Companies will often times spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new initiative, but will not spend a fraction of that to make sure that it is communicated properly. We see this on a regular basis. One example that comes to mind is the rise of wellness programs in many of our large corporations.
The idea of a formalized wellness program is fabulous. The C-suite loves saying that they offer a wellness component for their employees. In their eyes, they are looking out for the ‘best interest of their employees.’ What the C-suite is not supporting is the communication effort needed to make these programs a success.
Many times, when the topic does not directly affect the bottom line, the higher levels of management are forced to sweep the topic under the rug. For example, Manager A has a newsletter to write each month. Manager A realizes that her success is measured by how well she produces widgets. So, in an effort to make sure her team is producing enough widgets, she uses the limited amount of space in her newsletter for widget production needs. In her eyes, she is doing what needs to be done in order to remain successful when it is time for her employee review.
This situation is happening at facilities all over the country. The problem is this behavior is very individualistic. The C-suite does not realize that by having objectives in an employees list of items that he/she must accomplish that only center around production, will continue to drive this behavior. We do not want you to think that we view these objectives as not important, but without a balance there are softer objectives that are not going to get addressed. As the next generation of employees come in, they are looking for a more balanced lifestyle. Not one that only involves production goals.
Just as many companies had to accept social media, companies are now going to have to accept more individuals seeking work life balance in order to keep good employees. Every company is not going to be Apple and Google, but there are steps that companies can take to begin to work towards that direction. One of those steps is to communicate a variety of topics to employees that will help them in their whole life. Topics such as wellness which was mentioned in the example above and the importance of investing which many new to the workplace do not see the value in starting early. Proper communication could change their way of thinking.
Below are a couple of steps that may help communicate with employees about topics that do not have a direct impact on the bottom line:
1. Have members of the C-suite address softer topics from time to time. When the heads of the company are speaking these messages, this will encourage other managers to also discuss topics of this nature.
2. Cover the softer topics in multiple communication channels. If you have a strong Intranet, company newsletter, or a social media platform, take the time to spread these softer messages that will not be tied to confidentiality. If these channels are not strong, that is OK too. This may be what they need to bring them to life.
3. Craft the messages in a fun manner and not the typical corporate speak. There is a time to speak in a corporate tone and a time to lighten up. It is good for employees to see the softer side of the company. This is the side that employees are going to be more willing to engage.
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