Connecting people whose main work is to communicate with employees and facilitate communication between employees and management
How do you communicate with your employees?
January 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm #151303
We have a tendency to over-rely on e-mail in my agency, and I’m looking for some alternative ways to get out messages to our staff — some of whom aren’t the most engaged. We thought about electronic bulletin boards/screen saver messages, but were told that we weren’t allowed to pursue those projects. What’s worked in other agencies? Any new ideas out there on how to get out the word to employees and engage them in what’s happening across the agency?
January 31, 2012 at 11:39 am #151321
Michael McCarthy, APRParticipant
We’ve had some success with using employee-based teams to get out the word. For instance, for our wellness program and workplace giving campaigns, we have committees with at least one person from each department on them – and they individually communicate the message of events, programs back to their department. This works very well for campaigns where you are trying to get people to do something, because a friend is encouraging them.
For some initiatives, we have also placed people at the doorways to our main building, pitching the event. We have set up booths at employee-wide events to catch the employees while they are all together. We’ve used posters in break rooms. We’ve also used videos sometimes, and posted on the intranet. The intranet homepages has been a good resource for us, but with a large segment of employees who work in the field, it only hits half our workforce.
It usually takes more that one channel to reach everyone – and it takes repetition.
January 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm #151319
It may be just me, but I found this question to be somewhat scary. What has happened to the human touch? As communicators we know that employees tend to disregard these types of messages unless received directly from their boss. I think the key here is to hold a monthly management meeting—conference call is fine—and provide all managers with information that needs to be disseminated to the staff level. Managers should also be required to hold regular meetings with their staff to impart this information. What’s generally missing in electronic communications is the answer to the question, “Why should I care?” Somehow, someway, performance standards for every manager must be developed that are linked to how well he/she communicates with staff.
January 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm #151317
What type of messages are you trying to get out? I think it depends on message – emergency, important, vs light you should know X.
For emergency or really important, I’ve seen some agencies use it where the head of department can leave everyone a voicemail. Can’t use it more than 4-5 times a year in my opinion but it does work as we get so many emails
-Ideation platforms like HUD Ideas or FAA Idea
-Regular speakers – Google does like a weekly/monthly speaker series that brings people together…and live stream them
-Fund/incentivize people already doing it – you probably already have a bunch of informal groups meeting (like a young professionals club or Federally Employed Women chapter) – work with them to spread messages
-Flyers in hallways and elevators and bathrooms work
January 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm #151315
That’s a great point, and I agree that the human touch is critical to communicating key messages. My question would have probably been less scary in the proper context — we certainly do hold management meetings (weekly) and managers do hold regular meetings with their staff as well; we also do regular all staff meetings. Our challenge is that we still hear from employees that messages aren’t trickling down, and we’re looking for alternative ways to get some of our messages to staff. Our office is in the midst of a culture change as well, and we’re trying to use communications to help facilitate that change.
January 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm #151313
Thanks for your replies! Very helpful. To be more specific about the types of messaging — we’re focusing on getting out the word on some of the positive organizational changes we’re implementing in our office, such as responding to the needs of staff indicated by the Best Place to Work survey, and trying to get folks from different teams connected to one another’s work. We’ve tried things like Brown Bag lunches with senior leadership but haven’t gotten great turnout, and we’re in the process of getting started an idea platform and a speaker series. I’m trying to figure out if there are other ways of getting out the word on these initiatives and encouraging folks to participate that we haven’t already hit on yet.
January 31, 2012 at 5:59 pm #151311
Tina—have you thought about an regular e-newsletter and running contests in them? Something I used to do is deliberately hide a typo or funny word in an article I particularly wanted people to read and provide prizes (the cafeteria used to give coffee or soft drink vouchers to the first 5 people who found the mistake.
April 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm #151309
Hi Tina, Sorry for a very delayed response to your post. Have you thought about using the intranet to make announcements? The newly re-launched EERE site is always looking for fresh content. I’m sure they would welcome any ideas you had!
May 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm #151307
I think this conversation is pointing in the right direction. Engagement means inclusion.
The basics of an internal communication program include a staff of internal communication specialists who develop and deploy internal communication plans that help employees with line-of-sight between their jobs and the agency’s priorities. This includes using a variety of communication channels (and knowing how each serves a different purpose). On top of that foundation, the team can then support approaches to inclusion and guide leaders in their communication roles.
The US Mint moved from around 200th to 50th pace in the best places to work by improving communication over the past year. The scale is different, but they seemed to bypass creating a communication infrastructure, jumping right to leadership forums–and with very significant results.
May 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm #151305
Thanks Jeff. Do you have a contact at the US Mint who would be willing to share some of their work?
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