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Rethink Your Resolutions

Three practices internal communicators should commit to in 2017

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Amidst fitness, financial and other personal resolutions, the start of a new year is also the perfect time to evaluate your internal communications approach. Whether you’re focused on reaching your employees more effectively or need ways to make your communications more engaging, we have a few ideas to get you started. Based on our work with clients and overall industry trends, here are a few simple resolutions you can make – and keep! – to strengthen your internal communications and employee engagement programs in the coming year.

Resolution 1: Adapt to the Changing Political Landscape

The recent U.S. election has caused uncertainty across all industries. It’s important that employees feel supported during times of change so they can remain focused on what really matters. Here are a few tips to help employees navigate during periods of volatility:

  • Accept uncertainty. The last six months have been marked by a flurry of legislative changes with direct impact on companies and employees: potential U.S. Department of Labor overtime changes, new tax implications for multinational companies and new antitrust enforcement guidelines. But it is unclear whether any of those changes will be halted or reversed under the Trump administration, leaving many companies wondering how to proceed. While you can’t predict the future, you can remind employees that amidst all the ambiguity, your company and its mission and vision aren’t changing. Remain true to your values and reiterate that your purpose is still the same.
  • Focus on open communication. Now more than ever, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open and create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns. Employees want to feel that their voice is being heard, so be sure to build in sufficient time for listening as well. Equip key groups, like HR colleagues and managers, with the resources they need to have productive conversations and answer tough questions.
  • Go back to the basics. Don’t forget about basic change management principles – they apply to a variety of situations. Be planful, do your best to stay on top of trends and anticipate changes on the horizon. This will help your organization feel more prepared for what’s to come and stay nimble when the need to course correct arises.

Resolution 2: Reward and Recognize Your Employees

While many companies have annual awards or sales incentive programs, sometimes little acts of recognition have the biggest impact on employees. There are many ways you can infuse recognition into a daily routine.

  • Encourage peer recognition. Receiving praise from your manager is always welcome, but sometimes peer recognition is just as fulfilling. One of our hospitality clients has a “pay it forward” recognition program, which encourages employees to acknowledge a coworker who has gone above and beyond in their job. That person receives two small tokens of appreciation – one to keep and one to pass on to someone else to continue the cycle of recognition.
  • Feedback, feedback and more feedback. It’s no secret that employees, especially Millennials, crave feedback. Real-time recognition is an easy way to infuse positivity into the workplace and boost morale. You don’t have to wait for a one-on-one meeting or formal review process to recognize colleagues. Instant, positive feedback will make people feel appreciated in the moment and beyond. And don’t forget about constructive feedback as well – it allows people to course correct, leading to more opportunities for growth and development.
  • The magic words. We’re often so busy and wrapped up in our work that we forget to acknowledge a job well done. Remember that a simple “thank you” goes a long way!

Resolution 3: Celebrate the Milestones

Be it an anniversary, a new product launch or a company milestone, major events deserve a little celebration. Besides being fun, celebrating these key moments in time can help increase engagement and build pride throughout the organization.

  • Remember the past. Anniversaries are a great way to commemorate your company’s history and remind employees where it all started. If approaching a major milestone – 25, 50, 75 years – consider a year-long campaign with build-up communications, exciting launch events and ongoing engagement activities to keep the celebration going. One immersive way to do this would be to create an experiential timeline that employees can physically walk through to learn about key dates and company achievements. At the end of the timeline, invite employees to write their own proudest moment on a dedicated wall space to make it personal. It’s also important to acknowledge other types of anniversaries – as the pace of merger and acquisition activity continues to accelerate, M&A anniversaries are emerging as an opportunity to unite employees and recognize progress. Celebrating a year together as a newly combined company will help employees see how far they’ve come and what they’ve been able to accomplish together.
  • Celebrate the present. When celebrating a milestone, remember to use all communication channels available – everything from videos and dedicated intranet portals to manager toolkits and promotional materials. This is an easy and tangible way to keep the content top of mind for employees. Consider including a hashtag or tagline to help curate and promote content. This can serve as a rallying cry for employees and can be used throughout communications to create consistency and a sense of collaboration.
  • Look to the future. It’s also important to keep employees excited about what’s ahead for the company and how they can contribute. For example, creating a virtual time capsule, where employees can write emails to their future self, submit a piece of work they’re most proud of or post pictures with colleagues, allows employees to tie their personal accomplishments to the future success of the company.

Let us know how you plan to inject some of these ideas into your planning this year or share your own in the comments below.

Mollie Scott is an account supervisor with Employee Engagement in Chicago.

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