5 ways to celebrate rank-and-file employees

All too often, internal messaging focuses on top executives. Engage your workers and boost productivity by casting the spotlight on the bean counters, third-shifters and support staff.

Giving visibility to leadership is important.

People want to see the faces and know the humans behind the titles at the top of the org chart.

It can be even more powerful to give visibility to the rest of the organization. Often, internal communicators focus on the folks at the top and don’t give much coverage to the employees who are making the products, delivering the service, closing the sales, coding the platforms—not to mention staff in HR, accounting, marketing and more who support those people.

Here are five ways to create more visibility for the people doing the real work of the company:

1. Quote them in articles: On the intranet or in your employee publications, use regular employees as sources rather than always quoting someone from the corner offices. When you’re covering a new product or a new plant, giving examples of collaboration or innovation, illustrating how the values of the company are used at work, the rank-and-file people will have insights and comments that other employees will want to read.

2. Shoot employee photos: This is not about snapping someone’s headshot standing against a beige cubicle wall. Invest in talented photographers to shoot employees in context of their work. Then use that library of employee photography to illustrate everything from your intranet to digital signage to the annual report. If you have multiple locations and types of workplaces, try shooting at three to five places a year and building the library over time.

3. Build an employee culture team: Establish a small group of mid-level employees who represent diversity, and invite them to be conduits for the culture. You might start with an off-site gathering where the team can bond, with leaders on hand to talk about the culture, where the company is going and what it stands for. Then use this team to give culture presentations to their colleagues and to report back to leaders on employee questions, concerns, progress and setbacks. When you have a major change down the road, you’ll be glad to have this cadre of influencers in place.

RELATED: Learn best practices to break through the clutter and connect with employees at the Internal Communicators Summit.

4. Create a peer-to-peer recognition program: Top-down recognition is great, but it can be just as powerful to be applauded by one’s co-workers. Establish a periodic recognition program in which employees drive the process of who among them gets recognized.

5. Help them see the value of their roles: This is the big one—and it lies at the heart of employees’ feeling celebrated rather than invisible. If you can draw a line, in employees’ minds, that leads directly from what they do every day to the vision and success of the company, you create a powerful shift. Help employees see how their individual roles contribute, and make sure they see leaders recognizing their contributions as well.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is the CEO and Executive Creative Director of Tribe, an internal communications agency working with national and global brands to build employee engagement. A version of this article first appeared on Tribe’s blog.

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