line impact no matter how you measure it.
So, who is responsible for achieving this state of nirvana. Well, I could try and drum up work by insisting that it's your internal communications team bringing everyone together and of course, to a certain degree I'd be right! However, we all know that communication is just a part of it and factors such as benefits, working environment, training, future prospects and such like all have their role to play. But without communication how can you expect your employees to fully understand all that you give them as well as all you can and need to achieve? In times of recession do employees naturally feel less engaged as they fear for their jobs, or see their colleagues leaving. Communication is knot holding the sail up - open up your spinakker and let the wind of message move your business through the turbulent waves streaks ahead of your competition!
We can't all work for the most interesting and exciting companies in the world, not many companies can afford massage chairs and chill out zones but there is no reason why we can't instill passion in what we do to all our employees. Every business is on a journey and your colleagues are your passengers. What are they seeing out of window? What is keeping them entertained? How much do they understand about what it is that keeps the business going, what your ambitions are and how their role can impact those ambitions? Tell them, and do this in the most engaging way you can. This is what I love about internal communications - the opportunity to bring strategy to life through storytelling, evoking some drama, bringing your characters to life. Who are your characters? Well, your colleagues, your Board, stakeholders and your products & services. If people don't get what it is you're trying to achieve then change the story - add the drama! To me, internal communications is a great opportunity of have fun in the workplace and still see the results in the bottom line.