Greetings, communication pros and masters of prose.
Let’s explore some notable stories from Jan. 10-14, 2022—and extract a few useful messaging takeaways along the way:
1. How will you boost engagement and connectivity in 2022?
Gallup reports that for the first time in a decade, U.S. employee engagement has dropped. This is not at all surprising. But it should be concerning—especially for business leaders who are concerned about keeping the lights on this year.
How can comms pros play their part in reversing these negative engagement trends, and perhaps even reinvigorate the 16% of “actively disengaged” U.S. workers? You might start by taking to heart the big takeaways Gallup gleaned from 2021:
The Great Resignation can be stopped with a great manager.
- During the pandemic, remote workers experienced higher engagement—but also higher stress and worry—than on-site workers.
- Millennials and Gen Z want employers who care about their wellbeing.
- A four-day work week can increase wellbeing.
- Burnout-proof employees have high engagement, and high wellbeing, within a strengths-based culture.
- The data projects 37% fewer in-office days for employees in 2022.
- The office now requires a workplace value proposition.
Now, you might be thinking: “All of these things are above my paygrade and out of my control.” That may be the case. You might not set policies or protocols—or even be in the room where those decisions are being made. (Hopefully you are!)
Even if your leaders tend to make big decisions behind closed doors, you can become a bold, tireless advocate for what employees want. You can be the voice of the employee.
By consistently collecting candid feedback on workers’ desires, needs, preferences, concerns and pet peeves—and then fighting to make sure their voices are heard and acted upon—you hold the keys to unlocking engagement. The trick is making sure your top honchos respond to employee requests in meaningful, substantive ways.
If not, your company could be in for a long year.
2. Vaccine mandate situation update.
The Supreme Court has stopped a major push by the Biden administration to boost the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a requirement that employees at large businesses get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job.
At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. The court’s orders Thursday came during a spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant.
Does this new ruling change your company’s vaccine rules or policies? Or will your rules regarding employee vaccination remain the same?
Regardless of which direction your company takes, make sure your messaging (and expectations) are crystal-clear amid all this ongoing confusion about compliance and legislative limbo.
3. Minding your P’s and Q’s—and KPIs.
Citing real-world examples from the likes of Adidas, Alibaba and Slack, MIT offers a nice rundown about maximizing key performance indicators. Instead of tracking numbers “to meet compliance regulations” or “provide a retrospective analysis,” the piece suggests aiming a bit higher.
Communicators who are seeking more authority and respect for their work should take great care to align efforts with top business goals and KPIs. At Slack, for instance, it’s just three:
- Increasing general awareness of the company.
- Accelerating customer growth.
- Maturing a sales pipeline.
Providing such a concise framework “provides all employees with a specific focus for their work and an understanding of what matters most,” MIT reports, adding that Adidas focuses more on customer relationships and net promoter score.
Regardless of your company’s specific KPIs, communicators should step up to show their data-wielding prowess. MIT offers these tips to identify KPIs that pack a punch:
- KPIs help lead as well as manage.
- KPIs align the organization.
- KPIs provide an integrated view of the customer.
- KPI components inform decision-making.
- KPI data is shared across business units.
- KPIs aren’t allowed to proliferate indiscriminately.
- KPIs serve as data sets for machine learning.
Again, you may be thinking, “This isn’t my job!”
That might technically be the case. However, moving forward, bolstering your business IQ and tailoring your work accordingly through compelling data-driven storytelling is the key to becoming unstoppable.
4. Creative ways to combat The Great Resignation.
HR Dive offers four more fresh ideas, including:
- Tap the ‘hidden’ skills within your organization to help struggling workers discover new passions and heightened purpose — and possibly a new career path.
- Increase the size of your external talent pool by focusing on skills (rather than jobs).
- Retain talent: Make work better for humans and humans better at work.
- Unlock capacity by reimagining work as a landscape of skills, not jobs.
You might also consider investing in new HR tech that closely monitors employee sentiment and wellness.
Beyond that, you might want to prepare for the “Great Onboarding.”
5. A tidy list of all comms possibilities (and responsibilities).
Being a communicator is a massive job with an endless to-do list. Keeping it all straight is a challenge, so why not keep a cheat sheet handy?
SHRM’s got you covered with a “managing organizational communication” toolkit, which covers:
- The impact of effective and ineffective communication on the organization and its employees.
- How to build an effective communication strategy.
- The various constituencies affected by the communicated information.
- Measuring results.
- How to select the appropriate audience for each type of message.
- The types of communication methods used in organizations.
You’ll get a reminder about effective comms strategies, which should entail:
- Highly effective strategies that are often top-down, with senior management setting the tone for a cascading series of messages.
- A budget that allows for the use of various types of communication vehicles depending on the message to be delivered and any unique issues associated with it.
- A process by which leaders evaluate any particular situation driving the need to communicate and from which key messages will emerge.
- A method for generating feedback and using it to shape follow-up messages.
- A customized delivery approach with communication materials that are easy to understand.
You can also get back to basics on training, responding to employee issues, DE&I initiatives, town halls, handling media requests, and measuring messaging success.
6. How about some good news?
This week, let’s draw inspiration from:
- Delightful and astounding discoveries, which are still happening every day and can provide a spark of inspiration, joy and wonder amid ongoing struggles.
- Rachel Balkovec, who is smashing baseball’s daunting gender barriers.
- Sweden, which pays parents 80% of their salary when taking time off to care for sick kids.
- These best places to work, which can offer inspiration and guidance on how to shape your own workplace.
- Ragan Training, which is an incredible resource for communication inspiration and education. You also deserve an award. Get your due here!
Take good care of yourselves, comms champions. And keep up the good work.