A global study by American consulting company Gartner has shown that in 2019 companies spent on average USD 2,420 to improve the employee experience. Unfortunately, only 13% of the personnel were satisfied with these actions. But following the first year of the pandemic, the engagement indicators started to grow in many companies (we cover this here). The trend is thought to be the result, among others, of increased care for employees and improved internal communication. And even though this should not cause over-optimism, it’s worth taking a closer look at the situation and thinking about how to use internal communication to shape employees’ experience to keep their engagement growing.
Ever since engagement became the Holy Grail of the corporate world, shaping employee experience started to climb up to a higher level. But despite the efforts and the growing awareness of the leaders, many companies were still focused mainly on creating a good atmosphere and benefits.
The pandemic has disguised all the limitations of such an attitude. It turned out what’s most important is an empathetic attitude to employees and their needs at every stage of their corporate journey. As Gartner points out in a study from early 2021, employees need the same level of attention as customers do. They expect to be treated with respect and care during the onboarding period, they want their talents to be developed and their knowledge to be expanded, and they want to be valued and rewarded. This is how their positive experience shapes and proper communication plays an important role in all these processes. Using its enormous potential in the right way is the key to success.
Josh Bersin, analyst and counselor specialized in HR, points out that companies that successfully invest in employee experience have five times bigger chances to have a high level of employee engagement and to keep the talents in the company. But building a positive employee experience effectively is a complex process. According to the three workplace environments theory developed by Jacob Morgan in his book “Employee Experience Advantage” from 2017, we need to take care of the following:
Internal communication must support each of these areas.
Shaping it is one of the basic tasks of internal communication. In the times of uncertainty and crisis that we are now experiencing, it supports values important for the organization, such as empathy, creating a community, coherence, and respect. Professor Gary Hamel of London Business School even talks about the phenomenon of “humanocracy” i.e. creating a human-oriented organization. Internal communication coherent with this strategy responds to people’s needs, builds a dialogue, is creative and engaging (you can read about how to create it here). It can thus shape employee experience at every stage, giving employees a clear message that what they think is meaningful, and the organization they work for is trustworthy.
When a company’s life goes online, the priority is to shape the digital employee experience. Modern internal communication tools can be either your allies or your enemies. Too much of them brings chaos, which disorganizes and holds up processes. But if well-designed and properly used, they will shape internal communication taking all parties’ needs into accounts. Josh Bersin points out companies gradually more often invest in employee experience platforms combining many tools into one, which provides interactivity, multi-channeling, customization, attractive look, and fast operation. This was the goal behind e.g. Microsoft VIVA, ServiceNow, Staffbase, or Polish WORKAI. Many consulting companies, e.g. Deloitte or Accenture, start to introduce their own tools of this kind.
Internal communication has to be present in the organization’s physical space, even if it’s been limited by the pandemic. It’s worth shaping a new order based on new rules. It is no more about providing information, but about creating an atmosphere of trust and safety. A big role is played by adequate office design, e.g. hot desks, safe open space, cooperation rooms, friendly kitchen-lounge area. In a well-designed space it is easier to celebrate successes and to promote the culture of appreciation, and most importantly, to create a dialogue and allow sharing of opinions. This teaches the organization to take employees’ ideas into account – it’s not enough to hear them out, you also need to follow their voice, even if their needs change dynamically and constantly.
What kind of communication impacts the process of shaping a holistic and positive employee experience? One that is well-planned, responds to employees’ needs and engages the managers. Every point of contact with the organization, described with a coherent comment, strengthened by the leader, gives a deeper meaning to one’s work, builds a greater sense of belonging, trust, and deepens the emotional relationship with the organization, thus resulting in greater employee engagement.