The future of work is on everyone’s mind. Will all workers have to go into the office? Will they remain remote? What does “flexible” mean? How can we enable and engage employees in the experiment that is the new ways we work?
There is a lot of anxiety around these questions, and with employee advocacy at an all-time high, organizations are trying to balance how to bring people back to the office while retaining and engaging talent.
That’s where communicators come in. Ultimately how we feel about work is driven by communication. Here are just a few ways that comms pros will be involved in setting the future of work:
Create active two-way channels
We often focus on the content that will draw employees to take an action or feel a certain way. That’s great, but unless you have voice of employee programs or two-way channels, you will lack the sentiment that will inform your communications strategy.
When employees are offered better communication technology and skills, productivity can increase by up to 30% (Expert Market Research Study, May 2022). Sentiment is very fluid for every organization in their journey to new ways of working, so getting feedback will help you tailor a successful approach.
If you have an intranet, invite comments. If you use chat channels, engage your employees there. Consider using regular polls and pulse surveys. Slido is a great tool when conducting focus groups to solicit real-time, anonymous feedback.
Tune your why
The storytelling that worked in 2021 is not going to work in 2022, especially around return to work. Employees who like working remotely will have a myriad of proof points as to why remote works, so why you are returning to the office needs to be grounded in the benefits of the change and what it means for them.
The good news is as many articles there are on the benefits of remote working, there are as many recent stats on Zoom fatigue, loneliness and reduced physical activity that you can use to help build your case around a return to office, all grounded in why.
Employees use social media constantly to connect with communities of all kinds, from their family to their children’s school to their fellow sports team fans. , Make sure you’re using these tools as a connected part of their community, too.
Feature social media in employee storytelling. If you are planning on returning to an office, share photos and video of employees together in the office to encourage others to avoid missing out on the important social aspect of work.
Employees also want to be seen by their peers as working for amazing organizations, so encourage them to share posts on social channels with customized hashtags. Whether recruiting, company news or commitment posts, share these in a brand ambassador chat channel and create opportunities for employees to create content as well. There is 800% more engagement on posts shared by employees when compared to the same posts shared by official brand accounts, so this can be a valuable tool.
Communicators have had incredible challenges in the last few years, and this has made for more creative and impactful campaigns. At the heart of the future of work is community, which is driven by social interactions.
A report by Altimeter Group stated that “socially engaged employees are more optimistic, inspired, connected, and tenured”. Powerful storytelling does lead to powerful sentiment. Whatever the future may bring, communicators are ready.
Cat Colella-Graham is president, employee experience practice, for Lippe Taylor Group.