5 ways Microsoft boosts engagement and internal culture

Know your values. Create a communications cadence. Unite through internally viral video. Here’s a sneak preview of a Microsoft session from Ragan’s big Disney World conference.

Culture lessons from Microsoft

Just about every organization these days is embracing the need to boost employee engagement and internal culture.

What’s often needed, though, is a top-to-bottom strategy for making that happen. After all, the benefits are increasingly clear.

“Organizations are recognizing the value of driving employee engagement and what impact that has, not just on the overall happiness and retention of employees, but also the productivity,” says Kasia Krzoska, senior product manager at Microsoft. “It does have a profound impact on an organization’s bottom line.”

Krzoska will explore the topic in her session, “Following the leader: How Microsoft connects with employees to boost engagement and culture,” at Ragan’s Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Communications Professionals March 11–13 at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.

Here are a few tips she offers:

1. Know—and have leaders communicate—your values.

Understand your overarching values as an organization, and design a strategic plan to make that known within the organization, Krzoska says.

“That’s the North Star that you need to be really, really clear on within your organization,” she says.

2. Communicate regularly on those values.

Get leaders to, well, take the lead in communicating frequently. “Start with having accessibility to your leader with a regular cadence of communication,” Krzoska says.

Leaders can post their thoughts on Yammer, the intranet or other channels, and communicators can share content that pushes organizational values.

Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadella holds a monthly Q&A town hall, Krzoska says. The topics don’t just relate to corporate initiatives, but also address issues that are important to employees. Answering questions is essential. The session is livestreamed and available afterward for those in different time zones.

3. Harness the power of video.

Particularly in large organizations, video can be a powerful tool for engaging and connecting your workforce, Krzoska says. For leadership engagement, video livestreams can bring the events straight to people’s desks and phones. Non-live video, too, can be a way of uniting teams worldwide—whether it’s a CEO vlog or mobile-first short-form videos.

“We have some customers that do something like an inclusion week, or they’re celebrating the Super Bowl,” Krzoska says. “They’re using video as a way to show how everybody around the world is celebrating the same initiative.”

Microsoft uses employee-generated videos to increase interest in a philanthropic campaign, Krzoska says. The company encourages employees to give to a cause, and to record a video explaining where and why they give. They’re encouraged to share the video, through a tagging system, with two other people within 24 hours.

“We engaged leadership to kick this off,” Krzoska says. “And then we just saw the video-sharing of this almost go viral in a way on Yammer. It was really powerful, because it drove significantly more engagement—like three times more—through that kind of approach.”

4. Drive transparency.

Corporate communities frequently collect feedback from employees, but how much transparency is there in communicating the findings companywide?

“The stuff that’s going on within your organization, it’s going to go on regardless,” Krzoska says. “So employing the tools and processes to drive transparency is super-important.”

Organizations can find ways to afford employees a voice, whether it’s through a post-survey discussion or a tool such as Yammer, she says.

5. Act on what you learn.

Don’t just sit on the information; let your people know what you’re doing about it.

“Make sure that your employees feel heard, they feel like they’re part of something that is actually moving forward,” Krzoska says, “and also just that they’re part of the organization.”

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